Girls on Fire

I met dozens of strangers this week.  Staring at each of their faces, I thought I was looking into a mirror.

For the past few days, we held "open hiring" at my restaurant in Rockford.  I was in awe of the sheer magnitude of folks interested in applying for a job, but was even more in awe of the sheer magnitude of things we had in common.

For starters, the majority of applicants were women.

I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see how many females want to work as line cooks.  When I first went to culinary school, it was rare to find a woman looking for a line cook job, much less the job of a chef or a sous chef.  Fast forward 20 years, and they're coming out of the woodwork.


Because it's 2018 and we're tired of being stuck making salads, that's why.

Listening to these women's stories, I heard so many similarities to my own experiences.  One woman was sexually harassed on the job, and her employer all but fired her for daring to speak out.  Another watched as her less-qualified male colleagues were given raises and bonuses, knowing she could never be promoted beyond a garde manger position.  And one even left the whole industry for awhile because the chef verbally abused her so badly.

It all rang so true. Then it dawned on me.

Twenty years ago, it wasn't that no women were looking for a line cook job; it was that they knew they wouldn't find one even if they tried.

Reader, my reflection this week is dual-fold.  First, no matter how unique we think we are in our suffering, we just aren't.  Others are going through it all too.  Take heart in that fact.  As alone as we feel when we're in the dumps, our situation is far from extraordinary.

Second, being put down my other people can be used to your advantage.  The fire these women had in their eyes is the kind that only comes from being told you aren't enough.  That fire is the kind that makes you want to prove the oppressors wrong.  It makes you want to succeed more.  It makes you push yourself farther than the others thought you could go.  

And it sure as hell makes you the kind of person I want in my kitchen.

With that, this woman is off to hit the hay.  I leave you with a memory of my Halloween this week (I chose to dress up as Captain Planet, because the earth could use some saving these days).  I hope you have a super week. -Em

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