Women in the Kitchen, Serenity in the Room by Edgar Vaudeville

Women in the Kitchen, Serenity in the Room by Edgar Vaudeville


Recently, I had the chance to dine at the newly awarded winner of two Michelin Stars, Aquavit. From the charm of the restaurant to its food, my experience there was nothing short of refreshing.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the pilot of the restaurant was Emma Bengtsson, a 33-year-old woman from Sweden. In fact, she is the only chef of her gender to receive the prestigious award of two Michelin Stars.


Chef Emma Bengtsson and Chefs Society Columnist Edgar Vaudeville

What does this mean? Is the restaurant kitchen still a “Man’s” Game?

I have had my share of working in restaurants that have been rewarded Michelin Stars. I had seen how women were treated compared to men of the occupation and the picture was not pretty. Women were given a harder time, being constantly chastised. If something was lacking, it was usually attributed to femininity or otherwise, the lack of “masculinity” and composure in the kitchen.
However, most of the women I’ve seen rushing about the hectic environment carried more professionalism and perfection than most men could hope to ever achieve.

Emma Bengtsson is an example of a strong individual who has traversed the harsh male-dominated environment and made it far beyond what most chefs achieve in a lifetime. I believe that she is only the start of many more women chefs to reach the coveted spotlight.

We all must take note that this “masculinity” in the kitchen is now an outdated concept and should be tossed in the rubbish bin.

The 12 Course Meal was simply impeccable. Each dish was executed in such a way that reminded me of Picasso’s paintings. Each dish carried her own distinct style, executed with perfection. Delicate with subtle touches, she was definite with her cuisine and offered what she excelled in.
This was a fresh breath of air compared to the plethora of attention-seeking chefs that plague the culinary world.

Due to TV shows and other media influences, many chefs go for wild and rambunctious with their dishes just to get noticed. These shows, prior to the belief of many, destroy more aspiring chefs than fostering growth. Along the road to fame, these chefs lose sight of what they are truly great at and become just another clone of the latest trend. Just for 5 minutes in the spotlight, these chefs lose what made their cuisine special.
What we must understand is that those who do survive as distinguished chefs, celebrity or not, all had a distinct and definitive style that they excelled at.
Emma Bengtsson was such a case in which she followed her style and passion, without simply being part of the herd. This is what made her, and she has the Stars to show for it!

The wine list was curated by Kerry, who is currently the main Sommelier at Chefs Club by food and wine. Unlike most famous restaurants, the variety and price of wine ranges greatly. From supporting the local wineries, the restaurant offers very affordable bottles, which leaves for a larger budget to enjoy a full experience of Aquavit’s food.
Most Michelin restaurants believe that an expensive bottles of wine are necessary and shun anything with a low price. This is simply arrogance as a restaurant’s mainstay is the food.
Gastronomy should be affordable to everyone, not only the rich.

Aquavit has opened my eyes to what a restaurant should be. The ideology behind every dish is distinctive and refined to the point of perfection. Without falling prey to the social norms of “masculinity” in the kitchen, Emma Bentsson has created a restaurant, that at its core, is what food should actually be.

Edgar Vaudeville

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