SHE-LOGY: Women in the Kitchen
The kitchen has been generally known as women’s territory, and cooking a woman’s job. At one point, it became a double standard, such that if you’re a woman, you are expected to know how to cook to serve your husband and family. Hopefully, it’s no longer the case anywhere in the world. The goal of this particular She-logy post is not to encourage that double standard, but to celebrate the female chefs who shine in their culinary prowess and to show that there is more to them than just being good in the kitchen. Another thing these three women have in common: worked/working in Washington D.C.
JULIA CHILD. Born 1912.
AS CHEF: She is an icon, with a 40-year career as chef. Her name is synonymous with French cuisine in America. She is the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. She received France’s highest honor: the Legion d’Honneur.
What made her famous:
- Her groundbreaking cookbook, created with 2 other chefs, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, became a standard guide for the culinary community
- Her popular cooking show The French Chef, the first of her TV cooking shows, run nationally for a decade and won Peabody and Emmy Awards, including the first Emmy award for an educational program.
FEATURED RECIPE: Boeuf Bourguignon (Epicurious)
OUTSIDE THE KITCHEN: During World War II, Julia joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a newly formed government intelligence agency, and with her education and experience soon became a top secret researcher working directly for the head of OSS, where she played a key role in communications of top secret documents between U.S. government officials and intelligence officers. She held posts in Washington, D.C., Kumming, China; and Colombo, Sri Lanka. When she was posted to China, she received the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service as head of the Registry of the OSS Secretariat.
In 2000, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.
INA GARTEN. Born 1948.
AS CHEF: She is an American author of at least 7 cookbooks and Emmy Award winning host of the Food Network program Barefoot Contessa. Her name is synonymous with Barefoot Contessa and her easy, fool-proof, and efficient yet elegant home cooking and entertaining.
What made her famous:
- Barefoot Contessa in East Hampton, the 400-sq. ft. specialty food store with employees which she grew into a 3,000-sq. ft food emporium.
- Best-selling cookbooks, her firsts: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and Barefoot Contessa Parties!
FEATURED RECIPE: Spinach and Cheddar Soufflé (Food.com)
OUTSIDE THE KITCHEN: In school, she showed an aptitude for science, and claimed she uses that scientific mindset while experimenting with recipes. In her twenties, she acquired a pilot’s license. Later on, she and her husband moved to Washington D.C. where she took business courses at George Washington University eventually earning an MBA. She eventually worked in the White House as nuclear policy analyst.
CRISTETA COMERFORD. Born 1962.
AS CHEF: After working at Sheraton Hotel and Hyatt Regency Hotel, she moved to Washington D.C. and worked as a chef at two restaurants. She then spent six months in Vienna as a rotating chef. She was recruited by White House executive chef Walter Scheib III in 1995 to work in the Clinton White House.
What made her famous:
- She is White House Executive Chef since 2005, meaning she’s been chef to three US presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama).
- She is the first woman to be selected for the post, and also the first person of ethnic minority to hold this position. She is Filipino-American.
As chef to a head of state, she is a member of Le Club des Chefs des Chefs.
FEATURED RECIPE: Sweet Potato Pie (said to be a presidential favorite, wsj.com)
OUTSIDE THE KITCHEN: While her published achievements may not compare with those of the two ladies mentioned above, I included her in this set because she is 100% Filipino and she is a reminder that you can start anywhere and end up in a prestigious place, in her case the White House, because of your passion and skills in the kitchen.
SHE-LOGY is a blog project open to everyone who is interested to celebrate women this whole month of March. If you’re reading this, I extend that invitation to you to contribute post/s about the women you’d like to honor. You can email me at email@example.com. Thank you for reading this.