This Friday is International Women’s Day and we’re excited to be championing our fantastic female chefs!

We asked Zoe from Fifteen to write us a blog post about being a woman in the hospitality industry, and here's what she had to say:

The chances are that when you think of the food you grew up eating or of the recipes handed down through your family, they were created by your grandmothers, mothers and other family matriarchs. As the caregivers of society, our role has always been to provide.

How is it then that the kitchen, typically "the woman’s domain", morphed from a protective, nurturing space at home, into an, often hostile, working space that proudly harbours ‘misfits’? Of course, I’m invoking stereotypes here, but if you’ve read ‘Kitchen Confidential’, watched any tv show about struggling restaurants with chefs screaming at each other, or heck, even talked to a chef about their experiences you’d probably be forgiven for thinking this way.

This is a fascinating time to be a woman in the hospitality industry. Clare Smyth might be the only female chef in the UK to hold the coveted three stars, but more and more of the women who run great restaurants are being celebrated and welcomed into the fold. There is still more to be done. For example, Alice Waters was the last female chef to win the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World’s Best 50 Restaurant Awards. That was way back in 2007. She is also the only female chef to have won since the award’s inception in 2002.  

It would be amazing to see the change that I’m personally seeing around me translated into a more tangible result in the industry globally. Alice Waters surely can’t be the only female chef that deserves a lifetime achievement award!

There are still struggles – I’ve definitely had my share of unpleasant gender-based experiences, and I know of many other female chefs who have, too. However, it really does feel as though we’re reaching a turning point where we’re able to have a more open conversation about these things and rebalance the way we treat and respect women in the industry. I’m looking forward to seeing what the industry does to capitalise on this momentum in the next few years!

I just want to finish by saying that we have an awesome team of very talented women at Fifteen, and I’m very proud to work alongside them.