Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, who operates various London restaurants and once held three Michelin stars, has caused a media storm following comments he made about women in kitchens during a recent interview.
Speaking to The Irish Independent, The 57-year-old chef said that “women are more emotional than men in the kitchen.” Later on in the interview, the chef went on to say: “The real positive with men 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.”
He also added: “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.”
The chef’s comments have ignited a furious response from several figures in the restaurant industry. Chef and restaurateur Asma Khan, who oversees an all-female kitchen at her Soho restaurant Darjeeling Express, has said that White’s comments reveal “his staggering, almost mediaeval gender bias”, before concluding that “there is no place in the kitchen for chefs with these attitudes.”
In a lengthy Instagram post, chef Neil Rankin (who helped to launch the three-strong Temper restaurant group) also blasted White’s opinion. Underneath a screenshot of the controversial interview, Rankin wrote: “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.” He later went on to call White a “rambling dinosaur”.
Many have also found irony in the chef’s comments, considering that he is known for having heated exchanges with his staff, and because in his early career, he would often throw out diners whose behaviour offended him.
Pierre White is well known among London’s restaurant scene – in 1994, aged just 32, he became both the youngest chef and the first ever British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. In recent years, the chef has lent his name to a series of mid-market steakhouses that have opened at hotels across the UK.
To hear how women actually fare in restaurant kitchens, read our interview with Skye Gyngell, chef-patron of Spring at Somerset House.