Are there too many men in food writing?

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Food writing, especially at the newspaper level, was once heavily weighted towards women. But over the past decade or so, food writing has shifted its focus and subsequently more men have become involved in the craft. Kathleen Purvis weighs in on this change, asking whether too many men are involved in food writing.

Purvis notes that when she came into the field over 25 years ago, "the lines were clear: Recipes and home cooking were mostly the role of food editors who tended to be women. Restaurant reviewing was mostly done by men. Professional cooking was done by chefs who were, yes, mostly men." Female chefs have since made precious few inroads, but men have really taken over food writing, she says.

This is especially true in Southern cooking, where the focus tends to be "on extremes that are driven by what interests men - all that barbecue, butchering and bourbon," writes Purvis. She spoke on the subject at an event called Food Media South. After speaking with several people, Purvis determined that "an awful lot of women feel left out of a conversation that used to be theirs alone."

Purvis felt a change shortly after Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential was published, saying that it "felt like food writing was becoming preoccupied with stunt cooking. Exotic food adventures in exotic lands and big-project cooking with heavy-duty equipment." More recently, though, she has noted that the pendulum has begun to swing back to home cooking. Whether that means more women will become food writers and editors is unclear. Purvis ends on an optimistic note, however, repeating what she said in her address to the Food Media South audience: "Food writing is a big table. There ought to be room for plenty of chairs."

If you look at cookbooks, women seem to be well represented in the monthly roundups. Do you think there is a good balance between the genders when it comes to food writing?

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