Last month, a panel of 12 women in Chicago’s restaurant industry — chefs, owners, sommeliers, a beverage director, and a PR consultant — gathered for a closed-to-the-public round table to discuss sexual harassment and misconduct within the workplace. The group — a cross section of ethnicities and experiences — was put together by the Tribune to address the #MeToo movement, to share their challenges, and to offer advise.
The paper on Thursday published a story about the private panel. More women than ever are coming forward with their stories. Locally, it’s led to One Off Hospitality’s firing of Publican restaurants chef Cosmo Goss. Harassment isn’t a new issue, but it’s a new landscape when it comes to hearing stories and accountability. Some members of Chicago’s food media are struggling to adjust.
Diana Dávila, Eater Chicago’s chef of the year, was among the women was participated in the Tribune’s panel. In an interview with Eater Chicago, she said it was interesting to hear how age, race, and class affected perspectives. Some women were exposed to harassment and misconduct more often than others, while others had the privilege to ignore certain issues. Dávila, chef/owner of Mi Tocaya Antojeria in Logan Square, in that interview and at the panel said sexualized comments from kitchen coworkers have led her to cry.
Panelists talked about what men should do, gaslighting, and how different beauty standards from women affect the industry. Here’s a few nuggets:
— Jan Henrichsen, the GM/beverage director at Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar in West Town, said it wasn’t so much a flood of men inappropriately exposing themselves physically, but it’s about how easy it is for them to abuse their power.
— Carrie Nahabedian of Brindille and Naha (the latter was where the panel took place), urged owners and other leaders to have the integrity to create a workplace where misconduct isn’t accepted.
— Beverly Kim, of Parachute in Avondale, talked about the pressures in remaining silent. If women spoke up, their chances of a promotion or remaining in their industry altogether dwindled. Kim shared her experiences with sexual harassment via an Eater Chicago essay published last year during A Day Without A Woman.
— Dana Cree, executive pastry chef at the Publican restaurants — where Goss worked — talked about the aforementioned shift in landscape. The industry has to get its act together as millennials aren’t “putting up with it,” she said.
There’s much more in the story about the industry as a breeding ground for rape culture. Other panelists include Mindy Segal (HotChocolate), Alpana Singh (Boarding House, Terra & Vine), Belinda Chang (ex-Maple & Ash), Sarah Grueneberg, (Monteverde), Amber Lancaster (Sable), Sarah Stegner (Prairie Grass Cafe), and Jennifer Wisniewski (ex-Bread & Wine).
- Top Chicago women chefs push back against industry’s culture of sexual harassment [Tribune]
- Fired Publican Chef Cosmo Goss Leaves His Own Restaurant Before it Opens [ECHI]
- Buzz List for January 15, 2018 [Fooditor]
- Diana Dávila is Not Afraid to Redefine Mexican Cuisine [ECHI]
- The Double Standard Women Deal With in Restaurant Kitchens [ECHI]