The Women’s Culinary Network – A Kinder, Gentler Approach to the Kitchen

chefThere’s an old saying that goes “If women ruled the world, there would be no war.” Now I don’t actually believe this for a second, and despite my dislike of Bush and Cheney, I honestly believe they are the “softening factor” that is keeping Condoleeza Rice from turning the Middle East and North Korea into a literal dead zone. And we can all come up with examples of really scary women who really shouldn’t be running anything coughAnnCoultercough because their world view is just the teensiest bit warped.

But in general, women are likely to be more nurturing and empathetic than aggressive. In the realm of the restaurant industry, particularly the more mainstream businesses, being a woman in a kitchen can be pretty tough. There’s generally a lot of cursing, a lot of testosterone, and in some places, cheese throwing. And that’s when service is at its busiest. Downtime can quickly devolve to an adolescent level, which can be even worse.

A partial solution to the concerns that women in the food industry might have is the Women’s Culinary Network. Created in 1990 by four female chefs who found themselves working together in a small kitchen, the Network aims to create a place where female culinary professionals can get together to share experiences and define a supportive work environment.

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The Pickle Barrel Gets Healthy

pbroseWhen we started this site some six months ago, we determined that our mandate was to cover anything and everything to do with food in Toronto. It’s easy to fall into the foodie trap of focusing on either cutting-edge and high end places, or hole-in-the-wall spots serving “authentic” cuisine from various cultures and completely ignoring a whole cross-section of stuff in the middle – which just happens to be where most people eat.

I was reminded of this recently when I received a press release inviting me to a tasting at The Pickle Barrel. The restaurant, which opened its first location in 1971 serving corn beef sandwiches and coleslaw, had recently undergone a make-over. The décor in most of the locations has been updated to a sleek and modern new look with cosy booths and tiled pillars. More importantly, the menu has been updated from its humble beginnings of deli meat sandwiches to a more cosmopolitan selection. The old favourites are now complimented by a variety of healthy options created by cookbook author and healthy living expert Rose Reisman. There is even a newly added menu of options that all come in at under 500 calories.

Go ahead and scoff, all you food snobs – the stuff is fantastic.

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