Maggie Beer
Maggie Beer
Maggie Beer

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Tasting Australia's leading ladies

13 April - by Katherine Haycock

By Katherine Haycock, Le Cordon Bleu Food & Wine Writing Course


THE Tasting Australia program has some stand out female chefs. 

Maggie Beer leads the lineup with Jyoti Bindu, the Salloum sisters and fellow family matriarchs, Mrs Singh and Chef Farida all offering evenings in the Glasshouse Kitchen. 

In an industry dominated by men, these women are significant and Simon Bryant, the Tasting Australia Festival Director, wants to see more of them in the program and in the industry in general.

Finding interesting men and women who represent the festival’s audience is a key focus for Simon and it’s challenging to make sure that women are represented equally in the lineup when still so few make it to the top of this industry. 

As an example, only three women were represented in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2017. However, leading women chefs are in demand at culinary festivals, and program directors often struggle to get their availability, as many events vie for their attention. (Simon continues in his mission to get US chef legend Alice Waters to Tasting Australia, watch this space) .

Let’s not forget the women working behind the scenes, cooking up a storm to satisfy the festival visitors. 

Simon’s Head Chef Sarah Turner is working hard at preparing ingredients for the Glasshouse Kitchen. 

With an impressive array of bruises up her arms and covered in fish blood, she wields her chef’s knife to trim tubs of Barramundi heads and tells me how physically hard it can be working in the industry. 

She’s seen half the women that she’s trained already exit the industry, and she wants to see that change.

Alana Brabin from If You’re Game (one of the food stalls in Town Square) had spent the previous evening breaking down six full deer carcasses from the Deer Farm in Birdwood. 

The haunches join sizzling smoked Barossa ducks and wild caught rabbit on the charcoal grill at her stall. 

Despite the hard work and grease in her hair, Alana enjoys catering for events like these and says it beats being in a kitchen all the time. 

Her all-female team of happy staff are evidence that female chefs mean more female chefs; the multiplier effect in action.

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