It's no secret that the food and beverage industry worldwide is filled with men leading kitchens and developing new restaurant ventures. However, in recent years, we've seen a surge of women taking charge and rising through the ranks, setting standards we haven't seen before.
We spoke to five women in our local food industry to hear their takes on and stories about their careers and working their way through the business.
Chef Isadora Chai, Head Chef and Owner of Bistro à Table
What brought you into the industry and what made you stay?
I've always had a natural affiliation to cooking in the professional kitchen. Even as a university student studying Biotechnology & Biochemistry, I was working part-time in restaurants. After graduating and working in pharmaceuticals, I was truly unhappy albeit successful and well-paid in an industry that I didn't feel was good for my soul and sanity. I decided to leave my corporate profession and gave myself two years working as a chef. I've not looked back ever since. It's funny that I'm still in touch with a lot of my ex-colleagues and they're still flabbergasted that I left all those years ago.
How has your job empowered you as a woman?
I think that the assumption that 'women belong in the kitchen' is totally outdated so being publicly featured changes that narrative. I'm proud to be a part of that history. Chefs are a scary lot so when people see women in head chef roles, they probably see 'really scary women'. I personally find that both hilarious and offensive.
What are you looking forward to for women in the industry?
I don’t know whether there's anything to look forward to, but I just hope that more employers will be open to recruiting and giving women a chance in the commercial kitchen–and not just the pastry section.