For anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry, it's a very poorly-kept secret that sexism and sexual harassment run rampant.
So in the wake of some recent allegations against celebrity chef and TV personality John Besh, fellow celebrity chef and 'Top Chef' judge Tom Colicchio decided it was time to finally have a conversation about the poor behavior that happens in kitchens around the world every day.
In an open letter published by Medium, Colicchio addresses the fact that "this isn’t just a matter of a few bad eggs and we all know it," admitting that "something’s broken here."
I just published “An Open Letter to (Male) Chefs” https://t.co/yN0hStbaix— Tom Colicchio (@Tom Colicchio)1510169634.0
He asserts that "it’s time that chefs and restaurant owners candidly acknowledge the larger culture that hatched all these crummy eggs, and have some hard conversations amongst ourselves that are long overdue."
Colicchio recalls a time in the '90s when one of the well-known New York restaurants he worked at, Gramercy Tavern, was run by an all-female group of senior chefs:
"Night after brutal night we faced the same pressured ballet of high heat, 86’d salmon and tickets spitting out of the printer at a clip too fast to meet. The only difference was the quiet; the smacktalk was gone. These chefs were tightly focused, competing against themselves, not each other. I recall a group of French chefs were visiting at the time who had a good sneer over the male to female ratio in the kitchen. I also recall they shut up pretty quickly once they saw the food."
And while Colicchio was raised to respect women, he admits the has had moments he's regretted. He once even called a journalist a "rumor-mongering b — -h" for printing rumors about his staff.
But in the end, he knows that male restaurant employees know better.
"it’s time for men in the restaurant industry to say to each other: enough." @tomcolicchio https://t.co/UPTGnSwVDZ— Helena Bottemiller Evich (@Helena Bottemiller Evich)1510228726.0
"Deep down men know that sexist sh*t-talk is just a lazy substitute for real wit," he says before laying out that women don't want to hear about boners, and that the kitchen isn't a place for "sexy time."
It's one of problems that Colicchio credits for why so few female chefs endure later into adulthood.
"It’s not enough for us to ask, ‘How can we behave differently around our women employees and coworkers?’" he states. "Instead we should be asking ‘What barriers to their success do I owe it to them to remove?’"
"An Open Letter to (Male) Chefs" should be required reading, and not just in the industry. https://t.co/RfVKqJvvWQ… https://t.co/6ZFAPv8IL6— Emily Wasserman (@Emily Wasserman)1510179702.0
He adds: "Sure, we all sweated and scrapped and worked damn hard to get where we are, but most of us did it without the added torment of sexual harassment. Enough."
People across Twitter praised Colicchio for addressing an issue that has been prevalent for far too long:
Exactly what we've been waiting for an industry-leader male chef to say. And unsurprisingly it's @TomColicchio sayi… https://t.co/f9G8oZW5Q2— Corby Kummer (@Corby Kummer)1510176159.0
This article by @tomcolicchio hits home...literally. T Beers left the kitchen in her 30's due to harassment https://t.co/2CXgadX4b7— Michael A Beers CEC (@Michael A Beers CEC)1510233923.0
this righteous fury from @tomcolicchio on sexism in kitchens includes nary an "as the father of daughters" but inst… https://t.co/KLNYDbEBZ9— jessica (@jessica)1510185757.0
I’m *shocked* it has taken so long for a big time male chef to speak up but this is def the right tone @tomcolicchio https://t.co/72nOzbXXap— Jen Agg (@Jen Agg)1510177138.0
And perhaps men in every walk of life can take note:
Tom’s open letter applies to many more industries. It’s really easy to substitute “restaurant” for “technology comp… https://t.co/0AcdFpHLl0— Matthew Mengerink (@Matthew Mengerink)1510176269.0
Everyone, every chef, every men should read this letter......now! Urgency of now....no more harassing one more wome… https://t.co/KrNKvNvUay— José Andrés (@José Andrés)1510178633.0
@tomcolicchio Well done, chef.— Danny Meyer (@Danny Meyer)1510170022.0
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