While we dig the work of our female food gurus all year round, given today is International Women’s Day, we thought they deserved an extra special shout out. From chefs to gelato makers, we want to say a collective, ‘you’re amazing’ to each and every one of them.
Today, we’re shining a spotlight on three boss ladies who are making a difference in the Perth food industry to find out their thoughts on the leaps and bounds that have been made.
Prepare to be inspired.
Carly De Bartolo
After spending 10 years as a clinical pharmacist, Carly De Bartolo set her sights on Bologna to learn the art of making gelato. This, combined with her science background and business partner Chez De Bartolo, proved to be a winning formula with Chicho Gelato easily earning its rank as one of the most popular gelaterias in Perth since opening almost four years ago.
De Bartolo believes workplaces operate better when there’s a balance. “I don't think we need to specifically target women into the industry but rather make it an equal playing field,” she says. “Encourage women that have the passion to develop their skills without any obstacles deterring them on the way. For example, make it possible for women to stay in the industry by introducing maternity leave, very accessible in the corporate world but almost nonexistent in hospitality.”
What’s next for the new wave gelato hot spot? “We are about to launch some new merchandise, next week. Coming off the back of a busy festival season, now is the time for us to get our creative hats on and start thinking about new desserts for 2019,” says De Bartolo. Keep your eyes peeled for a brand new Japanese-inspired dessert that’s set to have mouths drooling.
Executive Chef and Co-owner of Young George in East Fremantle, Melissa Palinkas’ love of food began at a young age while helping her mum and German grandmother in the kitchen. Since then, Palinkas has built an impressive career as a chef. After spending some time abroad in London and Dublin, she returned to Perth and headed up the kitchens at Mash Brewing and The Cabin before launching Young George almost five years ago.
“I got a job as a kitchen hand and realised I loved food and cooking so sought out a career path. Unable to support myself on apprentice wages and living out of home, I decided to gain experience working in different kitchens rather than the classroom,” Palinkas says of starting out in the early days.
Palinkas’ food is inventive, original and delicious, but it’s her focus on sustainability that sets her apart. Her cooking follows a nose to tail and root to shoot approach to minimise waste, and she’s always looking at areas where she can reduce the carbon footprint of Young George, using reusable glass jars and preserving just about anything that’s left over.
“I would love to see more women in the industry,” she says “I am competing as a female in this male-dominated industry every day, but my focus is about doing me and my thing always, and not worrying about what gender I am up against. I think if there was little more equality shown, more women would want to become chefs.”
Shadow Wine Bar
Shadow is no stranger to female chefs, and their latest hire Monika Cook brings 15 years of experience to the kitchen. Cook herself has worked with many strong, female chefs who have encouraged her to question the expectations and culture of the industry, and now she’s bringing awareness and equality to her own kitchen.
Cook believes it’s about supporting each other. “It really is all about changing the culture and creating a more approachable environment in the kitchen,” she says. “At Shadow, we work really hard to build a calm and respectful environment that everybody can feel safe working in. There’s no yelling or screaming, it’s all about the team helping each other and working together.”
According to Cook, the industry is still heavily dominated by men, but it’s balanced out over the last few years. “At Shadow, we are currently an all-female chef kitchen, that’s pretty rare in this industry and definitely something to be celebrated!”
Looking for a good dose of female empowerment? Here are the essential movies to watch on International Women’s Day.
Image credit: Chicho Gelato