Column

YOU GO, GORD

The celebrity chef says women can’t cook? Damn right they can’t!

KATE FILLION November 7 2005
Column

YOU GO, GORD

The celebrity chef says women can’t cook? Damn right they can’t!

KATE FILLION November 7 2005

YOU GO, GORD

Column

The celebrity chef says women can’t cook? Damn right they can’t!

KATE FILLION

LAST WEEK, all hell broke loose in Britain when celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay declared, “There are huge numbers of young women out there who know how to mix cocktails but can’t cook to save their lives, whereas men are finding their way into the kitchen in ever-growing numbers.” He was promptly branded a sexist pig, and pilloried in the press.

The Independent even printed a learned treatise entitled “Why men are crap,” in which British luminaries such as novelist A.S. Byatt weighed in on men’s failings: they can’t

multi-task, they never remember what to buy at the supermarket, they pick their toenails in bed. “Oh, and by the way, boys,” author Jenny Colgan added, “of course we don’t cook (or eat) ever since you decided that you could only find us sexually attractive if we had the body of a 12-year-old boy who’s had an accident with two grapefruits and a staple gun.”

Ramsay, who owns a string of celebrated restaurants and is the star of a new cooking show aptly titled The F Word, then found it necessary to go on the record denying that he’s a male chauvinist: “Some women say, ‘We’ve all got careers now and we’re not going back to cook your f—ing tea.’ But I’m not trying to return to what my mum experienced. Nothing of it. There’s a certain amount of machismo with cooking, and I don’t understand why women don’t see it as glamorous as men do; to go into the kitchen and have a good service, a good old ding-dong.”

A good old ding-dong? Hello? Dinner parties, at which well-mannered guests are forced to simulate enjoyment and admiration of your culinary skills are one thing. But school lunches? Nutritious family meals? There’s too little time, too little help, and the ambience is less than glamorous, unless you relish the sound of one child whining “Not again” while the other makes loud barfing noises. Perhaps this is why women have become so adept at mixing cocktails.

This is also why, for so many women, cooking now consists of reheating something prepared and purchased in a store. The idea is to get in and out of the kitchen with minimal effort and a tiny emotional investment; the hauteur of the child food critic and the

long-suffering demeanour of the slow-chewing spouse are less hurtful if, in fact, making dinner simply entails opening a box.

Come to think of it, the British response to Ramsay makes no sense. He’s handed women the perfect excuse, and we should run with it. We can’t cook to save our lives?

BY THE WAY,

has anyone seen my husband? I feel like a nice cheese soufflé and need to place my order.

Damn right we can’t! By the way, has anyone seen my husband? I feel like a nice cheese soufflé and need to place my order before he takes the garbage out.

Frankly, Gordon Ramsay should be hailed as a feminist hero. He’s already declared war on “stick-thin models who never eat” and people who go “on a stupid diet like the Atkins or GI.” And now he’s denouncing women’s cooking and conning a bunch of other guys into believing food preparation is macho. Wasn’t this the point, to get men to do their fair share at home?

Clearly, poor salesmanship is the main reason this particular feminist project has failed so spectacularly. Banging pots and pans together in the kitchen while shrieking about the glass ceiling hasn’t really worked. And oddly, a lot of men still don’t want to do housework after countless harangues about the thankless drudgery it entails. Nor have they been seduced by the likes of Martha Stewart, with her finicky programs for making routine tasks as labour-intensive as possible. What’s been missing is a tough guy like Ramsay who swears a lot while extolling the manly virtues of domestic chores.

It’s probably already too late for the rest of us, but young women would be well advised to embrace any criticism of their abilities and hightail it out of the kitchen while they still can. Not only would they have a lot more free time on their hands, but henceforth their successful culinary efforts would be greeted with the amazement and applause currently reserved for men who scramble a few eggs every now and then.

In a neat twist, some young women can even blame their fathers for their own bad cooking. According to a new study by Betty Crocker Kitchens, almost one-quarter of women in their twenties say their dads taught them to cook. Only 12 per cent of women in their forties can say the same.

No word yet on who taught them to mix a martini, but I’ve got a hunch. lifl