To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting some of our favourite chefs and hosts who have infused Gusto with their culture, perspective, and cooking wisdom. Food has the unique ability to tell stories, express identity, and inspire people around the world – it is an expression of who we are, where we come from, and how we live. Women are embedded in Gusto’s DNA and we always seek to elevate them; to celebrate and tell their stories. Today, and everyday, we appreciate the dedication, resilience, and boldness with which these amazing women have successfully solidified their place in the food industry.
In honour of this, we caught up with a few of our hosts to have an honest conversation on what it really means to be a woman in the food industry, where it’s headed, and how their perspectives have changed.
How has being a woman in the food industry shaped your experience?
Bianca Osbourne (CombiNation Plates): I think being a woman has been one of the biggest influences on my career as a chef. I always knew that I wanted no part of the typical macho restaurant kitchen scene, which is the typical route; instead I fashioned my career around things that played into my social nature and love of a crowd, like catering and teaching.
Lauren Gulyas (A is for Apple): When I was 18 I was living in Whistler cooking in the restaurant on the top of the mountain. It had different food stations but you can imagine the burger station was the most insane place to be during the lunch rush. It was only ever run by men. I started giving my chef a hard time about it so he ‘jokingly’ put me on the grill to ‘prove to me’ that it was too hard for a woman. Well. I killed it. I was on the grill every single day after that. If there’s one thing I hate it’s a man telling me I can’t do something because I’m a woman. Don’t. Do it.
Mary Tang (One World Kitchen): Being a woman is one thing, but being a Chinese woman is not common in the media world, particularly as TV show hosts. I hope I can inspire other women of colour to pursue their dreams in the food industry.
Theresa Visintin (A is for Apple): Growing up, I watched my mom take opportunities to be an entrepreneur in the food industry. For me personally, it gave me back a sense of self after years of being a stay at home mom. Don’t get me wrong, motherhood has been the greatest gift, but after spending years focusing on the needs of my family, I found myself a bit lost! The food industry has been a place of self discovery and adventure for me.
While filming Cook Like a Chef, Natalia Machado and Katie Ardington sat down to talk about what it takes to be a woman in the food industry.
Has being the host of a show changed your perspective on the industry?
Jasmin Rose Ibrahim (One World Kitchen): Being a host on One World Kitchen opened my eyes to opportunities and diversity. Food is an unspoken language that brings people together. Collaborating and learning from other chefs has been humbling and inspiring.
Jessica McGovern (Flour Power): A lot of people see the food industry as being quite demanding, and competitive. Hosting a retro-styled dessert-themed show feels like the antithesis of that! Also, before the experience of hosting the show, I assumed that all chefs on TV had extensive and thorough culinary training, but then I realized that you can be taught to cook by your grandmother and mother, experiment and refine your style yourself, and if you have a little talent, passion, and luck, you can go on to film dozens of episodes of a hit TV show..!
Kimberly Lallouz (One Big Recipe): Well it certainly changed the way I look at television. Can’t watch a show without thinking of how it’s being shot and with what type of cameras and so on. Honestly when I host, I try to be the most honest version of myself and entertain my viewers while hopefully inspiring them to have fun in the kitchen and cook more!
It has definitely changed the way I look at making recipes, and the older I get, the simpler I like things. I also learn a lot when hosting! I LOVE IT! Can’t wait to get back on set.
What do you see for women in the industry in the next three-to-five years?
Joanna Chery (One World Kitchen): We’ve made great strides in recent years. We’re seeing a number of great talents emerge on the scene and it can only keep growing. If more women in the industry can bring in a new perspective about how “things are done” and challenge the status quo, which can often be super competitive, aggressive and toxic, then all the better. We need to take our place in a world we’ve traditionally been excluded from. Women have been doing the work in the domestic sphere for millennia, now it’s time to take our talents out into the world at large!
Natalia Machado (One World Kitchen, Cook Like a Chef): I see more doors opening and hopefully a lot more taking the chance. It’s a beautiful profession and more women will just make it more beautiful.
Leah Wildman (A is for Apple): I really love seeing women supporting women and I’m seeing a lot of it right now. I think it’s important because there tends to be this subconscious wiring that to survive you have to cut the other out or be the girl who fits in with the guys. I think we need to shed this belief in order to celebrate what it means to be a woman.
Coming up, I see more women uplifting each other. I see women leading by example for the younger generation, as well.
Vanessa Gianfrancesco (One World Kitchen, Pressure’s ON, Let’s Brunch): I would love to continue to watch women thrive in an industry that has forever been so male dominated. And at the same time I wish for peace and equality among genders in the kitchen. I think that the kitchen should be a place where there is no gender discrimination, but rather it be more of a place where people come together and share their inspiring recipes and passion for cooking! And I think as women we can drive this industry towards that direction.
Do you have a favourite recipe from your show?
Joanna Chery (One World Kitchen): All the recipes on One World Kitchen were very special to me. Greek cuisine is not often very known or viewed narrowly and I’m glad I got to show the viewers at home what it’s really about. If I were to pick one recipe though, it would be the Saint Fanourios Cake, which was a favorite of my grandmother’s. Making it on the show brought me back to my childhood and really made me feel connected to her memory.
Natalia Machado (One World Kitchen, Cook Like a Chef): The very first recipe from OWK, Duck Carpaccio. It’s a staple in all my kitchens; even at home.
Mary Tang (One World Kitchen): I do! The Winter Melon Soup cooked in a steamed winter melon really hits a chord with me and actually brings me to tears. My grandma on my dad’s side used to make this for us as kids for special occasions.
During the taping of this episode, I actually cried before the taping. This dish brings happy and delicious memories of my childhood.
My recipes are rooted in my heritage, my upbringing, and every dish has a story.
Jessica McGovern (Flour Power): My all-time favourite dessert is Pavlova, so it was very hard to get me off set when I had to sit down and eat that one at the end of the episode. I’m pretty sure I snuck a few extra pieces into the dressing room afterwards!
A big thank you to our hosts who not only participated in this celebration of International Women’s Day, but have also left a lasting legacy in Gusto’s history. Be on the lookout for more inspiring content, highlights, and recipes this month as we honour Women’s History Month!