To mark this year’s International Women’s Day on 8th March, Chef Middle East celebrates Hospitality industry women who shine and take on amazing challenges everyday of their working life.
Here are 10 inspirational women sharing with us their own insights and perspective on this special day.
General Manager at Hotel Indigo Downtown, IHG Hotels, Dubai, UAE
“Hospitality is without a doubt one of the most exciting industries, but there’s always crazy action around every corner – and isn’t that part of why we love it so much too?. In the hotel business, you get pulled in multiple directions at the same time. Remaining agile to be prepared to adapt and be ready to completely change the way your business operates over night is top priority. A successful leader in hospitality needs to communicate effectively with all levels and with a wide variety of people. That means dealing with a lot of emotions, different cultures and characters, while making sure that everything is balanced nicely to achieve the overall goals of the organization.”
Owner at Kakaw Chocolates, Doha, Qatar
“If you want to achieve success, then don’t doubt your dreams. It is a process not an event.”
Chef Inès Durand Chatti
Pastry Chef at Choix Patisserie & Restaurant by Pierre Gagnaire, Dubai UAE
“To succeed, in a very masculine environment where gender stereotypes reign, women must impose themselves with finesse and balance.
Indeed, a woman will always be judged more severely than a man. We always expect more from her.
Despite a seemingly harsh context, the breach was opened by internationally recognized female chefs who have proven that they have their place in the kitchen. More and more women are coming into these professions and succeeding out of passion and determination. Each successful woman is an additional conquest and in turn, inspires new generations of women.
Beyond the conquests to be carried out, it is important to remember that there is already an infinite range of women and men, female chefs and chefs, who every day, together with all the players in the sector, build a new world where the rules of the game are different.
A world, a gastronomic universe where passion and creativity combine without gender representation to create a harmonious dynamic. Gender stereotypes are gradually fading, more and more female chefs are brought to the forefront and shine alongside their colleagues.
As Simone de Beauvoir said so subtly, “No one is more arrogant towards women, more aggressive or contemptuous, than a man worried about his virility.”
Head Pastry Chef at CÉ LA VI Restaurant, Dubai, UAE
“10 years ago when I started in the industry, being a young women in a kitchen was a challenge as I had to prove myself for everything I did. Nowadays, mentality has changed and there is a lot more understanding. This way, work is easier to achieve together and regardless of genders.”
Head Chef at Bolla Bistro Wine Bar, Dubai, UAE
“Women are considered to be very emotional. You can’t be overly emotional in a kitchen when you have to get your job done, but you can use that connection with your emotions to express yourself through the dishes that you prepare and link up with your guests to let them feel it.
Be a woman in an industry that revolves around people’s feeling is definitely an extra touch that is much needed. The Woman’s day reminds me of all hardworking women out there and how their strengths and sensibilities are respected, appreciated, and celebrated.”
Chef Rita Soueidan
Head Chef at Maisan 15 Restaurant, Dubai, UAE
“I feel women bring a different and unique energy to a professional kitchen. Over the recent years this diversity has not only brought about a more balanced kitchen environment but has resulted in higher levels of creativity and innovation that can now be seen in contemporary cuisine. While you may still find this gender gap in some countries where it is still perceived that women can’t handle the pressures of a professional kitchen, it is clearly a falsehood and women chefs all around the world are a living testament to that. In my opinion passion, discipline and hard work are the keys to success in any field and those things are not gender specific.”
Chef Sahar Parham Al Awadhi
Pastry Chef at Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE
“As long-time hobbies are starting to transition into real-life jobs, I think one of the professions that is at the forefront of this change is being a chef which means that people are ready to put in the time to take on roles that are unconventional. The traditional and impulsive perception of a chef is that it is male dominated. And like anything else in the evolving world, we have to learn to adapt to change. The change in women’s voices along the recent years has sparked a change in the narrative of the idea behind the word “chef” and its working practices. Its philosophy has tempered and adapted rather than that women are being intimidated by a constrained and outdated moulds that they were forced to fit in to, one that was somewhat unrealistic for any human to begin with. While the time-honoured discipline is still rooted in creating exceptional meals and experiences for guests, it has perhaps moved more towards becoming less restricted, less patriarchal, and more accommodating to individual styles that divert from the masculine “chef,” yet ultimately maintaining the art of precision, skill or status.”
Mixologist at Boca, Dubai, UAE
“I was always amazed by the bartenders, the way they take different liquids and create something completely different and unique to compare to the star ingredients and the experience they can give to the customers. So, one time I requested a trial shift in the bar, I could see myself enjoying it more. I started learning about it only a couple of years ago. It was the perfect fit to me; fast enough, I found it very natural to create cocktails.
One of the biggest challenges in the bar is the amount of time you have to stand, it’s truly an exhausting job, so much work to do behind the scenes too with preparations required before the start of the duty. This job requires a lot of patience. Being a mixologist is an everyday challenge of mixing liquids together. The smiles I get every time the guests try my drinks, is what keeps me going towards becoming a perfectionist. To everyone out there I say: be passionate and always find ways to motivate yourself.”
Head Bartender at Twiggy by La Cantine du Faubourg, Dubai, UAE
“The possibility of mixing the worlds of the bar and the kitchen together, creating new flavours and unexpected recipes lead to the perfect result. About how it feels to be a women in the hospitality industry, this is a tricky question 🙂 The stereotype revolves around women compared to men, but believe me when it comes to lifting a keg I will do this with ease.Always do more than what people expect from you, it pays off. Believe in yourself.”
Iris Areli Hernandez Onofre
Head Bartender at BB Social Dining, Dubai, UAE
“The Hospitality industry has been a family tradition for generation for me. I grew up with a mother who was a chef, and a grandfather who owned a restaurant. I have always been inspired by my mother’s creativity in dishes. And I grew up helping at my grandfather ’s restaurant, one day help was required behind the bar, and that’s how I fell for it.
The passion for mixing drinks is what keeps me going, since the first day. Also the fact that, in the bar, you can see a challenge everyday, not just creating drinks, but creating experiences.
The biggest challenge as a lady bartender: being underestimated sometimes and not being taken seriously as a professional. Which just makes me want to prove myself as anyone else out there.
To all the bartenders out there: to never lose the passion for the job, never stop working and learning, and always believe in yourself.”