This story has been updated.
All of the top jobs in kitchens have historically been dominated by men, except for one: the pastry chef. It’s one of the few jobs in the kitchen where women dominate in top awards: In this year’s James Beard Award nominations, it’s the only chef category where all of the nominees are women. So why, then, are three out of the four chefs featured on the new pastry-focused season of the Netflix show “Chef’s Table” men?
The question has come up in the industry after the trailer for the new season made its debut March 19, featuring four chefs:
— Will Goldfarb, an American chef who opened Room4Dessert, a dessert-only restaurant in Bali, Indonesia.
— Corrado Assenza, the fourth-generation owner of a 124-year-old cafe in Sicily, Italy, who has been called “The Ferran Adrià of pastry.”
— Jordi Roca, one-third of the Roca brothers at Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca, the third-best restaurant in the world in 2017.
— Christina Tosi, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Milk Bar and television personality featured on such shows as “MasterChef.”
The fact that pastry has been a popular avenue for women in the kitchen has been a blessing and a curse. Some in the industry have called the pastry station the “pink ghetto” or “pink dungeon” — a place where women can thrive, but never really leave.
In one interview, chef April Bloomfield discussed turning down a pastry job, because “I already had this perception that pastry was a woman’s job, and I had my eye on the prize, and the prize was saute and grill,” she told Fortune. Chef Jacqueline Lombard, who competed on “Top Chef,” told Thrillist: “When I got my first job they did make me do pastry one day a week, because that was a girl’s job. They thought that I would be more comfortable there. They said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to do pastry all the time?’”
Nevertheless, since being featured on “Chef’s Table” is a major accolade for a chef, the pastry season seemed to present an opportunity — especially given the lack of representation of women on the show overall. Out of 18 episodes, five women have been featured: Niki Nakayama, Dominique Crenn, Jeong Kwan, Nancy Silverton and Ana Ros. (One woman, Adeline Grattard, was featured in the French spinoff of the show.) Silverton, for what it’s worth, told the New York Times in a 1992 article about female pastry chefs that she became one to get a job at a top Santa Monica, Calif., restaurant. “For a lot of chefs around the country, that was the one position they would accept women in,” she said.
So when the “Chef’s Table” trailer came out, the omission was notable.
Director David Gelb issued a statement, which he also posted on Twitter:
“We agree there should be better representation of women across the board and we’re committed to improving. There are many amazing chefs, from all walks of life, who inspire us and whose stories deserve to be told. We hope you enjoy the new season and the talented chefs behind it.”