Yesterday in New York City, the biannual food magazine Cherry Bombe hosted their inaugural Jubilee conference. The star-studded lineup included prominent chefs like Anita Lo (Annisa, NYC), April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig, NYC), and Suzanne Goin (A.O.C., LA), food media folks like Christine Muhlke, Mimi Sheraton, and Charlotte Druckman, and a keynote conversation with author, former New York Times critic, and former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl.
As described in the program, the goal of the day-long event was to be "a celebration of women in the world of food" and to be a place for "conversation about the issues big and small that affect us, our loved ones, our colleagues, and our livelihoods." Panel discussions and presentations on topics as diverse as entrepreneurialism, the relationship between chefs and the media, culinary school, and many others prompted lively conversation, much of which was not outrightly about gender. Below are the top ten quotes from the day. Have a look:
1) Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar, NYC), on being yourself: "It's hard to remember who you are in a kitchen environment where you're being stripped down to be built back up."
2) April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig, NYC), agreeing with Anita Lo (Annisa, NYC) on the minimum amount of time to stay at a cooking job: "If you worked at my restaurant for less than a year, don't tell anyone you worked here."
3) Katie Button (Cúrate, Asheville, NC) on luck: "I think the word of the day that women tend to repeat is 'lucky.' I think I've heard every single person today say that. And yes, there's that piece of luck in it. But I don't think any of us would be here if there wasn't hard work, passion, drive, and professionalism."
4) Martha Hoover (Cafe Patachou, Indianapolis), on opening a restaurant in Indiana in the '80s: "We were known nationally as a testing ground for every chain restaurant ... If I wanted to eat the kind of food that I wanted to serve, I figured there would be other people who did."
5) Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy, NYC), on the relationship between chefs and the media: "Put yourself out there, the more you put yourself out there, the more successful you're going to be ... Promote yourself as much as possible ... Media makes your career now."
6) Mimi Sheraton, on whether the media has a responsibility to cover female chefs: "I don't think we should go out of our way to find women and give them perhaps more leeway than men might have gotten."
7) Suzanne Goin (A.O.C., Los Angeles), on being a chef and a mother: "I'm always disappointing someone. I'm still not okay with it, but I have to accept it. Some nights, a lot of nights, it's my kids."
8) Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune, NYC), on making motherhood and being a chef work: "You have to own [the restaurant]."
9) Ruth Reichl, on women in the food industry: "One of things that we don't think about enough is that maybe women are looking for something different, maybe fame isn't the thing we should be thinking about ... I know so many women who are chefs in ways that's very satisfying to them, and so many men who are chefs in ways that aren't. And maybe we need to think that we should change the model of what we consider success for women in food."
10) Ruth Reichl, on the contemporary food media landscape: "The blogs just get better and better and better, and what it's done is made the quote professional writers have to be much better. So they're better than they've ever been before. The problem is, and the problem I found at Gourmet, is the things that are the meaty things, the food politics, aren't sexy. Magazines don't want to do it, no advertisers don't want to be near it ... There's a real pressure in commercial magazines to keep things light, to do things that advertisers like."