The Goddesses of Food‘s director Verane Frediani asks the question of why there aren’t great female chefs, and it’s the same answer that female writers have when they answer the question about female artists of filmmakers – it’s that they exist but the predominantly male worlds that write about any industry, specifically that of the gastronomic industry, don’t take their jobs seriously enough to see the gender parity that’s obvious to people who they consider as laymen or, in this case, lay women.
Frediani talks to several of the female chefs who she believe deserve the same recognition that men do. Two of those are French chef Anne-Sophie Pic and Argentine chef Soledad Nardelli. It’s strange to say this about subjects of a food doc but Ferdiani frames these women as complex humans. During one scene, Nardelli holds a glass of wine, anticipating a tough day at work. But a minute or so later she glows while gushing about the personality behind Pic’s plates. Her sentences about those plates are beyond my skills as a writer.
I’ve written a review in a film about mostly women with a female director. There, I write that it’s fascinating when they turn their camera towards men. Now I feel like I wrote that too soon. And that’s because of the way Goddesses frames men. One of the most indefensible examples of that gender is Eric Allouche. Allouche is the French editor of Sommeliers International who makes sexual innuendoes. His targets are the women who are trying to get into the industry he’s gatekeeping.
Female readers only really need to half worry about me since I also believe that men are trash. And yes, there are complex dynamics in any room when a trashy man is talking. Sometimes we politely steer the conversation and at others we let them talk. It seems like Goddesses‘ method involves the latter, embarrassing themselves publicly as opposed to making them learn, which is why this film theoretically exists. But thankfully, this is less of a shady reality show. It’s a documentary which depicts women of all colours gloriously.
These women learn traditional French cuisine while also contributing their own historical and cultural influences to their menus. The film features Christina Comerford, a Filipina American who worked as the chef in the White House during Obama’s terms.A Congolese woman, Victoire Gouloubi has a lamb pasta recipe where she uses peanut better instead of or maybe with tomatoes. An Angolan woman, Patricia Martins, learns that French chefs have a whole vocabulary for chopping vegetables. And eventually, she tells viewers her own story of emancipation through her cooking. All women should be as free as Martins.
The Goddesses of Food comes to OVID today.