Kate Miller Spencer: She’s a CookGirl

April 25 - On The Dot
 
FIRST THOUGHT: What’s Cooking, Ladies?

Every time I eat fresh pasta, I immediately make the Italian gesture of kissing my fingertips. There’s seriously nothing better. I was recently gifted a pasta maker and have still yet to try it out. Why? Well, the reason is simple: fear of failure.

We often tend to stick to what we know, what we’re good at. Trying new things can lead to looking silly or feeling disappointed. But what’s the alternative? Getting stuck in a boring rut and never making homemade pasta? Well, that’s no fun. Instead, I resolve to tackle my pasta-making fear and dive into my kitchen endeavor wholeheartedly, even if my effort is a total flop. Today, figure out what’s holding you back in the kitchen, devise a plan to harness your inner chef and get your cook on!

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 60 Percent

Women are tragically underrepresented in the food-producing agriculture industry, and it’s having a major impact on food security worldwide. What’s worse, according to the United Nations, 60 percent of undernourished people throughout the world are women and girls. But when it comes to gender equality and food security, women’s empowerment can be used as a tool to fight global hunger. When women have access to resources like land and credit, they can produce more valuable food sources and feed an estimated additional 100 million hungry people.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Kate Miller Spencer, CEO and Founder of CookGirl

When you watch chef competitions on TV, the contestants often refer to memories of Grandma cooking up the best dumplings, or Aunt Barbara serving the most delicious fried chicken. Given such strong female influences in the cooking world, it’s surprising that chef life is often perceived as a male vocation.

With an eye to the future and a desire to pursue a personal passion of promoting female chefs, Kate Miller Spencer created CookGirl to address this dilemma. CookGirl’s manifesto says it all: “The talent of being a chef truly has nothing to do with gender.” Well, duh! But despite this fact, women do face some specific obstacles when it comes to the culinary world. Kate made this eye-opening discovery after attending a Food & Wine Magazine event, where she spoke in depth with two talented chefs, one female and the other male, and learned the female chef had to work harder to progress in her career and did not have the same opportunities to start and grow her culinary ventures.

One key issue women chefs face, besides overt misogyny, is access to capital. If you want to open a restaurant, like any business, you need funding, and as Kate notes, this is a particularly acute problem in the culinary world. Additionally, male chefs generally receive more press, which creates buzz, and capital follows buzz. With CookGirl, Kate hopes to foster a space in which female chefs can connect, as well as bolster these chefs by garnering them lots of media attention.

And if anyone knows about how to get media attention, it’s Kate. She spent 28 years working for print magazines and running her own media firm, representing stellar culinary-focused publications like Food & Wine Magazine, Travel + Leisure and more. Now she’s focusing on her top two passions: food and girl power.

With the goal of bringing those passions together, Kate also founded the nonprofit CookGirl Foundation, through which grants were awarded for the first time in 2016 to three women in the culinary field: a newbie chef, an up-and-coming sous chef and a changemaker with innovative ideas for the food world.

Make no bones about it: You don’t have to be a chef to support women in the kitchen. While Kate has long been involved with the world of food, she admits she isn’t an astonishing chef. But Kate knows one thing for sure: Women deserve an equal shot at success in the kitchen. And we don’t want to miss a single bite!

QUITE THE QUOTE

Today’s quote comes from acclaimed chef and restaurateur Alice Waters. She said:

“If we celebrated food for what it should be celebrated for, women would just naturally rise to the top.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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