Reader: What does gender have to do with cooking ability?

Categories: Cafe Society

Lori Midson
The Denver FIVE for 2014: Nadine Donovan, Aniedra Nichols, Carrie Shores, Elise Wiggins and Jenna Johansen
The Denver FIVE is Leigh Sullivan's "passion project," and she's just introduced the seventh FIVE class of featured chefs -- and for the first time, all five are women: Nadine Donovan (Old Major), Aniedra Nichols (Elway's Cherry Creek), Carrie Shores (Table 6), Elise Wiggins (Panzano) and Jenna Johansen (Epicurean Group).

See also: Leigh Sullivan announces the 2014 Denver FIVE -- and they're all fabulous females!

The fabulous females got TheFabulousMarkT thinking:

(NOTE - Please understand that this is not a slam on this particular article. I have seen what I'm about to refer to in many, many periodicals, and just thought this was a good time to broach the subject.)

Now, this may not be a terribly popular opinion, but I'm reminded of a comment Joni Mitchell made back around 1997. She said:

"One guy came up to me and said, You're the best female singer-songwriter in the world.' I was thinking: What do you mean female? That's like saying you're the best [very outdated racial term].'"

My point is that - it's great that these folks have achieved this, but why don't we just refer to them as "the 2014 FIVE winners"? Why bring their gender into it at all, unless their uteri/ovaries/etc. have a direct bearing on their cooking ability (if this is true, I'd love to hear about it). :D

I mean, would we say, "Oh wow, look - there are three Colorado chefs on The Next Food Network Star and they all happen to be black people!"?

Just my $0.02....

It is a good time to broach the subject, because we're just finishing up our Best of Denver 2014 Readers' Poll, and while we'll once again feature the crowd-pleasing "Best Hair on a TV Anchor -- Male" and "Best Hair on a TV Anchor -- Female," when it comes to the best at doing the actual job, we keep the categories gender-free. It's simply Best Anchor, as it is Best Chef or Best Bartender. Do you agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below -- and look for our Best of Denver Readers' Poll on January 16.

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Because it doesn't help anything to walk around pretending like there aren't differences in equality. To solve a problem, you must first acknowledge it exists. Joni's comment is different - someone was telling her "you're good for a female." Westword wasn't qualifying their observation like that.

TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

@bondadprevalece True :) The point I was trying to make though was that dragging the differences out to the forefront of the discussion doesn't really seem to be beneficial either, as it can cause one to ask "well, why is this the deciding factor?"

Mantonat topcommenter

@TheFabulousMarkT  More questions are better than fewer questions. The question "well, why is this the deciding factor?" can't be answered if it's not asked.

I don't know how the folks behind the decision-making would answer the question, but the the most obvious answer to me is that it's not a competition to decide who's best, it's a recognition of achievement and quality; plenty of men have already been recognized so now its time to recognize some equally talented and successful women.

If this were an award, a straight up declaration of "best chef," then of course it's not about gender or anything else. It's just about who cooks the best food or runs the kitchen that turns out the best food.

TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

@bondadprevalece @Mantonat @TheFabulousMarkT Oh, I'm not trying to say that (and I'm not saying that you're saying I am either) :) But depending on the manner in which the distinguishing is done, sometimes an effect/perception opposite to the desired one can be achieved. 


@Mantonat @TheFabulousMarkT Yeah. I mean, men have been distinguished since the dawn of time. It seems a bit disingenuous to suddenly declare we're all equal, and thus now distinguishing  opposite sex shouldn't be done.

TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

@Mantonat @TheFabulousMarkT I guess. I mean, to me it kind of is an award (although not in the traditional sense - maybe "accolade" is more accurate?) but at the same time I do see your point as well.

By the way, if I'd been more of a Café Society commenter when the last FIVE crop (the guys) were fêted, I might very well have asked this exact same question back then (if the headline had read something like, "Look at the five dudes who got FIVE!" or something akin). I'm bolshy that way :D

Just wanted to set the record straight in case I inadvertently conveyed the wrong impression. Any time one group (no matter whom they are - privileged or otherwise) seems to be emphasized over others, it does tend to set my radar off.

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