Belfast Telegraph

Monica Galetti responds to Heston Blumenthal comments about female chefs

The celebrity chef said women are not reaching the same career heights as men because of their biological clocks.

Monica Galetti (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Monica Galetti (Anthony Devlin/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Monica Galetti has said she hopes recent comments about female chefs by Heston Blumenthal have been taken out of context.

The celebrity chef came under fire after he claimed that women are not reaching the same career heights in the industry as men because of their biological clocks and struggle to lift “heavy pots and pans” after childbirth.

However Galetti, who is a judge on MasterChef: The Professionals, said she did think Blumenthal “has a point” because she herself knows how difficult it is to be pregnant while working in a kitchen, adding the real struggle comes when returning to employment after giving birth.

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Heston Blumenthal (Ian West/PA)

She said: “It’s been like that since Adam and Eve; it’s been like that from when the French starting employing chefs to show off their wealth. But it has been tough.

“There are so many more women in the kitchens today, compared to when I was in the kitchens starting off. There’s so many more. But just because there’s more cooking shows, the torch shines on it.”

She added: “I feel for Heston because things do get taken out of context and that’s why I don’t comment on it.

“He has a point, but I think the way it was worded – whether it was him or the way it was rewritten – is the issue. It always looks worse.

“You read something that says, ‘The body clock starts to tick’ and you’re like, ‘Really? That’s all women do?’ My first reaction was, ‘What the f***, Heston?’

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Galetti meeting the Queen (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“And then I thought about it and said, ‘Actually I’ve had comments taken out of context. Maybe, benefit of the doubt, that’s what’s happened here’.

“But the body clock [stuff], there is a point when women want to have children. It’s not safe for you to be in a kitchen 7-8 months pregnant, trying to lift those pans.

“To be a pregnant woman in the kitchen – I know, I’ve been there – the whole restaurant has to be checked to make sure that there is a toilet that she can get to, that there are more breaks for you, rest breaks. Just for someone who is pregnant.

“That is tough in an environment where you’re butchering, you’re cooking with huge stockpots; there’s bound to be spillages on the floor, it’s a dangerous environment to be when you are pregnant.

“I think the issue here is what happens after you become a mother and you try and adapt your new life as a parent, and as a working mother, in the industry. That’s when it gets tough.

“Can you afford the childcare; there’s a bigger issue here. Do you have family to support you so you can go back in the industry? Is your workplace willing to support you? These are the issues.

“Lifting a pan? That’s not a problem. The guys in my kitchen if you want, the girls will help a guy lifting a pan. I just hope for Heston that was taken out of context and it wasn’t written well.”

MasterChef: The Professionals starts on BBC Two on November 5 at 8pm.

PA

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