How High-End Restaurants Have Failed Black Female Chefs


In response, the company announced that its senior management team had been working with an inclusion expert, Dr. James Pogue, collaborates on anti-bias training. The company has vowed to “keep diversity and inclusion in mind,” a spokeswoman said, and “create safe forums for everyone at USHG to have awkward, challenging conversations about race and bias”. (This reporter’s husband has worked for the restaurant group in the past.)

Ms. Ettarh said such discussions are as important as recruiting more black workers. “I think the white leadership is so concerned about hiring black people, but they have to change the culture,” she said.

Facing the past should be part of the process for restaurants in general, she said. “They are not quoted as being transparent about what they want to do to get better, but they are not transparent about how they have let down all the blacks who have worked for them,” she said. “I generally think that good food doesn’t support its workers well.”

Some women don’t wait for the industry to change.

Catina Smith, the founder of Just Call Me Chef, a biennial national organization for black women in the hospitality industry, has members in 10 cities and hosts in-person events in addition to an online community that connects women from around the world.

Ms. Smith, 34, a line chef in Baltimore who now works there as a private chef and cooking teacher, said she started the group after suffering from the shortage of black cooks in the kitchens she worked in. “My last kitchen job was all white men and nothing felt like it was really for us,” she said.

Ms. Smith plans to hold the group’s first conference in Baltimore next June to unite black women in hospitality. The goal is not to focus on what they have been denied, but rather to celebrate their skills and talents and provide mentoring to young chefs.

“We don’t cry because we can’t get into these rooms, we just say how it is for us,” she said. “We don’t want any special treatment. We just want the opportunity. “