List of influential B.C. chefs and restaurateurs criticized for excluding women

·2 min read
A list of influential B.C. chefs and restaurateurs has completely left out women — a move some call disappointing. (Anton27/Shutterstock - image credit)
A list of influential B.C. chefs and restaurateurs has completely left out women — a move some call disappointing. (Anton27/Shutterstock - image credit)

A group is calling out a recent list by the publication Business in Vancouver honouring leading local chefs and restaurateurs which were exclusively men.

This list of 12 chefs and restaurateurs — all of them male, and 10 of them white — appeared as part the inaugural Business in Vancouver Top 500 list which features the 500 most influential business leaders in British Columbia across dozens of sectors.

Cate Simpson, the co-president of the B.C. chapter of Les Dames D'Escoffier, an international organization aimed at supporting women in the hospitality industry, called the list "incredibly disappointing."

"It really felt like we were kind of going back in time," Simpson said.

Simpson said the list could have included trail-blazers like chef and cookbook author Karen Barnaby, the late chef Tina Fineza who brought the food truck scene to Vancouver, and Kym Nguyen, the chef at Pidgin, who starred on Top Chef Canada.

Simpson said the inclusion of Vikram Vij on the list without his business partner Meeru Dhalwala is another disappointing omission.

"She is a mentor to so many great female chefs in the city, so the fact that he's on the list and she's not is, you know, it's just not reflective of what truly goes on in the restaurant business," Simpson said.

"I don't think it's a particularly well-researched list and it really does a great disservice to female chefs."

'We did our research'

Kirk LaPointe, the editor in chief for Business in Vancouver, says while Simpson makes some fair points, this was the inaugural list and there's bound to be controversy over who was — and was not — included.

"We did our research on this," LaPointe said. "The people that were selected … are largely the more prominent people in these industries."

The fact those people happened to be male and white just reflects the establishment of the industry, he said.

"We're the messengers on this one. We didn't create the system that did that," he said.

He noted the wide category — Food and Wine — included prominent women professionals like Karen Flavelle, the CEO of Purdys Chocolatier.

"The nature of the list is who has been in an industry over a long period of time, built it, employed large numbers of people and had large amounts of revenue and had a long-standing influence on industry."

Still, Simpson said lists like these can have a real impact on the industry.

"The women that have been left off this list are women who really deserve to be backed and supported and to have people go into their restaurants [and] investors go into their restaurants ... to grow their restaurants and to grow their brands."

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