Chef And Author Ariel Fox's Advice To Women In The Industry - Exclusive

If "Hell's Kitchen" champion Ariel Fox's life growing up in the culinary industry was a fairytale, it was closer to a Brothers Grimm original than the sanitized Disney special. A lot of female-bodied chefs would probably tell you the same thing. "We've gotten to a place now where there's a little bit more support," Fox told Mashed in an exclusive interview. "I hope that people don't have to put up with as much as we put up with, because it was wild, looking back on it." 

Fox doesn't think there were any exceptions among her generation of culinary professionals. "I never personally compromised myself in any physical way," she reflected. "But we all, in my generation, compromised in some way, whether we allowed inappropriate remarks in the walk-in refrigerator throughout the day." It was an atmosphere in which people enthusiastically crossed lines. 

"The things that would happen in the kitchens, and the things that people would say [weren't okay], and you would laugh and giggle because you wanted to fit in and be part of the cool restaurant crew," Fox said. "You might have been tired, but you still went out after work, even though you knew you shouldn't go out, because that's what everyone was doing." She shared her advice for anyone going through anything remotely similar to that experience.

Ariel Fox's two cents

Looking back, the "Beat Bobby Flay" judge knows she put up with "more than I should have." The industry has changed since the time she put in shucking oysters, prepping salads, and working in other entry-level positions, though there's still work to be done to make it a better environment.

"It's a different space. There's definitely a lot more spotlight, so there's a little bit less of that going on," Ariel Fox acknowledged in our interview. That doesn't mean that the industry has been scrubbed free of sexism — or its aftershocks. "[Sexism is] not gone," Fox affirmed. "It's going to be there, and it's going to stay there."

If your experiences coming up through the industry are similar to Fox's, the Concept Executive Chef at "Dos Caminos" wants you to know that putting your foot down is okay. "It's important to tell a young woman that it's okay to say, 'No,' and to say, 'That bothers me,' or whatever you need to say and not to be afraid for your job," she said. "If you truly are passionate about this ... you don't need to hang out and party with people," Fox continued. "Focus on you. Do you."

Ariel Fox's new book, "Spice Kitchen: Healthy Latin and Caribbean Cuisine" is available for preorder now and will be available wherever books are sold on August 23.