Chefs join forces to support women in the sector

time:2023-05-31 01:34:09 source:The New York Times

A group of female chefs have joined forces to boost charities that support women in their industry.

Angelina Adamo, 24, was inspired to coordinate a fundraising evening after the hospitality sector was hit by both Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis.

She said she also wanted to "shine a light on women" whom she added got far less attention than male chefs.

The charity dinner is at The Wilderness restaurant in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter on 30 October.

"I've been a chef since I was 16 and in every kitchen I've worked in, at times I've been the only female," said Ms Adamo, who since working at the city's Michelin-starred Simpson's restaurant has set up her own private chef company, Tutto Apposto.

Kitchens are "a stressful environment," she said, and although things were "definitely changing", more work was needed, she added, to ensure women in the industry got the support they needed.

Anawim, which supports women in Birmingham and Burnt Chef, a charity which provides mental health training and support for professional kitchen workers, will be the fundraiser's beneficiaries.

"It's really close to my heart," said Ms Adamo, who suffers with anxiety, of Burnt Chef.

Long antisocial hours, as well as working under pressure, has meant that more than 80% of hospitality professionals have experienced mental health issues within their careers, according to the charity.

Since pandemic lockdowns ended, Ms Adamo said she had seen a large number of promising chefs leaving the industry as they sought out less demanding and better-paid work.

Speaking of her own experience, she said she was working round the clock and often only sleeping for four hours, before the pandemic meant she was unable to work for a couple of weeks.

"I didn't realise how exhausted I was," she said.

Ms Adamo has masterminded the fundraiser's main course alongside MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Louisa Ellis.

Staff from local venues round out the team for the evening.

Michelin-trained chef Poppy O'Toole will prepare the first course while Georgia Frend, sous chef at Simpson's, and Farah Chaudry of Pause Birmingham, are in charge of desserts.

Couch's Katie Rouse will provide cocktails while the wine pairings have been decided by sommelier Abigail Connolly from Arch 13 At Connolly's.

She said she would be focussing on promoting female wine producers to highlight women in "another male-dominated industry".

Ms Connolly said there had been times in her career when she had really struggled with her mental health, "but as front of house, I have to put a smile on every day".

Ms Connolly said being a woman working in hospitality could be "demoralising" at times and since the pandemic a lot of workers had left after realising their mental health would improve outside of the industry.

By promoting mental health within the sector, she said she hoped to shift perceptions of restaurants based on "big telly chefs" shouting at staff to a more welcoming and supportive environment.

"It's an intense industry," she said. "You have to have a really thick skin but it shouldn't feel that way."

She said she was "really excited" to promote some of Birmingham's top female culinary talent, adding that the more women that made it to the top of the industry "the better it will be for all women".

Ms Adamo said: "It is so special that we are able to bring this incredible line-up of women together for this dinner."

pursue BBC West Midlands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to:

Recommended content