A talented chef explores how female mentorship ignited her passion for food and a career in a male-dominated industry.
Commercial kitchens are overwhelmingly male-dominated. The chef’s domain is an intense centripetal hustle of food and masculine ego and, for a variety of reasons, the professional culinary field continues to be an extremely challenging place for women to enter into. However, as more talented female chefs prove they have the chops to make it, they’re creating some much-needed change in the industry. Through the lens of sous chef, Melanie Witt, we highlight the arduous demands of working in a kitchen, and how and why gender balance is so valuable. An homage to women working on the line, we explore the positive impact of strong, female mentorships in the food business and what breaking the kitchen’s glass ceiling could look like.
Melanie has worked in commercial kitchens for over ten years in Montreal, Victoria and Vancouver; from butchery to brunch, she’s done it all. Melanie has experienced firsthand the intense nature of being a solo female working on the line, and she believes gender-balanced kitchens can not only create a healthier working environment but result in more dynamic and better fare. Currently, Melanie works as a sous chef at a remarkable Italian Restaurant, Savio Volpe, in Vancouver.
Belinda is a former culinary instructor at Camosun College and has worked on Salt Spring Island for many years focussing on sustainable gardening. She supervised Melanie in her first cooking job and it was Belinda’s approach to food that inspired Melanie to follow her path into the culinary field. Melanie ended up taking the same program that Belinda taught in years prior. Belinda is a fantastic example of an amazing female role model so essential to mentor women.
Grace has worked in a variety of roles within the food industry including: as an Assistant Instructor at Vancouver Community College, as a seasonal chef in Haida Gwaii, and has done several opens and has competed internationally at The Bocuse D’Or in Lyon, France (winning Best Apprentice of the World Award!). With exceptional insight into all areas of the professional food industry, Grace gives us an invaluable perspective of the dynamic gender and mentorship plays in both educational settings and in practice.
Not only will we be focusing on the women behind the dishes, we will also be showing the final product. What skills are required to create delicious food? How do masculine and feminine natures show up in your food (is there a difference)?
Being a chef requires physical and emotional stamina, it's a demanding job with long hours at a fast pace—how does one find work/life balance? We will look at Melanie's work life, where she is sous chef at one of Vancouver's top new restaurants: Savio Volpe. Intense and incredibly challenging, we will take you inside to see why Melanie is so passionate about what she does.
Melanie is a skilled chef, having worked in some of North America's top kitchens for over ten years. We will look at what skills it takes to become a sous chef at one of the best restaurants in Vancouver.
Teamwork is essential to producing good food. We will explore the importance of having a gender balance in commercial kitchens. Melanie explains how a female presence helps tone down the ego of this mostly male-dominated field, creating not only a better working environment for everyone, but resulting in better, more balanced food.
We will visit Belinda, Melanie's mentor at her first cooking job and why she entered culinary school to talk about the importance of female role models. Belinda doesn't know the influence she had on Melanie, so this will be a fun surprise to show on camera!