Industry reacts to Marco Pierre White's sexist comments

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Chefs and industry professionals react to Marco Pierre White's sexist comments

Related tags: Marco pierre white, Sexism, Industry, Hospitality, Chef, Neil Rankin

Professionals from across the industry have reacted with anger after comments made by Marco Pierre White regarding men and women in the kitchen appeared in the press.

Speaking to The Irish Independent​, White said: "The real positive with men [in the kitchen] is that men can absorb pressure better, that's the main difference, because they are not as emotional, and they don't take things personally."

The high-profile chef restaurateur added that he thought men also brought a physical strength to the table that women do not have, saying: "Look at the size of some of the pans you are carrying. Can you imagine you're a lady in the kitchen and saying 'will you carry that pan for me?' You don't want to say that do you?... So men are physically stronger and they can absorb the pressure of the kitchen better."

White also said that he believed women had attributes that made them perform better than men in the kitchen, such as having better palates and being more consistent cooks. "Women tend to have a better palate, because they have a better sense of smell. They are more consistent than men, when it comes to cooking, because they respect the house more, they do their job," he says.

A number of high-profile chefs and industry professionals have reacted to White’s comments with frustration and anger.

“For me it’s not about sex, it’s about people,” says Sally Abe, head chef at Michelin-starred The Harwood Arms in Fulham.

“It’s not about looking at someone with preconceptions of what they can and can’t do it’s giving them a chance and letting them prove themselves. That’s what I’ve always done, work hard and you will be successful regardless of gender.”

Asma Khan, founder of London’s Darjeeling Express that is staffed by an all-female kitchen team, received plenty of support after calling out White’s comments on social media​.

“It is extremely unhelpful to have a prominent male chef like Marco Pierre White undermining the contribution and role of women in restaurant kitchens,” she tells BigHospitality. 

“Even when he attempts to list the positives, he displays his staggering, almost medieval gender bias. And basically dismisses us as neither innovators or creators.”

Asma-Khan-to-open-Calcutta-Canteen-cafe_wrbm_large
Asma (third from left) with her Darjeeling Express team

Khan adds that based on the reaction online it’s all women, not just those working in kitchens, that are offended by White’s remarks.

“Like a three-day-old fish, [these comments] reek of patriarchy, and there is no place in kitchen for rotting fish or chefs with these attitudes.”

Others to call out White online include chef Neil Rankin, who wrote on Instagram: “The only real difference between men and women in the kitchen is that men don’t have to put up with this nauseating baseless antiquated bullshit every day. Women not only have to do the same exact job in every area of hospitality, but also have had to contend with every oppressive jibe in the book from day one, and not only from their colleagues but from industry leaders like [Marco].”

Rankin adds that the article comes to the conclusion that women are better in the kitchen, but that’s hidden behind “clickbait nonsense from a rambling dinosaur”.

“How about we just start judging people based on their individual performance and start promoting the much-needed diversity within this dying industry that so desperately needs it."

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The only real difference between men and women in the kitchen is that men don’t have to put up with this nauseating baseless antiquated bullshit everyday. Women not only have to do the same exact job in every area of hospitality but also have had to contend with every oppressive jibe in the book from day one and not only from their colleagues but from industry leaders like this in 2019 ffs . Frankly I don’t think men could handle this bullshit every day. I think they’d crumble under the pressure. The whole article if you read it actually comes up the conclusion that women are better in the kitchen but unfortunately via all this clickbait nonsense from a rambling dinosaur . How about we just start judging people based on their individual performance and start promoting the much needed diversity within this dying industry that so desperately needs it.

A post shared by Neil Rankin (@frontlinechef) on

Meanwhile, Natalia Ribbe, founder of the Ladies of Restaurants movement that supports women working in hospitality, tells BigHospitality​ that White’s comment were old fashioned.

 “Lines like this make me wonder why so many great chefs say that they learned to cook from their mother,” she says.

“Was it because they were emotional wrecks who made them so eager to learn to cook themselves, so their mother would then leave the kitchen?”

This isn't the first time White has hit the headlines recently.

Earlier this month he criticised Jamie Oliver for citing Brexit as a factor in the demise of his restaurant group, telling Birmingham Live​​ ​​it was "the lamest excuse in the world".

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