This week, we celebrate International Women’s Day with a post about five women shaking up the food industry, doing ace things and who also inspire not only us, both also others.
There are many things that we admire about Asma. Not only is her food the stuff of legends, but she is also smart, challenges stereotypes, injustice and discrimination. For her female empowerment is not just a hashtag, but practiced in her working life. From her all female kitchen at Darjeeling Express to speaking openly and publicly about issues of discrimination and harassment in the industry, she is paving the way for women and women of colour to follow their passion whilst challenging social norms. Asma and her food are not only trailblazing here in the UK, but also internationally, as she was the first British chef to be featured on the popular Netflix series, Chef’s Table.
Anna has long been someone whose food we have admired. We are certain it takes a genius to deliver consistently mind-blowing delicious food and flavours in such a seemingly effortless and unpretentious way. We clearly know a lot of effort goes into making The Modern Pantry a success. Anna is also big on sourcing food locally and sustainably. As well as being one of Britain’s more renowned female chefs, for which she was awarded and MBE in 2012, she is widely admired in the industry for nurturing talent and being nice to work with, which comes as a breath of fresh air in a largely male dominated and ego-driven industry.
Pastry Chef, turned people connector, Gill has worked at several well known restaurants and is known for her amazing pastry creations. Of late she is perhaps best known for Countertalk, a network of chefs set up to give exposure to underrepresented and female chefs in the industry. The network hosts sold out events where chefs are able to share and showcase their talent, discuss and debate key industry issues or simply to get to know their fellow chefs over a meal. Countertalk also publicises industry jobs, but not jobs in any restaurants or kitchens, only those offering fair pay, reasonable working hours and a supportive environment need apply. We like that Ravneet is helping to create a much needed space for frank discussion and a support network for those in the restaurant industry whilst supporting business owners who choose to make their kitchens great places to work.
Considering we’re also in the reviews game, this might be an obvious choice, but of all the food critics that we follow, there’s something about Grace that we admire the most. It’s not just her brutally honest humour, don’t get me wrong, we do admire that, or the fact that we can’t help but read her reviews in an imagined slightly comedy Northern accent (you can find us doing this most Saturday mornings), or the fact that she is mostly plant-based. We most admire Grace because she has helped to hold the restaurant industry to account and calls it like she sees it. You know when you read a review that the foam and the fancy plating won’t pull the wool, and if anything she’ll take the piss (we happen to also be anti-foam). Her honesty is fun and refreshing and whilst we may not agree with her every verdict we thoroughly enjoy reading about her culinary exploits. It will comes as no surprise that she is not short of admirers, as her recent book deal sparked a ‘heated’ 15-way bidding war, with Harper Collins winning to publish her next food memoir.
Stordalen trained as a physician but is also a well known environmental campaigner and activist, and most recently she turned her passion and efforts to addressing global food system challenges. In 2013, Stordalen founded the EAT Initiative with the idea of transforming the global food system to ensure the growing population a healthy and nutritious diet within safe environmental limits. In 2014, together with the Stordalen Foundation and the Stockholm Resilience Center she hosted the first EAT Stockholm Food Forum, dealing with the connection between food, health and sustainability. Following this, the Wellcome Trust joined Stockholm Resilience Center and the Stordalen Foundation in launching the independent EAT Foundation in 2016, enabling the EAT Stockholm Food Forum to become an annual event. With more and more global events taking place and a recent report published with academics and scientists from The Lancet, Guinhild is leading the way in shaping the evidence on food and sustainability, and how this can help support and speed up much needed wider food system change.