glitterandbreadcrumbs

Girls Can’t Be Chefs

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm

It all started with Top Chef. And Costco, later, but first: Top Chef.

One of our favorite past-times is to crash-land on the couch with a bottle (or two) of rosé on Friday nights after The Burger’s tucked in, and watch old seasons of Top Chef that we missed the first time around due to, well, being parents. So last Friday night I was doing the interminable, universally scripted bedtime-with-a-three-year-old routine, and — clearly stalling for time, desperate to have a conversation — my daughter asked me, “well, what are you going to do now?”

“Watch Top Chef,” I told her, rubbing my foot where I’d stepped on a Hot Wheel.

“What’s Top Chef?” she asked, sounding skeptical.

“It’s a show about a cooking contest, where they compete to see who can be the…top chef,” I said lamely. (You know how it’s utterly unhelpful to define a word with that same word? It happens a lot when you’re a parent, especially when you’re tired and maybe have already opened those bottles of rosé.) “Maybe someday you’ll be a chef.”

I added this last sentence absently, perfunctorily, totally as an afterthought, with no agenda or projected aspirations. It was just this completely reflexive thing that I think you feel hardwired to do as a parent, and I probably would’ve tacked on something similarly dopey had we been about to watch anything else, like Glee or Batman. Maybe someday you’ll be a singer. Maybe someday you’ll be a vigilante.

And then this tiny voice piped up from the darkness, and it said loudly and cheerfully, as if I’d just told a hilarious joke, “Girls can’t be chefs! Only boys can!”

I stood there, my hand on the doorknob, my mind racing. Wait a minute. I cook dinner every night. I used to be a chef. Hell, I used to be a women’s studies major (not that she has any way of knowing either of those things). She’s seen Ratatouille like a million times. But then I realized: Disney. In The Little Mermaid, the chef’s a guy. In Beauty and The Beast, the chef’s a guy. Even in Ratatouille, Janeane Garofalo’s character isn’t The Chef, she’s just a line cook. Our company’s corporate chef, whom The Burger adores (seriously, adores! she spied him once from across the parking lot, screeched “CHEF! HEY, CHEF!”, and then went tearing into his outstretched arms as if they were in a field full of daisies), is a guy.

So apparently to The Burger, a chef is a dude — always and only a dude — who wears a white jacket, occasionally sports a handlebar mustache, and likes to hack up crabs with a machete.

“Of course girls can be chefs,” I said. “You and I’ll go to a restaurant where the chef’s a girl, and you can watch her cook.”

“Okay! What’s the name of the restaurant?” she asked.

Girl and the Goat,” I answered reflexively, figuring I’d deal with reservations and logistics and the possibility of the girl chef not even being there when we showed up later.

“Okay! What’s the name of the goat?” she asked.

Stephanie Izard,” I said. Again, I was tired and there had been wine.

So I closed the door, went downstairs, and hatched a plan with The Husband. I’d email a bunch of female chefs in Chicago, telling them the preposterous thing my kid had just said to me, and asking if we could come in to eat and maybe catch a glimpse of them if they had an open kitchen.

We’d also teach The Burger to cook. Which is where Costco comes in. But again, that was later.

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  1. Does this mean that you’re back? 🙂

  2. So glad to see you back! Can’t wait for more Burger vs. Mama, or vice versa.

  3. Glad to see you back!

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