Changing The Way The Cookie Crumbles

Statistics show that 83% of chefs in the UK are male, according to data from the Office of National Statistics employment in 2018. Time then to cover three incredible chefs, who have managed to force their way into the small demographic of female chefs to show that women can be successful in a culinary world.

Claire Saffitz

Credit: Bon Appetit

If you don’t know Claire Saffitz then where have you been? Not only is Claire Saffitz a trained pastry chef (though she recently claimed that she’s “not a chef”) and a contributing food editor of Bon Appétit magazine, she is also a YouTube sensation! Saffitz’ stardom began in 2017 when she began the show Gourmet Makes for Bon Appétit’s YouTube channel. The show consists of Saffitz trying to recreate popular snack foods as well as elevating the foods to a more gourmet standard. Indeed the rising popularity of Gourmet Makes was due to Claire’s relatable ‘low’ moments. 

Claire herself stated in an interview with Mashable that “there’s some sort of transference from people, they get stress relief from watching my stress” and for anyone that has watched the show, this is certainly true. We are used to watching culinary shows where the chef is the expert and we absorb the information as viewers but it is Saffitz’s stressful cooking that engages us with content that has more entertainment value. It is certainly uplifting to watch Saffitz go through a rollercoaster of emotions, to then seeing her happy and relieved at the end of the episode. Therefore it is this emotional vulnerability, that is often deemed a ‘weakness’ in women, which has catalysed Claire Saffitz’s success. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Credit: The Times

Ravinder Bhogal was born in Kenya to Indian parents and grew up in London. It is this mixed culture and heritage that has enabled Bhogal to create impressive fusion dishes and menus. Bhogal is not just a remarkable chef, for she is also an award-winning food writer, journalist, TV presenter, stylist and restaurateur. Her most impressive achievement is the opening of her restaurant Jikoni in 2016. 

Jikoni is frankly an adorable restaurant with a cosy almost café-like feel to it and is designed in an overtly ‘feminine’ style, with a pale pink colour scheme and floral designs. However, it is not only Jikoni’s design that makes a statement but Bhogal’s menu too. Jikoni offers a variety of Asian comfort food, but with intriguing British, African and Middle Eastern twists, showing off Bhogul’s accumulation of travel and culture. The dish on the menu that appealed to me the most was the “Cold Silken Tofu, Peanuts, Puffed Wild Rice, Caramelised Foxnuts”, mainly because I was very intrigued by what foxnuts were, and also because it was one of the many creative vegan options on the menu. Bhogul’s interest in developing vegan dishes came about when her niece decided to become vegan. Consequently, Bhogul created a completely vegan menu for W London, which included her niece’s favourite, caramel tofu with garlic confit rice and chilli smacked cucumbers.

Samin Nosrat

Credit: Stylist

Samin Nosrat introduces herself on her website with “Hi. I’m Samin Nosrat. I cook. I write. I teach” and while it’s clear and simple, it undoubtedly does not give Nosrat’s talent justice. If you’re a foodie, or simply have access to a Netflix account, then you need to watch Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. The docuseries is based on Nosrat’s New York Times bestselling, and James Beard Award-winning book titled Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, which is written on the premise that the way to master the culinary arts is to master these four elements. In the Netflix series, the four elements are explored through four episodes in four countries: Italy, Japan, Mexico, and her home in California, USA. Its success led to Nosrat becoming an international culinary celebrity. 

Nosrat is recognised for her talent as well as her endearing personality (please watch “Brad Makes Focaccia Bread with Samin Nosrat” on Youtube). The Guardian even described her as someone that “projects the kind of charisma that fosters a sense of familiarity, allowing audiences to believe they know her”, which is very similar to the reason behind Claire Saffitz’s success. 

Anushka Searle