Michelin Guide in sexism row after praising all-female kitchen

Hannah Furness
The team at Darjeeling Express

As an arbiter of taste, the Michelin Guide is used to causing controversy with its rulings on the finest restaurants in the world.

Today, the industry bible instead became embroiled in a sexism row after an ill-judged tweet about an all-female kitchen was roundly condemned by critics.

A member of staff at Michelin Guide UK used its official social media platform to praise Darjeeling Express, a London restaurant specialising in Indian food run by, it said, "A female kitchen team coping effortlessly with the demand.”

Condemned by followers as “ridiculously patronising”, “clueless” and “jurassic” in outlook, it attempted to clarify the point in a second message which provoked yet more fury.

Michelin Guide UK get into hot water on Twitter

"It's rare to see a completely female kitchen team - and one so utterly calm under so much pressure as the place was packed,” it said. “This is a restaurant with an interesting story."

Criticism came from members of the public including restaurant critic Jay Rayner, who said: “Dear old @michelinGuideUk is startled that an all female kitchen isn’t full of panicking laydees running around tearfully, wailing at the sky.”

Another critic said: “There was no need to mention the sex of the kitchen team. The hole is getting bigger.”

A third joked: “Oh us hysterical women... we're never calm in a crisis! Let alone in a kitchen.”

The Darjeeling Express says it is run by a team of "housewives"

Darjeeling Express was founded by a woman, Asma Khan, and according to its own website runs its kitchen with “an all-women team of housewives”.

After social media users attacked the Michelin Guide, restaurant staff used their own official account to calm the dispute, saying: “Thank you @MichelinGuideUK- we have a wonderful team in the kitchen & we are delighted you came to our restaurant!”

Responding to a comment about a quiet atmosphere, they added: “We have worked together for 5 years and most communication is non verbal-it's an open kitchen. You hear no one calling out. It is calm.”

The "calm" atmosphere in action

The debate follows a long-running issue for restaurants, which have a dearth of female chefs at the highest levels with ten of the 172 Michelin starred restaurant in Britain being run by women.

Prue Leith is among the notable women who have previously spoken out, calling for culture change.

"Women cannot be top chefs, mostly,” she said in 2014. “You look at the top women chefs who are women and they are unmarried and don't have children. The reason is that chaps will not stay at home and look after the children while women work.”

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