Warzone kitchens: Michelin stars, gender equality and fire in our bellies

Warzone kitchens: Michelin stars, gender equality and fire in our bellies

Warzone kitchens: Michelin stars, gender equality and fire in our bellies

In October 2014 Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge was criticised for saying that "women find it harder to survive in Britain’s ‘warzone’ kitchens because they are testosterone-fuelled and violent."

Mr Kerridge also said that whilst he liked "girls" in the kitchen, as it brings down testosterone levels, he questioned whether women lacked the "fire in their belly" needed to be chefs.

Isn’t food there to nurture our bodies, and working in professional kitchens about serving and taking care of your customers?

If this ‘warzone’ exists in Michelin and non-Michelin star kitchens, an important question to ask is what quality of food lands in our bellies when we eat out?

Certainly not a ‘fire’ I would want in mine.

Cooking food is an art, a nurturing art. Eating food is not just about shovelling it into our digestive tract, but indeed can be a confirmation of the love and joy that being in each other’s company brings. It therefore seems natural that food would be best prepared in a loving environment rather than in the ‘warzone’ described by Tom Kerridge.

However, what he states is correct – professional kitchens and head chefs are known for being fiery, as in explosive or volatile, but there is a different fire that we can bring to our professional kitchens, which would be sure to warm our customers' hearts rather than have them leave with merely a full belly and satisfied taste buds, and that is in the quality of loving care in our food preparation.

The gender of chefs doesn’t even come into the equation as both genders can equally bring care and dedication to the art of cooking, which in turn brings that quality to the food being served.

To place attention on the detail of how the food is prepared, how it is chopped, how it is taken out of its storage area and focussing on the task at hand without any bickering or fighting in the kitchen, can surely transfer that caring quality to the table where customers are seated, compared to what could be the venom on your plate – albeit visually and gastronomically pleasing – when the food is cooked in a ‘warzone’ kitchen.

Even though what happens in the kitchen may be behind closed doors, the quality that the food is cooked in and with permeates through every vitamin, mineral and protein and is inevitably part of every dish that is served. This can undoubtedly be felt, and with each mouthful we swallow the quality our meal has been prepared in.

There is so much joy that can come with cooking. Bringing real care for and love of people into food preparation is sure to enrich any meal. It is this level of integrity, care and nourishment that customers deserve when they dine out (or eat at home for that matter) and nothing less.


  • Harding, E. (2014, October 8). Girls find it too tough in ‘war zone’ kitchens. Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2784344/Girls-tough-war-zone-kitchens-says-chef-Tom-Kerridge-questions-industry-threatening-atmosphere.html

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