Time Magazine's 'Gods of Food' Feature Ignores Scores of Great (Female) Chefs

Categories: Food Fight

Chang-Atala-Redzepi-Time-Magazine.jpg
Photo from Time magazine
The Gods of Food, also referred to as "The Dudes of Food": David Chang, René Redzepi and Alex Atala.
Time magazine recently published a feature on the 13 most influential people in the food world. The list actually included 15 people and a company, but it wasn't the fact that Time editors seemingly can't count that had readers, chefs, restaurateurs and just about everybody else in the food industry commenting on the piece. It's that of the 15 people, only four of them are women. And none of the four women profiled are chefs. They're influential in other ways -- some would argue more so than the men written about -- but the glaring omission in the article begs the question: Where are all the great female chefs?

As soon as the piece came out, men and women in the culinary world began drafting commentaries on what most feel is an obvious snub of all the women who paved the way for some of the top male chefs to rise in the ranks or are innovating without shouting about it from the rooftops. People bring up Alice Waters again and again, as well as, among others, Elena Arzak, Nancy Silverton and Barbara Lynch.

about_alicewaters.jpg
Photo from Chez Panisse
Alice Waters has been considered a culinary god for years...so why wasn't she on the list?
Waters is, of course, the founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and though she's more of a restaurateur than a chef, her emphasis on fresh, local organic produce back before it was cool to eat heirloom tomatoes certainly changed the way we eat and think about food. Arzak is a Spanish chef whose restaurant has three Michelin-stars, and she won the 2012 title of best female chef in the world from Restaurant magazine (though some might argue that the word "female" needn't be part of that epithet). Silverton redefined bread when she opened La Brea bakery in 1989, and has owned (and still owns) several other restaurants. Lynch has a veritable culinary empire in Boston and dozens of awards to her name.

And then there are the late, great female chefs, such as Eugénie Brazier, the first chef to earn six Michelin stars, which she did all the way back in 1933, and Julia Child, who brought gourmet cooking to the masses through her TV shows and seminal cookbooks.

So where were all of these women in the Time magazine feature?

This is not to say that anyone featured on Time's list is undeserving. The chefs include David Chang, Alex Atala, René Redzepi, Albert Adrià, Yottam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi and Dan Barber, each laudable for his original cuisine, famous restaurant(s) and approach to food and eating. Chang opened the now legendary Momofuku and is the emperor of a global culinary powerhouse. Barber is a leader in the local food movement, and the James Beard Foundation named him the top chef in America in 2009. Redzepi's restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen, has been voted the best restaurant in the world for the past three years. These are no small feats.

Still, the women on the Time list are renowned for considerably less flashy culinary roles, none of which involves being in a kitchen. Aida Batlle is a coffee grower in El Salvador who emphasizes site-specific, slow-roasted coffee. Amrita Patel is the chairperson of the National Dairy Development Board in India, and Vandana Shiva leads the charge against genetically modified food. And then there's Ertharin Cousin, the head of the U.N. World Food Programme, who Time says "is responsible for feeding more people than anyone else on the planet."

Aside from Cousin, these women aren't often in the spotlight -- at least not to the extent their male chef counterparts are. They're each incredibly influential, and yet, readers haven't been satisfied by this offering from Time. None of the featured women are the type of culinary innovators who get the level of national attention enjoyed by the likes of Chang, Redzepi or Atala, whom Time labels the "Dudes of Food."


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12 comments
Shakti Baum
Shakti Baum

"I guess the interesting thing is that unless we yell and scream about it, they're not going to do it any differently," says Monica Pope, chef and owner of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop. "But if we do we're bitches." -Monica

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

They don't tell me how and what to eat!  That was my mother, and I've elaborated on that since! And there's a strong woman for you who knew how to cook!

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

I agree with Ms. Tran, if Time is still in print in ten years--which I doubt--it will be a stodgy monolith like The New Yorker, Harper's, and/or the WSJ. Chau-Eaon's bias is bald-faced chauvinism. "Female chefs are recent except for...Lynch has as many restaurants but..." and what, exactly, is "recent breadth," anyway? Cause it reads like a capricious and oh-so-adjustable bar to continually exclude.

I wonder--not enough to read the article--how many chefs on the list are African American? I wonder how many are from Mexico? I wonder if the wunderkind editor knows black men and women have been in the kitchens--in this country--since independence and folk from Puebla have been doing Legasse, Keller, Rupert's line work for DECADES. I agree that most of this is PR driven. The rest is just plain ol' preference which is prejudice's socially "acceptable" cousin.

Phi Tran
Phi Tran

Which is why print magazines like TIME are going the way of the dinosaur....failure to evolve and adapt for the times. Unfortunately, women are still under recognized in all professions that are historically male dominated.

gloria
gloria

Is Monica Pope still cooking here in Houston? I remember she was once rocking in with Boulevard Bistrot...gotta try her new place.

Anita Jaisinghani is another great chef here, along with Rainbow Lodge owner/operator Donnette Hansen.

James.Brock2013
James.Brock2013

@MadMac I must agree and disagree with your comments here. The New Yorker is in no way a "stodgy monolith," unless by that you mean a publication that adheres to standards of excellent writing and reportage. Harper's is another publication that prints excellent prose. And the WSJ's output -- excepting its editorial pages -- is top-notch. I agree that Time is dead. It died the minute it hired Joel Stein as a columnist. What was once a must-read is now a dumbed-down waste of paper. I also agree with you about the food editor's comments; a global empire means that a chef who possesses one is creating better food than a chef who has but one single restaurant? I think not. I offer as evidence Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena, whose fine restaurant in Donostia, the only one they own, is one of the best restaurants in the world. Time, and much of food journalism, has jumped on the trend bandwagon, the "what's hot" clown parade, and it does food, and cooking and eaters, a disservice. As a final note, I would not venture to say that prejudice had anything to do with Time's selection of chefs in the piece; I posit that it was nothing but "safe and bland, jumping on the bandwagon" picks ... though I highly admire Keller and Change and the brothers Adrià, not to mention Dan Barber and Eric Ripert.


SanGiovese
SanGiovese

@gloria  

Yeah, Donnette at Rainbow Lodge is the type of strong-willed woman who hires these chefs and, without seeking out the spotlight herself, let's them do their thing...until they misbehave, of course, then she drops the hammer

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Good points. While we obviously disagree on the pubs I cited, the trend bandwagon and clown parade is a perfect discription of the Time piece (puns) and sadly it extends to even food publications. I stopped reading Bon Appetit after one-too-many articles by Micro Soft employees telling us what pans we would be using if we weren't such idiots. Thanks for the correction on Eric Ripert, btw. My spelling sucks out loud. 

SanGiovese
SanGiovese

@James.Brock2013 

Agree with you about New Yorker, Harpers and WSJ being pretty stellar mags. Time not so much. I'm not sure the commenter knows the meaning of stodgy monolith. 

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Yeah, I do. It's like Allan Bloom--old, rock-solid, and dead.

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