Thoughts, ramblings, and #BTS by the L&T Editorial Staff.

Letter from the Founder

We have reached a turning point in America that has been a long time coming. It’s a reckoning that will hopefully cleanse our culture of the deplorable, destructive behavior that has become so deeply rooted––and even normalized––in our capitalist society, where dollar signs and displays of power often take precedence over people. I mention capitalism intentionally; we’re a country founded on the principle that anyone can make it to the top through pure hustle. As an entrepreneur and founder, I respect that.

The playing field is not always level when it comes to policy, economic or environmental perspectives, but of all the many obstacles, inappropriate behavior on the part of peers, colleagues or bosses should not be among them. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to build the next big thing, or a server trying to get by, we’re all just trying to hustle, earn a living and climb that mountain. The working environment is sacred to me; it’s the steam room that powers our society, a place that should be encouraging of new talent and ideas, and a setting for achievements that benefit us all, thanks to the hard work of others willing to share their knowledge, professionalism and work ethic.

But when a wrench is thrown into that cog—whether harassment, sexism, racism, or any form of oppression or misconduct—it undermines everything American life stands for; it creates trauma and unnecessary pain, and threatens the entire life of a business (along with the livelihoods of those that work under it) all for the personal gratification of one individual’s despicable interests.

Despite recent allegations that implicate a common, extremely corrosive theme across many kitchens––one hushed for so long–– it is my experience in documenting food culture for half a decade, that the majority of the industry represents a loving and supportive community. One that thrives on and celebrates diversity. And that is the community I fell in love with. That’s the one that inspires us to do the work we do every day.

But the sad truth is most celebrated chefs continue to look a certain way, when the diversity is what makes this industry work and for cuisine itself to exist. By exalting one individual over the many people involved in helping them achieve their own dreams, we’re placing the power solely in their hands––and that has proved to be a very dangerous recipe.

In response to such allegations, our Senior Editor wrote the words, “let’s be an industry of inclusiveness and inspiration, of empathy and support, and of community.” This is a philosophy on which Life & Thyme prides itself—from our work on The Migrant Kitchen to Doyenne: Female Force in Food. But we can still do better. We can all do better. We shouldn’t just tip the pedestal built for those offending individuals in the first place—we need to build new ones for those that haven’t even been given a chance, trailblaze for a different type of pioneer, leadership and generation. If all you’re picking are apples and those apples are bad apples, maybe try shaking the orange tree.

Yes, we will continue to document white male chefs, but we will consciously invest even more in highlighting the success (and struggles) of women, of immigrants, of people of every shade and color and sexual orientation, and the unsung heroes of our beloved industry. The playing field may not be equal for everyone––but we need to give them a chance to play the damn game in the first place.

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