Vancouver chef David Hawksworth (Hawksworth Restaurant, Nightingale, Bel Café) has come under fire for remarks that he made at a Toronto event last week on why it’s still hard for women to break into the restaurant industry.
“The hours are long. It’s a very trying place, it’s a very hard career. I think they’re [women] probably a little bit smarter for staying away,” Hawksworth said at the 2019 Spring Icons and Innovators conference.
Toronto chef Felicia De Rose was one of the attendees at the event, who recorded and shared an audio clip of Hawksworth’s comments on social media. She continued the conversation of gender inequality and bias in professional kitchens on her Instagram account, which has sparked many replies and comments from other restaurant workers.
In a statement sent out to his staff and members of the press, Hawksworth emphasizes that he has never been prejudiced against women.
“I have had the pleasure of employing, working alongside, and championing many extraordinarily talented women in the industry throughout my career and continue to do so,” read the statement.
The local chef continued to reflect on his comments by posting an apology on his personal Instagram story, which claims his response to the Q&A question was a dead-pan joke that failed miserably.
“I will do better to get rid of bro culture in the kitchen. Please accept my heartfelt apology and let’s make the cooking world better for everyone,” he said.
The Straight reached out to Hawksworth for a phone interview—he wasn’t available but provided an email response regarding his comments last week.
“I reached out to Chef Felicia De Rose to offer an apology. I deeply regret making an off the cuff remark and apologize for causing offence. I feel very foolish and my comments do not represent the way I feel about women working in the industry,” read the email. “I never intended to offend anyone, but an important light has been shone on this critical issue and I think we should talk about it more.”