One woman's search (okay, mine) for female Benihana hibachi chefs
Seriously, if it's never been obvious to you before that I write my posts without any regard for whether or not people give a flip about the topic, it's got to be now. You'd think I'd want to try harder. People out there don't care about female hibachi chefs and whether or not there are any! People want recipes for brownies! People want tips on how to discipline kids! People want to hear the latest rant about a controversial topic! People want to read emotional stories about loved ones! These are the kinds of things that get a lot of traction on the internet. I've been told this before. I've been given advice about how to drive more traffic to my site before.
But, would you look at me?
If you are still reading, well, I thank you.
And the struggling female hibachi chefs of the world thank you.
Hahaha!! Women?! Sayonara to that! No women here!
Enjoying the culinary talents of hibachi chefs at Japanese restaurants (ahem, Benihana's) is something my family loves to do. We love to see them chopchopchopchopping the heck outta some scrambled eggs. We love opening our mouths in an effort to catch a clump of rice launched from a couple of feet in front of us. We love to watch them aim the clump of rice at my sons' mouths but miss and land rice in their hair eight times in a row. We love laughing at them when they say, "Meow" as they begin to slice into some raw chicken. Nothing makes us gasp more than a wall of fire that is then extinguished by a plastic man peeing on the flames (I've only seen that once and never at Benihana's). And we never cease to be amazed at how they can flip a raw egg all over the place with their spatula and then crack it on its edge while never actually touching it with bare hands.
But, as impressive as all of that is, I become distracted at those hot Japanese tables. As I glance around the room full of other people clapping and laughing and chowing down on the delicious fried rice and guzzling ginger dressing off of the iceberg lettuce salad, I notice there are no women hibachi chefs. This doesn't upset me or anything. I mean, maybe women just don't want to be hibachi chefs. I asked our hibachi man and he said he had never known a woman to don the red chef's hat and entertain the masses with her quick stir-frying skills. Not feeling satisfied with his isolated experience, though, I picked up the phone not too long ago to call about ten other Benihanas to ask them about their experience with women hibachi chefs.
"Konnichiwa. Thanks for calling Benihana. How may I help you?"
"Hi. I have a question for you. Could you tell me if you have any women hibachi chefs at your restaurant?"
"Yes, we do have lemon hibachi shrimp. We would just add some lemon to the shrimp, but we can do that. No problem."
"No, I didn't say lemon hibachi shrimp. I said women hibachi chefs."
"Ohhh!! Hahaha!! Okay. Ummm. Well, there is a woman that helps hand the food to the chef. She helps him get ready."
"But, are there any actual women chefs there?"
"No. No, not since I've worked here."
"Do you know why? Have there been any women applicants? Are they just not suited for the job? What's the deal?"
"I really don't know. I have no clue."
That was the response I received from the majority of the Benihanas I called, except that was the only guy that thought I said lemon hibachi shrimp. Only two said that they had a woman chef at one point long, long ago. One gentleman said she had to leave due to "issues she had to take care of" and the other one didn't know why she had left. One guy I called actually told me why he thought women didn't really cut it as hibachi chefs:
"Well, there just so many things to do. They have clean up, scrape table, sweep up. Too much for them. They have stay late, work hard. After that, no time for family. That why women no hibachi chefs."
Aha!!! So, according to him, women may not want to be hibachi chefs because they wouldn't have time for their families! That must be the bottom line in what this man was saying, because, if there is one thing most women know how to do, it's clean, scrape and sweep! Can I get an Amen??
Thanks to the good ol' Internet, I did eventually find ONE woman hibachi chef, but it still looks like she is in training.
I bet she'll be a good one and something tells me she won't make plastic men pee on the flames.
Ooo!!! Just before I hit "publish", I thought I would do ONE more search and- look!- I found another one!!!! I can't believe it! Maybe times are changing!
If I get some time later today, I may call ten more hibachi places. If I don't hear that they have any females chopchopchopping it up, I'll go picket. Well, I'll go picket after getting a salad with some of that ginger dressing on top with a gallon of ginger dressing on the side. I'M IN LOVE WITH IT.
Why don't you think there are more women hibachi chefs?
Are we even friends yet on Facebook? We've got to start there first!