Without question, one of the major issues we face in modern British Cookery is the myth that has grown over recent years that all chefs must adhere to the now perceived look that has been portrayed by media, film and social media that British chefs should be male, white and (preferably) tattooed? We now have a "look" as to what people think a British chef should look like??
This way of thinking is now ingrained into British cookery and is a cancer that has spread to many of those companies and institutions that have a social responsibility to uphold standards for the future.
But now those very guardians of the faith have become so indoctrinated by this perception that they portray this image as a flag or even some sort of masonic “badge of honour”,they do it without even realising the harm they do and this is the definition of Institutional Sexism.
When a company, employer or culinary institution promotes a vision of a Male Only profession, either through their websites, leaflets, doctrine, media posts or even the very make up of their organisation, then those looking on can only presume that the belief of that organisation,kitchen or company is what it is portraying and that those organisations only ever want to promote male white chefs, as this is their true ( but often unconscious ) intent.
When those responsible ( very often white men) are in charge of the content and spiritual guidance of those establishments and sanction such clear and decisive messages then that organisation, by definition, becomes inherently and institutionally sexist. Although at this point I must make it clear that often these actions are often by way of habit and not always conscious decision making.
When that organisation, promotes without equality, without attention to gender recognition then that organisation is Institutionally sexist and when that organisation organises ,promotes and sets about programs where the dominant sex is male, the organisers are male, the judges and competitors are male and the eventual winner or recipient of the award is male then that organisation can and should be regarded as Institutionally sexist.
When an institution or company fails to set internal targets for female and ethnic inclusion then that too is seen as Institutional, it is cultural within their system, and is therefore systemic.
Institutional Sexism is disease within British cookery. It bears no allegiance to our heritage and bears no resemblance to society. A society that has by and large grown to promote equality and inclusion within every walk of life yet, so many kitchens, companies and Institutions within catering are oblivious to modern thinking.In many ways we are still in the 70's but don't realise it?
Whilst those in charge of such organisations continue to believe that only white men can cook, and that white men must always be in charge of our culinary future then those men need to wake up and see what lies ahead.
This profession cannot and must not be led by those with such archaic ideologies. Such ideologies effect the very make up of our profession and stifle creative talent. The time for change is coming quickly, we cannot simply go on ignoring the immense talent that we have in the UK just because they do not fit the stereotypical chef image.