Hey, Foodies! Have you heard of Anthony Bourdain? (Look him up!). This celebrity chef, accomplished author (including of the best-selling book Kitchen Confidential) and star of the Emmy Award winning TV show “No Reservations” among others could not have gotten it done without today’s Fit Lister, Beth Aretsky. Affectionately referred to as the “Grillbitch”, Beth is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, an accomplished chef, and Bourdain’s former Executive Assistant (which in the world of celebrity chefs is a gigantic and much sought after gig). She was at times the only woman in the kitchen and witness to what at times was the very sexist (and crazy) world of high-profile chefs and their kitchens and has a wealth of stories to share about her experiences. Welcome to the Fit List, Beth Aretsky:
1. Did you always know that you wanted to be a chef?
I grew up in the restaurant business. My mother’s cooking probably influenced my appreciation for food, and my father definitely inspired me to get into the restaurant business.
3. The restaurant industry is pretty male dominated. What was the secret to your success?
I had (have) a razor tongue, sense of humor, and tough skin.
4. Did you encounter sexism in your career? How did you handle it? What is your advice to someone who encounters sexism in the workplace?
Yes, I most definitely did. Well, mostly I would attack verbally… and occasionally a searing hot frying pan handle! Well, things have changed so drastically that now I think you have to probably tell the chef…unless you don’t care about your job, and seek revenge…however one sees fit. 😏💪🏻
5. Grillbitch? Compliment? When is the “b word” ok?
Grillbitch! Great word! I was the ONLY woman working in the kitchen on the grill station at the time. So, that was the nickname I gave myself. The B word is ok unless it is used in a derogatory manner. But for me, at that time it was powerful!
6. What is the biggest challenge of being an “assistant”? Were you ever asked to do something you thought was beneath you? What did you do?
Being an assistant has its ups and downs. I had misfortune of having to end a relationship that wasn’t mine! (We’re pretty sure you would not find that in ANY job description.)
7. What makes you feel confident?
Knowledge! And being able to handle what ever is thrown my direction
8. When you are having an off day but you still have to bring your A game, what do you do?
Be professional! Leave your drama at home! And get to work and SMILE!
9. What does “She’s Fit to Lead” mean to you? How does someone get to be “Fit to Lead”?
It means being prepared, and confident. Work hard!! Very hard!
10.Would you share a healthy recipe? What’s something that is quick, easy to make in a college dorm room, healthy, and still tastes good? Does anything like that exist?
I was recently at the CIA, and the food hall was unbelievable!! 1000x’s better than when I was a student there. The easiest, healthy possible dorm cooking I would imagine would be done in a microwave. I’m not a huge fan of cooking with them.. But you can have a healthy sweet potato in just 10 min! Make sure to wash and poke the potato with a fork so it doesn’t explode…10 min you’ve got dinner!
Thank you Beth! We look forward to you sharing more of your stories and advice with us, and welcome to the Fit List!
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