Chef Tom Colicchio is speaking out about harassment in the restaurant world.
"The recent ‘revelations’ of rampant sexual harassment in the restaurant industry weren’t exactly a shocker to the women working in it. Or the men, for that matter," he wrote in a letter to male chefs posted on Medium on Wednesday.
Last month, chef John Besh stepped down from his company after sexual harassment allegations from more than two dozen women were reported by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
"This isn’t just a matter of a few bad eggs and we all know it. For every John Besh splashed across Page Six, we can assume hundreds, if not thousands, more with kitchens just like the ones his female employees described," wrote Colicchio.
The problem extends far beyond fine dining. In a survey of about 1,200 women in fast food by Hart Research Associates last year, 40% said they had experienced unwanted sexual behaviors on the job (such as teasing, inappropriate questions, and unwanted hugging), including 28% experienced multiple forms of harassment.
Here are some other excerpts from Colicchio's post, which you can read in full here.
"[I]t’s time for men in the restaurant industry to say to each other: enough.
Enough; Because deep down men know that sexist shit-talk is just a lazy substitute for real wit.
They know that work is not sexy time.
They know that if they have to insist it was consensual, it probably wasn’t.
They know that women really don’t want to hear about their boners (and that they shouldn’t say boner because they’re not fifteen.)"
"[I]s it any wonder that dick culture persists in professional kitchens when most of the women are gone from the back of the house by the time they hit their 30s? When the ones who remain are paid, on average, 28% less than their male counterparts? Men vastly outnumber women as chefs in top kitchens, but not, as legend has it, because only ‘real men’ can stand the heat."
"[L]et’s scrap those beloved myths about brawn, blood, and blind sacrifice that chefs and their acolytes use to justify exploitative work conditions. Sure, we all sweated and scrapped and worked damn hard to get where we are, but most of us did it without the added torment of sexual harassment. Enough."
"I’m betting that we’re smart and confident enough to level the playing field and create real opportunity, or at least learn how it’s done from the new crop of women (and men) running their own kickass kitchens humanely and winning awards, while parenting young kids. I’m betting we can reinvent our industry as a place where people of all genders feel safe and prepare to lead."
Venessa Wong is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Wong covers the food industry.
Contact Venessa Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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