‘Hungry’ for Equal Respect, Recognition and Reward

A documentary sharing the trials, triumphs and tribulations of California-based trio of women chefs, will have its world premiere on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 9/8C on Logo. Filmed over a three-month period, “Hungry” profiles Chef Pink Delongpre of Bacon & Brine in Solvang, Chef Sarah Kirnon of Miss Ollie’s in Oakland and Chef Dakota Weiss of Los Angeles’ Estrella and Sweetfin Poke.

Change happens slowly and talented, determined women don’t always have time or desire to wait for the establishment to change.

Chef Pink Delongpre

Delongpre, who has appeared on “Bar Rescue” and “Cutthroat Kitchen,” is chronicled as she opens a farm-to-table restaurant on California’s Central Coast with her partner and their 10-yr old daughter. The portrait of Kirnon details her mission to turn her restaurant into a world class business that enriches her life as well as the lives of her employees. The documentary follows Weiss, a “Top Chef” contestant as she looks to expand her Sweetfin Poke restaurants to five cities in the next two years and operate her fine dining restaurant, Estrella.

“I’m always looking for projects that focus on the journey of woman or girl hood, and this project while focused on the chef world, really speaks to any woman who strives to succeed in a traditionally male dominated field,” Director Patty Ivins told Modern Restaurant Management magazine. “We knew we wanted to stay in California in order to maximize our shooting budget and from there, we really just worked to meet as many women chefs as possible.  There were so many incredible candidates, it was hard to narrow it down to these three awesome women.”

The participants didn’t shy away from discussing tough issues such as the lack of diversity in kitchens and treatment of women chefs from a financial standpoint.

“I feel that this is an important issue in the hospitality industry that needs attentions; it needs to be talked about; it needs light shed onto it,” said Weiss. “We are in the year 2016…why do women in a male driven industry still not have a voice, a stronger presence and equal value to male chefs?”

Delongpre said she wanted to help share her experience and bring light to it.

“There’s definitely financial inequality in business as well as pay structures.  We are still second to all male chefs in media, exposure and respect. We work harder, we do better, we are women!”

Kirnon, who hopes “Hungry” will place the spotlight on her Oakland community and Miss Ollie’s, sees a number of challenges for women and the restaurant industry as a whole.

“The main one that comes to mind right now is that women don’t get the funding to start great projects. As always, keeping great staff and paying them well. And cooking from the soul.”

Delongpre takes a “big picture” view on what’s down the road for the industry.

“With the new political climate, we are in new waters. Who knows what will come of the industry if the immigration changes take effect. We are a scared country, and that is never good for financial security for small businesses, especially the food industry.”

Weiss noted that she expected labor costs to be a major challenge for 2017 in California.

Sarah Kirnon
Chef Sarah Kirnon

“With the minimum wage rising every year it is becoming more and more difficult for smaller businesses to turn a profit when we are paying more for hourly and salary positions.  We can’t necessarily raise our prices too much without getting a ton of backlash from our customers.

Despite the challenges and the fact that female chefs still earn 28 percent less than their male counterparts, Delongpre and Kirnon can’t envision themselves in any other career.

Weiss could see something with a different fragrance.

“The only other profession that I could see myself doing daily would be a florist,” she said. “I love being surrounded by flowers and arranging them, not to mention the smell.”

“Hungry” also includes interviews with culinary notables including chefs Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, Amanda Cohen and Marcus Samuelsson, Bon Appetit’s Heather John Fogarty, LA Magazine’s Patrick Kuh, and KCRW/Good Food’s Evan Kleinman.

“What surprised me about making this film was how reluctant people were to talk about the lack of women executive chefs in the food world,” noted Ivins. “I reached out to over 40 top male chefs and only a small handful agreed to discuss the issue.  And the truth is many prominent women chefs had mixed feelings about addressing the gender issue, as well.  One prominent woman chef agreed to an interview and then cancelled the day of… twice!  Her assistant explained that the chef had second thoughts and “had nothing really to add.”  Obviously, I was pretty shocked and disappointed.”

“Hungry” is a Logo Documentary Films production in association with PB&J Television and Bunim/Murray Productions. Executive Producers for Logo are Pamela Post and Taj Paxton, and Executive Producers for PB&J and Bunim/Murray Productions are Gil Goldschein, Patty Ivins and Rob VanAlkemade.

“The message of this film is that change happens slowly and talented, determined women don’t always have time or desire to wait for the establishment to change,” said Ivins. “As such, these same talented determined women blaze new trails and create new opportunities for themselves … talented women are unstoppable.”

Dakota Weiss Kitchen
Chef Dakota Weiss