01 June 2004

Now I'm Cookin'

Could someone please explain to me why the Kosher Culinary Academy, apparently the only kosher cooking school in the world, admits only men?

Well, that's not entirely true. There is a twelve-week "short course" option for women (which they may or may not run again) that is geared toward "students who are competent in a domestic kitchen." Hmmmm....no sexism there, huh? Of course, I know plenty of 18- or 20-year-old women who are choosing their first career who are already "competent in a domestic kitchen." They will teach, among other things, "catering theory," "the rules of the commercial kitchen," and how to "prepare full course meals comprising both traditional and modern gourmet dishes, according to Jewish law." Students will also "learn about nutrition and health-conscious cooking. A professional baking and cake decorating course is offered as an optional part of the course." Not shabby, I guess. The course description claims "to equip you to work in a catering company, hotel or restaurant kitchen, with the potential to set up your own food business."

Their year-long professional course, on the other hand, seems to be far more intense and offer better preparation for a serious career chef. In addition to the cooking classes (which look far more involved than in the women's course and appear to have a greater emphasis on presentation and menu design), male students will study kashrut laws--including hilchot basar b'chalav (the laws of meat and dairy), checking ingredients, and hilchot bishul Shabbat (the laws of "cooking" on Shabbat)--"using Gemara, Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berura sources, b'Chavrusa and with Shiurim by competent Rabbanim." Now, I have no doubt the women will be taught to keep kosher as well, but I'm guessing the women's course will not adequately prepare its students for the many halachic problems which would arise in their own businesses. Of course, we can't let those silly women think they actually know what they're doing.

Oh, the men get to go on field trips to wineries, cheese factories, farms, produce markets, and factories. Hebrew lessons and dormitory accomodations are offered (I guess women all live with their husbands or fathers). The men can take advantage of job placement services.

Look, people, it's not like this is some generations-old yeshiva where at least the faculty can fall back on "tradition" as their basis for sex discrimination. The KCA started teaching less than six months ago. You want to argue that it's not in keeping with tzniut (the laws of modesty) to teach men and women together? Fine, I'll debate that with you. I think I may win, but that's another story. In the meantime, how about at least making the two courses on par with each other? Or are you too afraid that your wives and daughters won't be waiting at home for you with your dinner on the table after you return from a long day in the kitchen?

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