The number of women-owned restaurants is on the rise. This past weekend, three celebrity chefs, who happened to be women, were in town preparing lavish dinners for the prestigious Naples Winter Wine Festival.
Teri Evans sat down with Jennifer Jasinski, an executive chef and owner of Rioja; Cassidee Dabney, executive chef of Blackberry Farm; and, Sarah Gruenberg, chef and partner of Monteverde.
Teri: A lot of young women see you as role models and trailblazers – are you comfortable with that?
Jen: Every action that you do every day represents who you are as a person. I try to be a good role model. My mom was a great role model for me.
Cassidee: You need to be a good example to people. You really learn a lot about somebody just watching them cook. The way they flow in the kitchen the way they move and interact with people. It’s really important. If someone’s rude to my dishwasher, you’re not hired.
Teri: What advice do you have for the next generation of chefs?
Cassidee: I would say slow down. Slow down. It’s not a race.
Jen: You have to start at the bottom, I really there’s no way to skip around.
Sarah: Travel. If you’re interested in a cuisine go there, go there and see the food, see the kitchen.
Teri: What does a cooking event like this mean to all of you?
Cassidee: To have your name on a piece of paper and to be in a place you never expected yourself to be is kind of humbling.
Sarah: It is.
Jen: Women are more in politics, more in leadership, more everywhere. I definitely do think it will keep progressing.
Teri: Are your management styles different than what you experienced moving up through the ranks?
Cassidee: I haven’t thrown anything at anybody, so that’s nice. I feel good about that.
Jen: I’ve worked for some great people but also some chefs that really tried to…I think they were intimidated by me like coming through the ranks and they really tried to hold me down.
Sarah: I do think people do need stern-like serious conversations – direct – not like everything is a rainbow and we’re just here cooking food. I think the other style back in the day was in front of everybody as like a humiliation tactic and now it’s like we’re going to go in the office and talk.