Two-starred Michelin chef Dominique Crenn has a few words on social media this week for the San Pellegrino 2018 Young Chef competition, which just announced its juries in 21 regions around the globe. Crenn, who last year was named "World's Best Female Chef" by this same organization which also puts out the renowned and often maligned World's 50 Best Restaurants list said at the time that she hoped "that award won’t exist in two years," but she nonetheless accepted the honor. Now as they set out to judge a couple hundred of the globe's top young chef talent, she wonders aloud how the male-dominated food world is ever going to achieve any equality when male jurors for a competition like this far outnumber the female ones. "I thought we all got the memo that women are 50 percent of the population," she writes on Instagram. "Oh wait. 54 percent."
Crenn seized on the fact, as seen in the post below, that as San Pellegrino was announcing its chef jurors one region at a time, there were nine regions in which zero jurors pictured are female. "Your leadership skills are disappointing, you are not inspiring and I hope you learn from this, and show up for all of us. Please evolve and do the right thing," she writes.
I thought we all got the memo that women are 50 percent of the population. Oh wait..54 percent..👊 I guess @sanpellegrino_official @sanpellegrino_us ...YOU DIDN'T.. your leadership skills are disappointing, You are not inspiring and I hope you learn from this, and show up for all of us. Please evolve and do the right thing. "we are In 9 countries not one female representative, truly shocking considering we are 50 percent of the population shame on you @SanPellegrino" If you agree please #regram this post !!!!!
As Eater notes, looking at the full list of jurors on the San Pellegrino site, there are indeed women on a number of the regional juries, including Ana Ros representing Eastern Europe, and Daniela Soto-Innes and April Bloomfield representing the US. But Crenn makes a good point that out of 21 regions, it seems strange that no qualified female jurors could be found in nine of them and where there are women included, they are outnumbered by men by three-to-one, four-to-one, or five-to-one ratios.
This of course isn't the first time that Crenn has had to publicly question the unequal treatment of women in the food world. At a San Pellegrino-sponsored panel in Sydney in April on which she was the only woman Crenn spoke out angrily after an audience member asked her if she felt like she had missed out on "the very important role of being a mother to children" by becoming a star chef not realizing that in fact Crenn is a mother to twin girls. She said "we need to change the conversation around this," and went on to tell the male questioner, "If you have kids, I hope you stay home with them, so that your wife can go out and be a bad ass woman."
It remains the case that many women do choose family over career in the food world, as they do in many professions, and that male-dominated, militaristic high-end kitchens tend to be hostile places for women in which to rise up the ranks, though some do.
But how does that ever change when the award-making apparatuses, like San Pellegrino's chef competitions, stack the decks against women in their own jury selection?
"Please evovle," indeed.