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Chicago Chefs Speak Up About Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

Diana Dávila, Sarah Grueneberg, Beverly Kim, and Alpana Singh sound off

A dark-haired woman leaning against a bar and smiling.
Beverly Kim
Marc Much

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).

Bread & Wine

3732 W Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618 773 866 5266

Parachute

3472 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website

Brindille

534 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 595-1616 Visit Website

Monteverde

1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041

Terra & Vine

1701 Maple Ave, Evanston, IL 60201

The Publican

837 West Fulton Market, , IL 60607 (312) 733-9555 Visit Website

NAHA

500 North Clark Street, , IL 60654 (312) 321-6242 Visit Website

Mi Tocaya Antojeria

2800 W Logan blvd, Chicago, IL 60647 (872) 315-3947 Visit Website

Prairie Grass Cafe

601 Skokie Boulevard, , IL 60062 (847) 205-4433 Visit Website

Maple & Ash

8 West Maple Street, , IL 60610 (312) 944-8888 Visit Website

Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar

2700 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 661-9577 Visit Website

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