|By JULIETTE ROSSANT|
In February 2005, superchefblog brought the idea of White House guest chefs to public attention; cooking duo Mary Sue Millken and Susan Feniger won, announced on March 1. Less than a week later, Women Chef and Restaurateurs (WCR) brought the idea of a woman as full-time executive chef at the White House to public attention. Superchefblog feels responsible for setting this in motion (see previous article): it seems high time to get some actual names out as well. So, superchefblog is running another poll, this time to vote for who should be the first woman executive chef at the White House.
I have made this as easy and comprehensive as limited time, resources, and my own knowledge allow. Below is a short list of women chefs all across America, by no means complete. Still, the list is rather large -- and that is to suggest to the public (and the White House) that there are many excellent women chefs among whom to choose the first executive chef of the White House. Also, unlike the men, women are rarely super chefs -- according to my stringent definition, the basis of the book Super Chef -- so in fact many top American women chefs are eligible candidates, since they do not have empires to manage. (If you feel strongly that you or another chef should be added to this page, please email me, too.)
In my search for female chefs, I was disappointed not to find any African-Americans, although I did find Asian- and Hispanic-Americans. Jacques Pepin, in his marvelous autobiography, The Apprentice (Houghton Mifflin 2003), commented on the same phenomenon:
I think back to my first days at Howard Johnson’s. At that time, the vast majority of faces in kitchens throughout America were black. These chefs were as smart and talented as anyone I’d worked beside. It baffles me that African Americans have been largely absent from the culinary revolution of the past four decades... There is a lost generation of African American chefs, and the nation’s cuisine is the poorer for it. (p. 242)I could not agree more.
On the other hand, I would like voters to keep in mind that Cris Comerford (top of the list under "East Coast," below) is already in-house: the naturalized Filipina is currently Assistant White House Chef, reporting to the Executive Chef... One would hope that the White House would give her strong consideration and reward her previous service with advancement -- also that the White House would in fact hire from within first before looking outside.
Poll closes on April 29, 2005: winner will be announced May 2, 2005.
Please help get out the vote by telling family, friends, and any blogs or media outlets about this vote.
(Mrs. Bush, I hope this helps. It's time for a little more Girl Power in the White House!)
VOTE HERE FORInstructions: