A Woman's Place is in the Kitchen: The Evolution of Women Professional Chefs

Ann Cooper, Author International Thomson Publishing Services $29.95 (300p) ISBN 978-0-442-02370-6
In a worthwhile but slow-going effort, Cooper--herself a 20-year veteran of professional kitchens--relates carefully researched information gleaned from surveys of and interviews with 500 female chefs and other culinary personnel. The results are grim and predictable: women face special hardships in the culinary workplace. Certain facts (that grueling restaurant hours often sabotage relationships, that women are often automatically placed in subordinate roles) are reiterated through statistics and quotes, many of them vague and repetitive. Women are often portrayed here as having special talents: well-known chefs such as Anne Rosenweig and Lidia Bastianich are quoted as saying that women have a more intimate connection with food. But this is indicative of a certain fuzziness, lending a sense that Cooper has tried to cover too much ground. The boxes with adoring biographies of well-known female chefs such as Barbara Tropp and Julia Child and footnotes with general food trivia (a 1941 study showed that fewer than one-fourth of Americans had healthy diets) seem consumer-oriented. But in fact, the book is probably aimed at culinary students who will appreciate its ample load of history and the generous reference section that includes a wide-ranging bibliography, a list of professional organizations and a section of brief ""Women Chef Biographies,"" which, strangely, include Alain Sailhac, Andre Soltner and Fritz Sonnenschmidt. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-471-29208-1
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