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Meet the 3 Chefs Behind the New Culinary Documentary, ‘A Woman’s Place’

The chefs weigh in on their career trajectories and gender inequality in the restaurant industry

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, KitchenAid, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.
Chef Karyn Tomlinson in the new culinary documentary A Woman’s Place, a Vox Creative production with KitchenAid.

Women in the culinary industry endure institutionalized sexism, making it difficult to rise to higher positions. Despite the fact that 51 percent of students at the Culinary Institute of America are female, only 7 percent go on to becoming head chefs and restaurateurs across the country today. But often, the threat of sexism is more direct — and dangerous. A 2014 report from Restaurant Opportunities Center United concluded that 90 percent of women in the food service industry have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

A Woman’s Place, now streaming on Hulu, is a new documentary short film by Ventureland, Vox Creative and KitchenAid that gives an intimate look at the culinary world through the eyes of three chefs, Karyn Tomlinson, Marielle Fabie and Etana Diaz. As each woman reflects on the biases and sexism that she faced at the beginning of her career, the stories seem to echo one another. Directed by Academy Award-winner Rayka Zehtabchi, we witness glimpses of their dark pasts intertwined with the brightest moments of their careers. Each woman carved out a place for herself in the industry — not just as a woman, but as a butcher, chef and restaurateur.

Chef Marielle Fabie

Although the film, A Woman’s Place, paints a picture of the biases, harassment and sexism each woman has to endure, it is more than a running tally of infractions. Instead the film serves as a celebration of these women, rightfully owning their place within the industry and anticipating the possibilities that lie ahead of them.

The film visits Tomlinson, a Grand Cochon champion, in Dassel, Minnesota, as she prepares for her night at her residency at Minneapolis’ Travail. Fabie, chef de cuisine at Ramen Shop in Oakland, California, gets ready for a night of service. And Diaz, a butcher from Seattle, breaks down a pig at The Ginger Pig in London. Although these chefs have completely different stories, training and career paths, their shared experience sends a clear message to women entering the culinary workforce: Play by your own rules, even when the game is stacked against you.

Butcher Etana Diaz

Of course, the chefs in A Woman’s Place now face an entirely new challenge in their careers: Covid-19. In light of the global pandemic that has all but shuttered the restaurant industry, each chef has had to adapt to meet the changing conditions. Tomlinson recently signed a property lease for her restaurant, Myriel, and is adapting the concept in response to the pandemic. She began her own virtual cooking show during lockdown which she continues today. Fabie and her team have developed a COVID friendly take-out menu and delivery service as the Ramen Shop continues to await safe reopening for dine-in. She and her fiancé are planning a small wedding for the fall. Diaz moved back home to the states once the travel ban was lifted. She’s now reunited with her family and working as a butcher at a whole animal butcher shop in Seattle. She spends her downtime learning how to break down beef. But after viewing A Woman’s Place, it’s evident that these chefs’ histories have prepared them to face the uncertainties ahead with grace and grit.

Meet these chefs in the videos above, and watch the full film, A Woman’s Place, now streaming on Hulu.

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