Take Pride – Think Support and Inclusion this Pride Month

Comments by Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum…

At The Chefs’ Forum we take Pride seriously. This is a month in the year when we can celebrate diversity and inclusion no matter what gender or sexual orientation you are.

This is important because to feel marginalised or less that worthy is not a nice place to be in and nobody should have to feel it.

So, we salute all those who are proud of their identity and wish everyone a happy Pride month – especially if the sun keeps shining.

On a more reflective note, however, Pride month is also an opportunity to consider other areas of marginalisation. I’m taking about mental health and other areas such as asylum and immigration.

In our work at The Chefs’ Forum we talk to many chefs and are pleased to be able to help all those who are suffering.

Masterchef: The Professionals winner Alex Webb is currently taking residency at Number One Park Lane Terrace.  He celebrates Pride Month and told us about his experiences and acceptance among his peers:

“I think its easier in the kitchen to be out as gay today in the hospitality industry, than when I first started out as a chef… you would like to think that things are getting easier for everyone.  The professional kitchen is a manly environment, so I have found it difficult at times in the past to be accepted.  Contrastingly, my kitchen is a very inclusive environment, were everyone can feel safe and included – My boyfriend Danny comes into the kitchen all of the time and he’s treated with the same respect as I am by the whole team, and that’s the way it should be.   I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish my fellow industry peers in the LGBTQ community a very happy pride month!”

Jade Shorney, from The Rising Sun, Taunton is is a champion of mental health awareness in kitchens and the wider hospitality industry.

Jade said:

“I make a point of having an all-female brigade.  The most important thing to us is that our staff are happy to come to work.  It is really important to create an environment that they achieve a good work/life balance. In previous workplaces, it’s been an all-male work environment and we’ve been looked at as a weaker sex, unable to handle the pressure of the professional kitchen, but we proved them wrong time and time again and delighted to be running my own brigade made up of five ladies – An all-female team!”

We were also very sad to hear that there are students at our colleges who, although trained as professional chefs in their own country, have to study to become chefs here in the UK as part of their asylum conditions.  They cannot live in their country as it is still illegal to be gay, even in 2022.  The list is pretty extensive and it seems so unfair that people are still being treated in this way.

What we are saying is this:

“Spare a thought for anyone who is marginalised this month and reach out to them to make them feel more included, more welcome, more safe and more valued. That way we can make this industry feel more like a family.”