Is there a gender divide in the kitchen?

Jennifer Rubell, 36, writer, renowned hostess, hotelier, Harvard grad and member of the illustrious Rubell clan, is poised to become the country’s newest entertaining guru.  Jennifer is currently Food and Entertaining Editor of the Miami Herald’s Home & Design magazine, Former Contributing Food Editor of, the recently folded (March 2009), Condé Nast shelter magazine Domino, and her first book, Real Life Entertaining, was released in May 2006 by HarperCollins.  She writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and has appeared in, among others, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Better Homes and Gardens, Elle, The New York Times, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Travel + Leisure, Ocean Drive and Food & Wine. In 2007, Paper Magazine named Jennifer one of its 30 most beautiful people.  

Entertaining is in Jennifer Rubell’s blood.  Her uncle, the late Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell, treated Jennifer as his own child, taking her along to parties with Halston, Calvin Klein, Liza Minelli and Bianca Jagger, and inviting her to every major event at Studio 54, starting at the age of 7.  Her parents, world-renowned contemporary art collectors Donald and Mera Rubell, became famous in the ‘80s for the Whitney Biennial after-party they hosted at their Upper East Side townhouse.  With artists like Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and Andy Warhol roaming around the house, Mera turned out bowl after bowl of spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce, with Jennifer at her side learning the Rubell family style:  personal, unconventional and decidedly hands-on.

  • Transcript


Jennifer Rubell: I think men and women cook really differently at home.  And I mean this is, of course, broad strokes.  But I think . . . I think rustic, earthy home cooking is still basically the province of women.  And I think restaurant cooking is still basically the province of men.  And I think some women cook like men, and some men cook like women.  But I still think that that broad divide is still in operation today.  And I think a lot of the men I know who are avid home cooks are sort of almost semi-professional cooks.  You know they approach cooking, and it’s like there are 1,000 pots that are dirty.  The food . . . they’re doing reductions, and sauces, and really complex cooking techniques that they’ve seen in cutting edge cooking magazines.  You know they’re deep into it.  Whereas I think women are more likely to just get food on the table every night.  Sometimes, you know, with great flair; sometimes with just getting food on the table every night.  So I mean that’s maybe a little bit sexist, but I think it’s more of a . . .  It’s held true with . . . with most people that I know.  That said, certainly the doors to professional kitchens are now slightly open to women.  It’s still, I think, a terrible place for anyone to be, man or woman.  Very difficult.  And the people who do it are my heroes.  It’s amazing.  But the home kitchen door has kind of always been open.  A lot of men haven’t always wanted to go inside.  But yeah.  It’s . . . it’s . . .  The bad part is that the more the home kitchen gets sort of professionalized, the more intimidating it feels.  And the more you feel like you could throw together a good meal with one pan and a couple of ingredients, the more you’re probably gonna do it.

Recorded on 12/13/07