Pride is more than a month. It can be a fight to be yourself, in your skin, in your identity, every day. We see that at Food Service Direct. In many careers, it can feel like a secret you have to keep, in order to succeed. We don't think it should be that way. In fact, we think it's RIDICULOUS that who you are could ever be something that you couldn't show in your work life. We wanted to take a moment, not to sell you rainbow stuff, but instead, to show you open LGBTQ members in foodservice, and to plainly state, we support them, we support YOU.
Take a look at a just a FEW humans, some famous, some less, but ALL successful, in foodservice.
1. Ted Allen
We're starting off with Ted Allen. You know the face. He is an actor, a cookbook author, and a member of tv series 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' (winner of an Emmy Award, 2004). He's also a host of Food Network's television cooking show 'Chopped', which received two James Beard Awards.
2. Deborah VanTrece
Owner of Twisted Soul in Atlanta, Deborah VanTrece is something of living legend. She worked for American Airlines as a flight attendant, and well, she is now serving something way better than an in-flight meal. She says she entered the culinary space like this:
"I came into the industry with rose-colored glasses on. When it finally hit me, I said, "Okay, I'm going to do what we always have to do, which is work three times harder." - Deborah VanTrece for Food and Wine
It has paid off ten-fold just to witness her career.
3. Dominique Crenn
Next up is Dominique, a French Chef who moved to the United States to pursue a culinary career. She is the only female Chef in the U.S. to earn 3 Michelin Stars. We had to pick our jaws up, too. No shame. Not one, but THREE? She was also awarded the Best female Chef in 2016 by world’s 50 Best Restaurant awards and the James Beard Foundation Award of Best Chef: West.
4. Jody Williams
Photo: Galdones Photography
Jody Williams is a restaurant owner and chef at Buvette, New York and Paris. She's been a judge on 'Chopped'. What's even cooler? She is known in the industry for not just her amazing food skills and expertise, but also for her perfect partnership in romance and food with Rita Sodi (pictured above to the left). The story goes that they fell in love and then created multiple successful food businesses together. This is couple goals meets career goals.
5. Andy Baraghani
It's isn't just chefs in the foodservice industry. It's also, Senior Food Editor at Bon Appetit magazine, who has worked in lots of restaurants, Andy Baraghani. He said:
"By the time I finished high school, I had already worked in three restaurants, including Chez Panisse. At the time there was a sous-chef at the café upstairs who was gay: He was calm and quiet and strong, and he was an exceptional cook. There was no tolerance for dismissive or negative behavior toward anyone for their gender, sexuality, or race. I remember a male line cook being fired after saying to a woman who was interning, “Just sit over there and look pretty.” Chez Panisse showed me that a kitchen was a place where I could belong." -Bon Appetit Magazine
6. Niki Nakayama
Niki Nakayama is a Japanese chef and owner of n/Naka restaurant in Los Angeles, California. One of the world's only female kaiseki chefs (Kaiseki chef refers to a chef who prepares a procession of courses served in a Budhist ritual in a multicourse meal that emphasizes balance, color, and seasonality). Her restaurant has been awarded not one, but two, Michelin stars.
7. Mark Gaier
Second from the right, co-founder and Chef of Restaurants MC Perkins Cove and several other restaurants, and former restaurant Arrows (James Beard Award, 2010), Mark Gaier, is a beyond a chef at this point. Both Mark and his partner,Clark Frasier, have competed on television show Top Chef Masters. We just want to be in this back-of-house photo, because, look at them! They're a dream team.
8. David Burtka
A former Broadway and television actor in various shows (including 'The West Wing', 'The Opposite of Sex'), and now a chef in Los Angeles at Gourmet, M.D. David hosts the show 'Celebrity Cooking' on television's The Cooking Channel. We don't want to make it about Neil, but we can't neglect to mention, David is married to Neil Patrick Harris, who is not in foodservice, but who we love nonetheless.
9. Mitchell Anderson
The Doogie Howser theme doesn't stop there. Allow us to introduce (or remind you of) television and film actor from 'Party of Five' (1994-2000) and 'Doogie Howser M.D.' Mitchell Anderson, who is currently the Chef/Owner of MetroFresh restaurant, Atlanta. His social media presence isn't at a Kim Kardashian level, but we assure you, he can cook, and he certainly can run a restaurant.
10. Cat Cora
Famous and amazingly sharp in a chef jacket (don't you agree?!) is Cat Cora, who you may know as an 'Iron Chef America' and 'Around the World in 80 Plates' host. She's also Executive Chef for 'Bon Appetit' magazine (we're not jealous, we're NOT jealous). Cat was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame, and she operates a chain of 10 restaurants and more than 500 pop-ups with her wife and business partner Nicole Ehrlich. Couple goals.
11. Gee Smalls
Author of 'Black Enough, Man Enough', Gee Smalls is a restauranteur at Virgils Gullah Kitchen and Eat at Breakfast Boys. It goes like that in foodservice. You can be an author and a chef. An activist and a restaurant owner. A human, a man, and a part of the LGBTQ community. Gee Smalls? Well, he's the rare human, that is all of the above.
At Food Service Direct, we strive to reiterate that we believe EVERYONE can have a place in the foodservice industry. While we are not selling you rainbows during Pride (the real rainbows are free, by the way), we want you to know, we support ALL humans both in this industry and outside of it. Food is better with diversity - and so are people and communties.