Executive Chef Dana Woodward, hailing recently from Albany, NY, was the ideal chef choice for the East Coast meets West Coast, “Hudson meets the Hayes” vibe and menu of Dobb’s Ferry.
Woodward, who appreciates the grounding nature and “blue collar work ethic” of being a chef, as opposed to the ever-growing, rather generic pressure of trying to be a “chef-artist,” shared her personal experience of East Coast versus West Coast and coming up as a female chef in a male-dominated game.
“In the vein of AIice Waters and Jeremiah Tower, I really love cooking with fresh ingredients from ‘our own backyard’ year round. Cuisine in S.F. is much more ingredient driven. NY is frozen half the year so the kitchens are naturally inclined to be more about technique. Personally, I am grateful for how my East Coast mentality and training gives me an edge and pushes me to be my best. Reversely, I love living in my little beach community on the outer edge of S.F, where I can relax and let go a bit.
Chef Woodward’s Application:
Egg On Egg On Nest Panko Fried Egg White Deviled Yolk with Old Bay and Horse Radish Mustard Perched on Curly Scallion Nest, Finished with Espanola Caviaroli Pearls, EVOO Piqual and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena IGP.
Chef Dana Woodward’s Ingredient Perspective:
“You’re still putting a quality EVOO and Balsamic on a deviled egg but the Espanola EVOO and Balsamic Caviar make it fun, stylized, contemporary and delicious. An element of ‘fun’ is very important. I’m looking forward to incorporating this appetizer on our menu.”
Coming up as a female chef was hard, but it is the only truth I’ve of ever known, so I have nothing to compare it to. Women in the kitchen are perceived in two different ways. There’s an attitude taken that you either need to tiptoe around us or that we are not capable. Neither of course, are true.
There’s also the archaic view that the girls are going to distract the boys from doing ‘their’ job or the pervading fear of a male chef potentially being shown up by a woman.
Dated stereotypes of women not being able to handle hot things and sharp things and… God forbid ‘fire!’, are surprisingly still relevant in many kitchens. If you were to take a picture of my hands, you would see how burned, bent and scarred they are. I’m no hand model that’s for sure!
All of this forces you to be more vocal and aggressive. You can’t give an inch, ever. I am naturally this way so this was an asset. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of talented women get pushed out of the profession by not being loud enough. I’ve also seen a lot of female chef job applications (including my own) get thrown in the trash because they say, ‘We already have one of those.’”