Pam Abell, chef of Steamed Organic Vegetarian Cuisine, said that sharing food with the community and making people feel genuinely nourished is one of the best things about cooking.
Diners soon will have a chance to try meals at Steamed and other local restaurants with a twist, as Dine LBC week approaches.
Aug. 3-11, Dine LBC will present deals at dozens of Long Beach restaurants. Offers will range from three-course menus starting at $15 per guest, to dinners for two with individual entrees and shared appetizers and desserts, starting at $25 per couple.
In advance of the citywide event, a group of female executive Dine LBC chefs gathered and shared their thoughts about the current culinary scene in Long Beach.
The restaurant industry has been historically hard on women. In 2000, Anthony Bourdain’s publication of Kitchen Confidential heightened public awareness of the harsh atmosphere hidden behind the doors of many restaurants. More recently, allegations of sexual harassment by celebrity chefs like John Besh and Mario Batali increased awareness of inappropriate conduct in kitchens around the world.
The food world is largely dominated by men. According to data published by Eater in 2017, 79% of the head chefs in America are male. Given the prevailing conditions, how do successful female chefs view the kitchens in Long Beach?
Chef Raquel Jubran, chef/partner at PigBurd, acknowledged that the situation can be challenging.
“This industry is tough and women have to work extra hard to get to the top,” Jubran said. “I try to empower women every day.”
Veronica Lopez, chef of Next Door by Agaves, said that when she started her career in Mexico, she was told “you will never be a chef, just a housewife.” Undaunted, Lopez completed her Bachelor's degree in culinary studies and worked as a chef in Mexico and England before being asked to cook in America. She said that she has had both good and bad experiences in her career, but she believes that things are changing and women are getting more opportunities now.
“I’m in a good kitchen and we work together like a family, but every woman has a story to tell,” said Cheyenne McKenna, chef at Ashley’s on 4th.
McKenna added that things might be better in Long Beach, where women help other women; in fact, she noted that Jubran has been a mentor to her. McKenna also said the Long Beach culture is one where restaurants are supportive of one another.
“Restaurants often tell diners about other restaurants in the community,” McKenna said.
Chelsea McNeil, chef at The Ordinarie, agreed. “The Long Beach cooks and chefs all know and support each other, which is great.”
Shared respect for others’ culinary abilities is one reason these chefs appreciate the Dine LBC program, they said.
“Dine LBC is a good way for people in the community to learn about businesses in the area and try places they haven’t been to before,” McNeil said.
To learn more about the chefs, sites, and menus in this year’s Dine LBC program, go to https://menuslbc.com/.