About Gaby Cooley

I am a Junior at PSU studying Graphic Design.

Women Chefs in Hollywood

Imagine yourself getting ready to watch a movie. You grab your butter filled popcorn, your favorite soda, and the best seat in the house. The lights start to dim and the introduction starts. You are set for the next two hours of entertainment and you’re loving every minute of it. What if I were to tell you that those two hours are influencing your thoughts about how we view the world? Whether we like it or not, the media is constantly influencing us. It can be as small as a Facebook post to as big as a billboard. To be more specific, media enjoys feeding us thoughts on how we perceive women, especially in a restaurant workforce environment. Women chefs portrayed in the movie industry are viewed as over emotional, not respected and constantly having to work twice as harder than men.


No Reservations


No Reservations, Warner Brothers, 27 July 2007 (http://www.worstpreviews.com/images/noreservations.jpg)

The first Artifact that I dived into was a movie called “No Reservations” (Story by Carol Fuchs and Sandra. Directed by Scott Hicks). This is a romance mixed with a little drama in the kitchen and in Kate’s (the Chef) personal life. Kate is all about the kitchen and never tends to go outside of her realm. It was until Kate’s sister dies and she has to take Sarah (her niece) in her custody. While Kate takes leave a man takes over and works beside her through the whole movie, this is where the drama begins.


Kate tends to constantly be uptight and is looked at as overemotional. Kate definitely struggles with taking care of her niece while trying to continue with her career, which makes it feel like women taking care of a child isn’t easy. Her coworkers are constantly trying to tell her to quit, pushing her towards the stay at home mother stereotype.


There is a moment in this movie where a customer complains about a dish and asks to see the chef. He continues to complain to her and starts to call her pet names such as “honey” and “sweetie”. Kate is obviously receiving no respect at this moment. Kate has a very short temper and really doesn’t put up with anyone who doesn’t give her respect. When she’s in the kitchen you can feel a sense of tension that knows one wants to make her explode. In a professional environment, there is that intimidation and tension present, however, the intensity shown in this movie feels a little over exaggerated. As a viewer, it makes me feel like women can’t be taken seriously because they are being portrayed as too sensitive. Is this characteristic okay to pass on to our community? Absolutely not.




Julia & Julie


Julia & Julie, Columbia Pictures, 7 Aug. 2009.(https://static01.nyt.com/images/2009/08/07/arts/07julie600.jpg)

Julia & Julie (Story Julia Child, Julie Powell, Alex Prudhomme. Directed by Nora Ephron) is one of my favorite artifacts that I looked into. The movie is about how Julie Powell embarks on a project to prepare 524 recopies Julia Child’s cookbook. It is a mix with the true story of Julia Child and her journey to success. Julia is played by Meryl Streep and Julie is played by Amy Adams. This movie is about never giving up on what you want in life and how it is never too late to change your dreams. Julia’s story is quite amazing and she was never afraid of failure.


One important moment in this film is when Julia is taking her first cooking lesson. Her first class was with two other women and the teacher was teaching them how to boil an egg. Julia goes back to the school counselor and asks for a class that’s more advanced. The advisor then proceeds to tell her that she is not an advanced cook. The counselor gives her a suggestion for a different class that is described as a professional class. However, the counselor tells Julia that she will never be a professional cook because she is a woman and the class is filled with successful men. This does not stop Julia from showing how wrong the counselor was. The first class she attended men looked at her with disgust and impatience. When Julia arrives home she then tells her husband that the men in her class kept looking at her like she was a hopeless housewife trying to kill the hours in the day. However, after much practice, Julia ends up exceeding in her class. But as if that wasn’t enough she has to be better than the men rather than just as good.


This movie has a great motivation that women can do anything if they are passionate about it. Unlike most movies, this movie focusses on the hard work of success. Even Scott from the New York Times stated, “Most strikingly, this is a Hollywood movie about women that is not about the desperate pursuit of men.” (Scott, New York Times) However, the fact that Julia had to earn her respect made my stomach churn. I was happy and excited when Julia finally gained her respect but made me question why she had to work twice as hard to earn it in the first place. I’m sure if it were a man in her position he would have to work hard, but just not twice as hard like Julia had to.

However, some people might think, “Aren’t all chefs supposed to prove that they are worthy to take over such a big task like running a whole kitchen?” Not necessarily. People who are hired as chefs are already looked at as worthy. Unless you completely burn the kitchen down, almost all of your associates will respect you. The Secret Code article explains it this way, “You show respect for the food, for the Chef, and for how we want things done at THIS restaurant…” (The Kitchen Code: Ethos of the Professional Kitchen). The article goes on to explain that no matter the circumstance, you respect your chef, male or female.




Chocolat, Miramax, 19 Jan. 2001. (https://static01.nyt.com/images/2009/08/07/arts/07julie600.jpg)

 The year is 1960 and a woman and her young child move into a small town in France. This town is very traditional and will not accept any change. However, Juliette (the women) and her young daughter slowly start to change the town and their beliefs about tradition. This movie was based on a book written by Joanne Harris.


This movie was about how adding a new person to a little town can change things for the better. Like any other movie, drama and romance were infused in some way or another. What is funny was there was really very little romance in the mix with the main character. But I can see how other people view it as just a romance movie. I don’t feel that much different than Juliette does. And I’m sure a lot of other women cooks can agree with me. Juliette was really shamed upon for being a woman who cooked. Then she had to prove herself. How did she do this? By creating the best chocolate shop in the town.


The fact that she had to prove herself to this town was very upsetting. But she’s new, right? So she had to prove herself. However, shouldn’t one be welcoming to a newcomer?  There was a moment in the movie where she was being called a bad example by the Mayor which didn’t make sense. The Mayor really does not like Juliette and wants to get her out of the town, but she really is doing absolutely nothing wrong. He goes as far to say that everyone in the town should stay away because she is a horrible example. This woman is a single mom making a living and succeeding at it. How exactly is she a bad example? If they want to talk about bad examples they should have gone to the café two doors down where a man who is constantly drunk runs it. I don’t hear them saying he is a bad example. I also found it very upsetting that it took the Mayor trying the chocolate at the end of the movie to make him realize he was in the wrong. I don’t think he needed to try the chocolate in the first place to realize he was wrong.




It’s the end of the movie now and you’re ready to pack your things and go. You sit there for just a moment longer and think about how those movies were portraying women chefs as over emotional, not respected and how they were working a lot harder than men. You pass on what you learned to your friends and they pass that to others. Hopefully, you are better than the regular consumer who is easily influenced by the media. Lastly, you realize the fog is lifted from your vision and you can see how Hollywood views women chefs.


Learning Moments

This was a very awesome class that I always looked forward to each week. There were a lot of great learning tools each week and there was never a dull moment. One lesson that I found particularly interesting was week 7’s topic about borrowing and stealing other people’s work. I think this is something that not only myself but everyone should learn and benefit from. It also helped me be extra careful with my paper and quoting others.

One other awesome tool that I learned was the history of media literacy. It really made me realize how people need to learn about what is real and what is fake. It made me also realize how important it is to teach these things at a young age. It’s not something that I learned but I wish I had learned! But, I was very excited that this class provided the opportunity to learn more about it. Overall, I really enjoyed this class and its quality education.


Works Cited

 Chocolat. Dir. Lasse Hallström. Perf. Carrie-Anne Moss and Johnny Depp. Chocolat. Miramax, 19 Jan. 2001. Web. 12 Nov. 2017.


Decker, By Fred. “Male Vs. Female Chefs.” – Woman. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.


Julie & Julia. Dir. Nora Ephron. Perf. Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Julie & Julia. Columbia Pictures, 7 Aug. 2009. Web. 12 Nov. 2017.


No Reservations. Dir. Scott Hicks. Perf. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. No Reservations. Warner Brothers, 27 July 2007. Web. 12 Nov. 2017.


Scott, A. O. “Two for the Stove.” New York Times. NYT, 6 Aug. 2009. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.


Seitz, Matt Zoller. “If You Can’t Stand the Analysis of Work and Parenthood, Get Out of the Kitchen.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 July 2007. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.

“The Kitchen Code: Ethos of the Professional Kitchen – Chefs Resources.” Chefs Resources. Culinary Knowledge for Professional Chefs & Culinarians, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.