When you go back to that original question about what fuels the sociological connections between women and pastry, I think the answer lies here – somewhere amid baking’s being perceived as amateurish and pastry’s being confused with it. I suspect, in our nation, a conflation of these two microcrafts may have triggered the downgrading of the latter specialty to home-style status
That’s Charlotte Druckman with one of my favorite quotes in recent years. I’m tempted to elaborate on this one – as the quote conjures up images of skilled sugar technicians plying their trade at restaurants, dreams of “mom” removing a tray of cookies from the oven, and visions of a boulangere working her starter dough at some Michelin-starred abode. It’s the type of quote I could tweet but, alas, that’s what Tumblr is for. The source, of course, is Druckman’s “Skirt Steak.”
Tonight! An evening of storytelling, lively literary conversation, and bizarre culinary tastes. Join novelist Jonathan Grimwood and special guests Charlotte Druckman, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, and Matt Gross at a celebration of food, obsession, and literature. Dishes prepared especially for the occasion by The Works executive chef Emily Casey and inspired by The Last Banquet will be served (You have been warned.)
About The Last Banquet: Set against the backdrop of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the delectable decadence of Versailles, The Last Banquet is the gripping story of one man’s search for the ultimate taste. A sumptuous and appealing novel about food and flavor, about the Age of Reason, about revolution, hunger, and obsession.
double bookface! all of my reading lately has been non-fiction, and about food. I highly recommend skirtsteak, by charlottedruckman, for anyone identifying as female with an interest in the culinary profession. I’ve also recently finished the omnivore’s dilemma & in defense of food, both by Michaelpollen, which i recommendfor people interested in studying some of the problems with our current food system.
Food Writer Charlotte Druckman on Female Chefs, Must-Try Recipes, and Why You Shouldn't Fear Beef Cheeks
If someone were to audit my bookshelves, they would find roughly the following breakdown: 40 percent fiction, 20 percent food memoirs, 30 percent cookbooks, and 10 percent old Gourmet issues. Suffice to say, I like reading about food. And this holiday season, there’s one book topping my personal gift list: Charlotte Druckman’s Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen. The adorably elfin Druckman is a longtime contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Bon Appetit, among other publications (she’s also a friend of mine), and for her just-published book, she interviewed 73 female chefs from all over the United States. The result is both literary and madcap, with fascinating asides and delightfully irreverent footnotes (who doesn’t love a good footnote?). Read on for Druckman’s dream dinner-party guests, chef recipes to try right now, and the three things everyone should know how to cook.
Where did the idea for Skirt Steak come from?
I wrote a more academic essay for the journal Gastronomica that was focused on how the media—and I include myself there—has either directly or indirectly contributed to our collective social perception of female chefs. Some of the most thoughtful responses were from chefs, and one of them said she wished I had asked the (women) chefs themselves about what they do. That’s where the idea for the book came from—or it was a way to justify talking to some of the country’s greatest culinary talents!
If having a soft spot for food writers is wrong (ahem, see past installments of this feature Q&Aing JJ Goode and the sisters behind The New Potato), then we don’t wanna be right. Case in point: We think you have to meet the über-talented and lovely Charlotte Druckman. She wrote a book on women chefs called Skirt Steak—good name, right?—and her byline pops up all over the writing-about-eating sphere. Get the scoop. —monica derevjanik
Q: What’s your ideal meal? A: Because it’s cold and dreary out, I find myself craving one-dish wonders like lamb tagine and cassoulet. But I’m more inclined to make a bowl of roasted vegetables or a big country frisée salad with lardons, a poached egg, and lots of red wine. And, no matter what, I could finish with a rich, dark, near-bitter chocolate soufflé with whipped cream and coffee or hazelnut or vanilla ice cream.
Q: Which startups do you think are doing really amazing things right now? A: Here goes: Medium, Everlane, and Of a Kind (and I really mean that!). Like everyone else, I’m curious to see what Ezra Klein’s going to create at Vox. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Oyster does and how it takes off. In terms of O.G. startups—you know, the printed kind—Cherry Bombe and Modern Farmer have my support, and I’ve just subscribed to PORTERand to Book Riot’s Quarterly. I’ll never give up on print.
Q: What’s one vacation you’re desperate to take? A: I always want to go back to France—Provence and Paris, especially—and so that’s what I tend to do. But of the places I’ve never been and dream of going to, India is probably at the top of that list.
Q: What do you wear all the time? A: For the day, jeans and a mix of Chance, A.P.C., Everlane, Of a Kind, and Lars Andersson. For night, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Isabel Marant, and Tucker. I also rotate between a few favorite Le Labo scents. Breaking my kneecap in college marked the end of my life in heels, so you’ll always find me in flats and, because I love walking everywhere, sneakers—the cuter, the better.
Q: What do you love about your neighborhood? A: Everyone always talks about the commercialization that has swept through Greenwich Village in the last seven years and the proliferation of faux charming neighborhood spots. But if you take your time and pick one street—I choose 10th Street, because it’s mine—and you follow it all the way from Avenue C to the highway on the west side, you will discover so many secrets and stories that span the city’s history.
Even my investors were like, `Well, you know, if we didn’t know you, we probably wouldn’t have invested in a woman.’ And some of those investors are my family.
Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen continues to speak the truth in Charlotte Druckman’s “Skirt Steak,” which documents the ups and downs of women in the hospitality industry. Raising capital for a new restaurant can be tough for women, especially since investors often come from the male-dominant financial industry.
It’s a pretty exciting collection of chefs actually, with fine choices like Sean Brock of South Carolina and Alex Atala of Brazil. Click through for the full read.
But still. Charlotte Druckman is correct; the major takeaway from Elite Traveler’s column is the lack of women, which mars the list’s credibility. Are Dominique Crenn and April Bloomfield not as important to the future of food as any of these male chefs? I certainly don’t think so.
This isn’t the traditional business model where the top position is the CEO, and if you don’t have the CEO [job], you hit a glass ceiling. But here, the glass ceiling would be owner of the restaurant, which I don’t want, so it’s like you almost have to create your own reality; you have to create your own ceiling in your own world. And yeah, as you move up, the pyramid gets smaller in any business, in any career.
Pastry Chef Emily Luchetti opines on question of a glass ceiling in restaurants. The quote comes from Charlotte Druckman’s “Skirt Steak,” a fine opus about women in the hospitality industry.
There are very few working chefs with children who are women.
Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen drops some TRUTH in Charlotte Druckman’s excellent “Skirt Steak.” I’ve been talking to a bunch of chefs about this same topic, and we’ll talk more about that soon. Briefly: Cohen appears to be quite right.