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The Food World Is Also Having Its #MeToo Movement

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A #metoo movement is playing out in professional kitchens in the U.S. as celebrity chefs like Mario Batali face sexual assault allegations.

Kitchens in America’s top-rated restaurants have long been a boys club in which men hold the positions of power and women have to play by their rules, even when they cross the line. However, the reaction to allegations against top chefs and media darlings like Mario Batali show that the tides may be turning as the #MeToo movement enters the kitchen.

It has led to the fall of other male culinary titans like New York restaurateur Ken Friedman, who was accused of sexual harassment and treating employees abusively, and John Besh, who was accused by 25 women of running a restaurant group that fostered a culture of sexual harassment.

As these allegations build, some of the women in the culinary world are fighting to change the culture from the inside to make restaurants a place where women and men can grill, glaze and garnish without fear of sexual assault or harassment. The Duke University Forum for Scholars and Publics is hosting a two-day conversation about the #MeToo movement in the food world.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with James Beard Award-winning food writer Kelly Alexander and award-winning food writer and food historian Sandra A. Gutierrez about what a cultural shift will mean for female chefs. The conversation "Food Media and #MeToo” takes place Thursday, Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Durham Hotel in downtown Durham and the “Violence in the Kitchen” discussion with Alexander, Gutierrez and other guests runs Friday, Oct. 5 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Duke University’s West Campus.

Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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