Ladies in Charge

Paola Bogotto Fasolato - maitre d’ of Spinechile Resort

Paola Bogotto Fasolato – maitre d’ of Spinechile Resort

MILAN, Italy — The catering industry is a bit of a paradox, a male-dominated business where very few women emerge to the top. The reasons for this (very low) glass ceiling are similar to those in other industries.

Paola Bogotto Fasolato - maitre d’ of Spinechile Resort

Paola Bogotto Fasolato – maitre d’ of Spinechile Resort

Paola Bogotto Fasolato, Maitre d’ of Spinechile Resort, a restaurant that happens to be my personal culinary favourite for 2013 destined, for sure, to great glories and many stars, comments, “More than in any other field, women have a difficult time in the kitchen, surrounded by an all-male brigade. The antisocial hours are in full conflict with any family obligation you might have.” But every now and then, someone inspiring comes along, some influential ladies that in a few years change dramatically what we eat, the way we eat, and how we eat it.

Caterina De Medici and her role in modern cuisine is half-legend and half-truth, but no doubt central to it. Married to the soon-to-be-king of France, Henry of Orleans, she brought from her native Florence her entire entourage of domestic helpers – and a whole new sets of habits. She is credited with the introduction of proper table manners, the use of forks, the very concept of desserts, including sherbets and ice creams, and the first real formalisation of a menu, with the division of courses and the separation of sweet and savoury. So, yes, she basically taught the French what to eat – something that should put the rivalry between France and Italy to rest, once and for all.

We move forward several centuries, to the 1960s, when one determined American lady, fresh from several years in Europe first as an intelligence officer and then as an amateur chef brought to the Americans what is now a culinary classic: Julia Child and her book: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book was an instant success, soon followed by a cooking show, turning Julia into one of the most famous hosts of cooking shows.

The popularity of cooking shows never waned, becoming everyone’s favourite obsession, especially in the last decade. Criticised by some but loved by their viewers, recent TV shows combine a mix of no-fuss, no non-sense recipes with ebullient hosts. And the one and only lady to rule above all is Nigella Lawson, as she managed to convince millions that cooking is simple, fun and undeniably sexy.

Paola Bogotto Fasolato - maitre d’ of Spinechile Resort

Paola Bogotto Fasolato – maitre d’ of Spinechile Resort

Moving away from glitzy studios and back to the real restaurant scene, we ask ourselves: Where have all the ladies gone? An area that has seen a surge of female talent and professionalism has been the front of the house. Again, in Paola Bogotto Fasolato’s words:

A lady Maitre d’ can initially be a bit of a surprise, but guests are always impressed by her persona and her professionalism – being both firm and accommodating. Women can be very determined in getting the job done, sometimes causing frictions with male subordinates. You need to be extra strong in situations like this.

And from my past years’ experience, I feel exactly the same. Women are obviously smarter than men, they should not be afraid of ruling the restaurant scene too!

Courtesy and Photography by: Paola Bogotto Fasolato | Website: www.spinechileresort.com 
Dino Pozzato About the author

Having a very reputable but conversation killing day job, he has spent the last ten years scouting for and reviewing restaurants, food and recipes. A watch and car collector, he enjoys the finer things in life and shares his tastes with us.

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