Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Day Trips: 10 ways to have fun outside near San Antonio

Day Trips: 10 ways to have fun outside near San Antonio

Outdoor Issue 2014: Who wouldn’t love to take a long trip to the Rocky Mountains or the Adirondacks, but let’s get real: not all of us have time (or the... By Mark Reagan 9/24/2014
Best Korean Restaurant

Best Korean Restaurant

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Food & Drink

On the Line: Finding female chefs in San Antonio

Photo: Photos by Josh Huskin, License: N/A

Photos by Josh Huskin

Brooke Smith runs a tight ship at the Esquire Tavern

Photo: , License: N/A

Jame Arias and Fanny Valdez with their 36-foot-long RV kitchen


Ass-grabbing aside, Smith admits running a kitchen isn’t for the meek.

“It’s a huge emotional load to hear what everyone’s going through, what everyone’s getting upset about. You have to manage all of that and keep yourself cool and collected,” Smith said.

At just over two years at the helm of the staff, Smith is still learning how to delegate, put procedures in place and look over a staff.

When asked about other female chefs, she mentions Caitlin Simmons, kitchen manager at Stella Public House and former chef at Auden’s Kitchen; when pressed with where women might go in the industry if not heading up a restaurant, she points to catering.

You Don’t Own Me

“You get to plan for it, you know what happens every night,” Smith said of one of the more popular paths for female chefs. “At restaurants, you’re going through shit, going through towels, dropping tongs. You’re so frantic you might not know if you’re going to make it through the night. Catering is a different beast. You know your numbers.”

Catering also allows more flexibility. Jennifer Dobbertin, who previously worked in nonprofit management, kind of fell into food. After living in Bangkok for several years, she returned to the States and wanted to replicate those authentic Asian flavors. Because she has no professional training, she hesitates to call herself a chef.

She worked in a kitchen briefly before realizing that being on a line wasn’t for her.

“I don’t have the energy for it. I started late and I have total respect for everyone in the kitchen that works as hard as they do…if I had started 10 years ago, it’d be a different story,”said Dobbertin.

She had some insight into industry life as a child. Her classically trained chef father launched his own eatery and Dobbertin was able to see how hard her parents worked, how much of a strain it put on her parent’s relationship and how grueling kitchen life can be.

Her brief commercial kitchen stint also gave Dobbertin a taste of what she called a “locker room” setting.

“It’s boys. It’s an extremely male-dominated environment, so I had to put my head down and get to work. I’m kind of a tomboy as well, so I can kind of join in a little bit, but it’s still tough,” Dobbertin said.

To pursue her newfound love of food, and not have to climb up an old-school kitchen hierarchy, Dobbertin started several culinary ventures: We Both Love Soup (which is on a summertime hiatus), Hot Mess Catering and Riff Raff Supper Club.

The advantages of catering are clear for Dobbertin who can plan menus in advance, take as many jobs as she wants and have more control over her hours and the people she employs.

“When you’re working the line, you don’t have control over rush, over how many people to expect or what to prep for. You’re making educated guesses,” Dobbertin said. “I might have control issues,” she admitted.

Fanny Valdez, 55, and daughter Jame Arias, 33, skipped the brick-and-mortar hot line and opened the food truck Sabor Colombiano on Wheels in 2011. With three summers under their belt, the mother-daughter team are setting their own schedules, working about five hours a day, four days a week and sticking with corporate lunches, events and catering.

Recently in Food & Drink
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus