In Celebration of WOmen’s history Month
Aguiler, Ana and Jessica Tishue. “Women’s History Month”. 2021.
Welcome Back To The Women’s Pages!
In the fifties and sixties, the few pages of the newspaper that contained the information about food and recipes were called “the women’s pages.” As newsrooms were deemed “inappropriate” for women to be in, with too much swearing and too much cigarette smoke, women ran these pages from a different floor sometimes and were left to their own devices. Under the impression that these pages were about food, men ignored them, after all the kitchen wasn’t theirs to be in, as they thought. But this disinterest in their world and these women’s pages gave the women agency to use these supposed food pages according to their devices. Mostly the pages stuck to recipes and discussions of probably the best way to incorporate meat into jello – I don’t know it was the fifties, but sometimes, the conversation expanded into political territory. They used the guise of food, something which the outside male-dominated sphere deemed their space, to discuss the world more fully. Now women are engaged in all aspects of society- still unequally, still paid less, still treated unfairly- but we haven’t stopped using food as a way to express our voices – to take up space and speak our minds. (1)
So welcome back to the women’s pages in celebration of Women’s history month, where we’ll once again find inspiration through the lens of food, explore diverse and unique food space – one more inclusive and exciting than ever, run by some amazing women foodies, and learn from and support each other in the process.
Changing the Meaning of A Women’s Place in the Kitchen
Traditionally, being the nurturers of the family forces women to take on caring for a family entirely on their shoulders. Times are changing and these ideas don’t prevail as strongly as they once did, but that doesn’t mean that they are entirely gone. There is still work to be done concerning women striving for a sense of belonging, power, and equality. The power dynamics between genders places cis men at the top of the food chain – most unwilling to budge in sharing possession of power. Just as women participate and rise in ranks in the public sphere, men need to share the traditionally feminine roles of caretaking and nurturing and be unafraid to tap into their own sense of empathy, compassion, and love.
Women have come a long way from simply preparing meals for their families – so many women are amazing chefs, incredible food bloggers, food writers, food entrepreneurs, we fit into every aspect of the food space.
And despite the kitchen being their conventional place, women foodies today are revolutionizing what it means to be in the kitchen – finding voice and purpose in their own right.
I had the opportunity to get to know a bunch of women foodies and hear about what it means to be a woman in the food space. We have so much to learn from each other.
Food As A Medium For Growth And Acceptance
Ali Bonar is CEO and co-founder of Kween Foods, which sells the first-ever granola butter. Her product, free from the top 14 most common allergens, represents her commitment to inclusivity and good food as fuel for all. She speaks with the utmost authenticity on her social media about body image, her experience with an eating disorder, and how she’s now living her best life.
Many women develop unhealthy relationships with food, and my own experience with that has taught me that it gets in the way of absolutely everything. Societal expectations of our bodies work to keep us quiet, small, and powerless.
How do women’s unhealthy relationships with food get in the way of living our best lives?
When I was obsessed with food, it took up so much headspace and distracted me from the things that were really important in life.
How can we use food to find our voices and feel comfortable with taking us space?
Everyone’s journey is different, but for me, food became a beautiful medium that encouraged me to get back into the kitchen. I used food as my canvas and started to get my hands dirty & play in the kitchen again. I found the joy back in eating.
Mindfulness and Empowerment
Psychologist, Dr. Kelly Vincent, believes that being present is the best tool for personal empowerment and helping other women find their voice and place.
Grounding ourselves in the here and now and fully absorbing the moment we are in allows us to be fully aware of ourselves and those around us!”
– Dr. Kelly Vincent
Finding Mentorship and Balance
Seyka Mejeur is co-founder (with her husband) of AdAstra, a talent acquisition company for elite aerospace organizations, a career coach, and a vegan lifestyle and travel blogger. Along with all of this, she is getting ready to be a first-time mom and documenting her pregnancy and showing off her unbelievable headstands at eight months pregnant. Driven by her own important experiences with mentors, she aims to be a mentor for young women in every aspect of her life, using her experiences to guide others through theirs. Seyka relies on her erasable gel pens, gorgeous planner, and five guiding values to set her up for daily success.
What significant female mentors have you had in your life? How have they shaped you into the woman you are today?
I grew up with a single mother in a high-power and demanding career. Being driven, even as a child, to grow and develop my business skills, I gained a lot from witnessing my mother work hard, be organized, juggle difficult conversations, and move in the business world.
My aunt is a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled her kids, ran her household, and organized her family. My grandmother was also a homemaker who cooked epic meals, taught the family etiquette, and showed me how to do many household chores with love and dedication. I saw a lot of value in both forms of life from a young age, and I had a vision that I wanted it all – a career and a rich home life.
Outside of family, I have had the pleasure of finding incredible mentors throughout my life and I attribute all of my successes to those strong relationships. Most of my mentors probably don’t know that they are my mentors. My mentors are people I’ve met throughout my life who I am impressed with and want to emulate some part of what they exhibit. I pursue conversations with them, I invest a lot of energy into making our relationship valuable to them and not a drain on their time, and I seek out ways to replicate the parts of their lives that are working well.
How do you hope to empower women within each of the fields you are involved in?
Because my mentors have been so important to me and such a loved part of my life, I strive to be a mentor to women who are looking for growth. I love sharing my time, energy, knowledge, and any value that I can with them. I build opportunities around me to pull people in who are newer to their career or some area of life that I have significant experience in.
In my career in the corporate world, I have consistently created internship programs where I can work closely with a newbie in the field to coach and grow them.
I’ve created a blog, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms that outline how I do most things in life; veganism, cooking, marriage, business, and more. I hope to use these platforms to connect with people who are interested in these topics and share the research that I’ve done to make their lives easier.
I’ve also created a partnership program through my blog and YouTube which allows new writers, vegans, video editors, and other creatives to use my platforms to get visibility, practice, and exposure to the industry. This is a particularly fun area because I get to work closely with some spectacular creators and share what I’ve built with them! Plus we get to grow the vegan community through our collaborations!
As a career coach, my work is to focus on peoples’ strengths and what inspires them. I often first have to break people out of the box that they are in and get them to open their minds to what really excites them. Once we zone in on what is energizing and fulfilling, we then work on reframing their story so they can share their strengths in a way that empowers them for the position they are driven for.
General tips for being absolutely amazing and killing it in your career?
I also have a set of 5 values that guide my life. I have chosen my main 5 priorities and values, and I run tough decisions through those values to ensure I stay on course. It is really hard to limit your values down to 5, but doing the work to focus on your North Star allows you to stay on course when life throws you curveballs – and life will throw you curveballs.
Thoughts on raising a son in a society with gender inequality and the power dynamics that come with that?
This is a huge, important topic that my husband and I are just starting to dig in to. In our home, we do a pretty good job of showing gender equality in our own behaviors, but in a very short amount of time, our son will be out in the world and have the opportunity to impact it in many positive or negative ways.
In yoga we call your point of focus your “drishti”. Your gaze on a focus point allows you to find balance where you are. Similarly, off the mat, knowing where you’re heading and what values are important to you will help you guide your ship in the right direction. You may get off course, but if you know what your goal is, you will be able to get back on course toward your goals! You may find as you start to experience more of life that the goal that you had doesn’t fit anymore, and you can change course toward a new goal.”
When I was in middle school I wanted to be a chef. I spoke to some chefs that I could find at cool restaurants and asked them what they liked and didn’t like about their careers. They told me that it was great work, but if you’re really good you will end up working evenings and weekends, which makes it hard to spend time with your family. That took being a chef off the table for me as a career, but I kept it on the side as a hobby and found different ways to exercise that love.
Connecting to Generations of Women Through Baking
Jocelyn Delk Adams, blogger, author, and founder of Grandbaby Cakes, was inspired by her grandmother’s recipes to start baking.
How do you feel baking gives you a voice?
Sharing my recipes has built a community in ways I never could have imagined. It also provides an ear because so many of my recipes were inspired by ancestors of the past. I feel connected to them and also can even feel my grandmother’s presence still with me in the kitchen.
How do you feel you express yourself through your food?
I feel that I am able to share so many facets of my personality through my recipes. My fun and creative side really gets highlighted because I adore mixing and matching flavors and desserts to create something new and interesting. It also gives me an opportunity to think outside the box and challenge myself.
Tell me about the female mentors that shaped you into who you are today.
Those would definitely be the women in my family. There is no one I look to more for advice in life and career than them. They understand what I do in such a unique way and support in more ways than one.
What does it mean to share baking with different generations of women in your family?
It means we have something that will carry us through more generations which I can’t wait to pass to my daughter. It is a gift that I share with others. Our closeness and bond is so tight because of the moments we have shared in the kitchen.
What is your favorite thing to make for people you care about?
Definitely my peach cobbler which is my absolute favorite dessert. My grandmother and mother made it and now I do as well.
What do you love about inspiring others to bake?
I love that my brand isn’t about just inspiring those who already bake. I love creating approachable recipes that motivate even the shyest new bakers to roll up their sleeves and head into the kitchen. The recipes I create become a part of people’s lives in an intimate and real way, and that is what makes me the most excited about what I do.
How Dessert Connects Us
Kisha Moore, owner of Hummingbird Macarons, finds that baking gives her a voice by allowing her to bring joy to her customers’ stories. Combining unique flavors and designs provides her with personal artistic release. She has found mentorship indirectly, finding a strength and resilience in women like Oprah and Maya Angelou that she finds profound and exemplary.
Seeing the joy her desserts bring to so many people has made her believe that dessert is a human need, and I completely agree. We need it to celebrate and we need to celebrate to live fully.
I believe food or dessert in my case unites us because it is a common need of man. We need food to survive, and we need dessert to celebrate! Stories are shared over food, friendships are bonded over food, love is ignited over food, One of the most profound stories about our dessert is from a woman who was going through in vitro therapy, and after each session her husband would bring her a box of our Macarons, it’s life!
– Kisha Moore
Working in an Empowering Environment: Perspectives From the Cook & Culture Team
The team at Cook and Culture is predominantly women. Having this sort of workplace dynamic means something different to each of us. Check out what being in this type of workspace means to some of the incredible ladies of Cook and Culture.
It’s pretty amazing to see so many women from all around the world come together and create this beautiful vision and make it a reality. The one thing I have been most moved by is how much I feel heard on this team. It reminds me of how liberating it feels to be in a room full (or a zoom full) of so many incredible women. Women rock.
– Emi Zerr (graphic designer and illustrator)
Interning at Cook and Culture is the first job I have ever had, so when I joined I was very unsure of what to expect. A lot of the other interns were more experienced than me, and I felt like I was going to have some trouble fitting in. But all my troubles vanished when I got to meet our incredible team. Seeing so many women with different backgrounds and cultures all collaborating together made me instantly feel like I was part of a community where I could feel free to express myself and be comfortable. Prior to Cook and Culture, any tech-related camp or program I had gone to had always been predominantly male, and it was so refreshing to see women taking the lead and coming together to make an impact in society. It’s been such an amazing experience to be able to meet and work with some of the best role models and mentors I could have ever asked for. I’ve learned so much, not only about web development but also about what it means to work in a team where I could have my own unique voice but also be supported by a talented group of women. Working on a predominantly-female team has truly inspired me to reach above and beyond and strive for a future where all women can feel empowered and confident to make a change in our world.
– Aditi Kashi (Web Development)
I feel very supported in my career at Cook and Culture. It’s wonderful to work a space where women are supported and encouraged to grow and expand upon their skills. Having a female CEO and founder sets Cook and Culture apart because of the support, resources, and community that are provided for everyone at the company. The team is predominantly female, but the men on the team are just as supported as the women. I really love working in a space that champions equality and recognizes that women have been systematically underprivileged in the professional space for a long time. It’s refreshing to work in a space where women work together and support one another, rather than competing against one another.” – Cambria Sinclair (Blogger/Creative Director)
I come from a corporate world where I worked with teams mostly dominated by men. It is truly inspiring to see the expertise and talent our female-dominated team brings. “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back”! – This is how I would describe our team here at Cook & Culture, inspiring and motivating one another to excel and give their best.
– Deepa Muthunoori (Development/Fundraising)
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