Gender imbalances in the kitchen exist, but does this award help or hinder women?

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Do We Really Need a ‘World’s Best Female Chef’ Award?

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Chef Ana Roš was named best female chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list; is that a good thing?
Gender imbalances in the kitchen exist, but does this award help or hinder women?

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Gender imbalances in the kitchen exist, but does this award help or hinder women?

This week, the global culinary curators behind the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list announced the winner of this year’s Best Female Chef award, Chef Ana Roš, of Hiša Franko in Slovenia. Although chef Roš said she is humbled to have received the award — telling Billionaire that the award will put Slovenia on the gastronomic map — many question if the award is necessary at all. Eater published an opinion piece calling the award, “not only absurd, but insulting.”

Others are also calling for the abolishing of the award, especially since there is no equally puzzling Best Male Chef award to match:

The “World’s 50 Best” committee explained their reasoning behind the existence of the award in a statement:

“Some believe the existence of the Best Female Chef Award program — under The World’s 50 Best Restaurants umbrella — fuels and exacerbates everyday sexism,” the statement reads. “As the organizers of these awards, we strongly refute that. We believe the existence of this gender-specific category actually helps to redress an imbalance, while simultaneously recognizing that the world of restaurant kitchens remains a male-dominated sphere.”

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We spoke with last year’s Best Female Chef award recipient, Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, in December, who strongly believes that sexist undertones and overtones still exist in the industry, and that the media perpetuates these issues. “There are a lot of chefs in my industry that are women [and] they are amazing, but the media doesn’t pay attention to them,” Crenn said. “You pick up a magazine and the new best chef is usually a man.”