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Ladies Who Lunch

This past November, Time magazine produced an article that outlined “influencers” in the world of food, and not one female chef was among them.

stephanie march

There’s nothing like a bit of hubris to get my hackles up. This past November, Time magazine produced an article, titled “The Gods of Food,” in which it outlined “influencers” in the world of food, and not one female chef was among them. While disappointed and rather disgusted by the old guard media boy’s club, I was happy to see a building, buzzing outrage all over the country about this. And I was grateful, because it gave me a bit of a wake-up call.

Purely by coincidence, or maybe magically, harmoniously convergent, our December Tastemakers topic was all about the ladies. These events, which you should get to, are smaller-space gatherings in which Dara and I get to distill aspects of our local food conversation with the people who are out there walking the walk. It’s intensely focused, often deeply humorous, and there’s usually beer. Our last panel included Zoë François, who is sparking the revolution in home bread baking; Jacquie Berglund, whose beer brewing profits all go to feeding the hungry; and Jodi Ohlsen Read, a softly tenacious cheesemaker who is the president of the newly formed Minnesota Cheesemakers Guild.

Because of this event, and the smiling-smarmy boy-gods of Time, I got to really meditate on all the women who make our eating scene tick. Sure, you know the chef names Russell, Lenny, and Isaac, but would you know them as well if it weren’t for their partners in life and toil, Desta, Mega, and Nancy, all of whom actively orchestrate the other half of your dining experience? We’ve gotten all sorts of national props for Jamie Malone, who runs the kitchen at Sea Change; Michelle Gayer, who owns Salty Tart; Ann Kim of Pizzeria Lola fame; and the dynamic duo of Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer, who damn near pioneered the local food truck movement. Then there’s Molly Broder, who is raising a whole new generation of restaurateurs, and Brenda Langton, who invented farm-to-table dining locally. I could go on and on. Blessedly.

And I think that’s why I was so incensed by the article. Time claimed that it was just reporting on the culture that exists, that it didn’t set out to exclude women, which, to me, is either lazy or a lie. The national scene is a lot like our local scene—women are in every facet of the industry working and excelling, influencing what and how we eat every day. You have to WORK to exclude them, actively push them aside, which is what Time did. I guess I can give their team a pass for their shortsighted deism; it’s Time, after all. They can keep pretending that they’re “influencers” while the rest of us pull up a chair to the table where the real discussions are happening.

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