Cooking with Girl Power

A few words about last night’s Top Chef All-Stars Episode:

The girls left (Antonia and Tiffany) take the win for the Quickfire Challenge, a challenge about consistency. The boys (Richard and Mike) have sour grapes, as Antonia says, about the girls’ win. Mike even goes so far to say, “if I had to make their dish, I could have sent Richard out for a six-pack of beer to celebrate, while I made their dish myself.” Excuse me?!

I love this show, and I’ve been genuinely sad when any of the contestants have had to go home (especially as we near the end) – however, I’m rather appalled that there have been so many misogynistic comments, even from the competing women. Both Tiffany and Carla have said, “how amazing it would be to be a woman winning Top Chef All-Stars.” While I understand why they would say this (and can’t even begin to understand what it must be like to be a woman cooking in a male-dominated industry), why does it have to be this way?

Do we remember an earlier episode of this season, “An Offer They Can’t Refuse”, wherein all of the women left (and Fabio) cooked the winning dishes of the night? Lorraine Bracco commented on the importance of the matriarchal presence, how Marty Scorsese’s mother cooked for the cast of GoodFellas every day on set.

A subject that I continue to find in my studies is a connection between women, food, and family. While I don’t believe that women should have to be the home makers, or the cooks in the family, what happens in cultures where a matriarchal presence in the home and kitchen is revered? Where the kitchen isn’t about competition or hierarchy, but about centering, and coming together?

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