Former chef Marco Pierre White has sparked furore in the hospitality industry after he said “women are more emotional in the kitchen” than men and that they’re incapable of carrying heavy pans themselves.
The TV presenter and restaurateur, who has a steakhouse and grill at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi and a new restaurant opening in the capital in September, made the comments in an interview to the Irish Independent this week. "The real positive with men is that men can absorb pressure better, that's the main difference, because they are not as emotional and they don't take things personally," the 57-year-old told the reporter.
“Look at the size of some of the pans you are carrying. Can you imagine you’re a lady in the kitchen and saying: ‘Will you carry that pan for me?’”
The comments have prompted an angry response from industry professionals, with Neil Rankin, the chef and owner of Temper restaurants, describing the comments on Instagram as “nauseating baseless antiquated” and calling White a “rambling dinosaur”.
“How about we just start judging people based on their individual performance and start promoting the much-needed diversity within this dying industry that so desperately needs it,” Rankin added.
White did try to come up with some positives, however. For instance, he also said women have better palates and a more sophisticated sense of smell. “They are more consistent than men, when it comes to cooking, because they respect the house more, they do their jobs.”
But that wasn't enough to appease his critics. Asma Khan, founder of London's Darjeeling Express, was also disappointed by the comments. "It is extremely unhelpful to have a prominent male chef like Marco Pierre White undermining the contribution and role of women in restaurant kitchens," she told Big Hospitality. "Even when he attempts to list the positives, he displays his staggering, almost medieval gender bias. And basically dismisses us as neither innovators or creators."
White, who was once the youngest chef to hold three Michelin stars, is no stranger to controversy. Early in his career he was known to throw out customers whose behaviour he didn't approve of, and just last week he called fellow British chef and TV presenter Jamie Oliver "delusional" for blaming the collapse of his restaurant empire on Brexit. "It's the lamest excuse in the world," he said, adding that he'd previously have a "horrific" experience at Oliver's Gatwick airport restaurant.
Next month, Marco’s New York Italian by Marco Pierre White is opening in the Middle East for the first time at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi.