January 5, 1996
Web posted at: 7 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Janine Sharell
NEW YORK (CNN) -- After years of being told they couldn't take the heat, women are proving the skeptics wrong by becoming professional chefs.
The College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University reports 40 percent of its students are women -- compared to only 10 percent a decade ago.
And the 67-year-old American Culinary Federation has selected its first female president: Kay Corning, who begins her term in 1997.
She wasn't always accepted on equal terms as her male counterparts. "An old-timer looked at me and he says, 'Oh, what are you -- are you a teacher or a registered dietitian?' And I looked at him," Corning said, "and I said, 'Would you look at my hands? I'm a certified executive chef, and I've worked hard for it!'"
Women who have succeeded in the profession are sharing the fruits of their labor.
Carmen Gonzalez of Miami's Sheraton River House Hotel created a foundation called Feeding the Mind to offer scholarships to send battered and abused women to culinary school.
Competition doesn't seem to be a worry. In fact, Les Pescadou owner and chef Sara Daniels welcomes it, inviting other women to join the field.
Thanks to the prodding of her grandmother, Daniels has been cooking up a storm for 20 years. Getting her foot in the kitchen door was even more difficult for her, being a black woman.
"I can't tell you how many times I've heard the expression, 'Boy, you must make mean collard greens,'" Daniels said. "Think about it: You know my mother's from Bermuda; my father's from France -- what do I know about a collard greens?"
Daniels is single and, for now, devotes her days and nights to her trade.
Pam Horowitz did that for years, but as executive chef at a catering company called Between the Bread, her hours are now from 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
"I get to go home and have a 'normal existence' with my husband and my daughter Emily," she said.
Helping her staff have a normal existence is Elka Gilmore, executive chef at New York's Omni Berkshire Hotel.
"I have line cooks, men who are new fathers who have to adjust their schedules accordingly," said Gilmore. "One needs to work nights, the other, day, so he can manage the household."
And what advice do these women have for others who are attracted to the field?
"Go home, rest yourself and just prepare yourself mentally every day," Daniels said.
"Knowledge is king," Horowitz said. "Without that, you can't really have the answers to guide a staff"
"Study, study and study and do it three times better than your male counterparts," said Corning. (68K AIFF sound or 68K WAV sound)
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