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Gender and Racial Bias Behind a Filipino Dish

Photo by Kristian Angelo on Unsplash

“Sometimes, as a young woman manager, I feel I need to prove myself double. People’s mentality can be such that they give you a hard time because you don’t look how they perceive you should…” said Jacqueline Chio-Lauri in an interview with Emirates Woman Magazine. It was 1995 in the United Arab Emirates, home to large numbers of female British expats. It was, however, rare for a young, expat Filipino woman to occupy a management-level role at a high-end restaurant in a world-renowned establishment. Twenty-four years on, gender and racial gaps still persist worldwide. 

The New Filipino Kitchen

In her newly released book, The New Filipino Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from around the Globe, Chio-Lauri shares her experience as a manager grappling with singlehood in a society riddled with gender and racial biases and at a restaurant touting a signature dish for two. The story is told through the lens of a Filipino dish called sinigang, a sour and savory soup. 

The UK-based author collected 30 stories and recipes. Chefs of Filipino heritage who contributed to the book include 2018 Bocuse d’Or Europe winner Christian André Pettersen, 2015 MasterChef New Zealand runner-up Leo Fernandez, and the U.S. White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford. Comerford, born and raised in the Philippines, is the first female and the first person of Asian descent to hold the position. Seventeen out of the 30 book contributors are women. 

San Francisco Chronicle, which named The New Filipino Kitchen one of their favorite cookbooks of 2018, described Chio-Lauri’s story as “especially poignant”, while Publishers Weekly described it as “a delightful piece on the topic”.

On April 24-26, Chio-Lauri will return to the Emirates for the first time since she left the country in 1998. She has been invited by the Sharjah Book Authority to attend the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. She’ll be among the first Filipino cookbook authors to join the festival’s cookery corner in its eleven-year history.

Jacqueline Chio-Lauri has more than eight years’ experience in the food industry opening and managing restaurants at deluxe hotels, such as Shangri-La and Sheraton. While working in Dubai, she was one of the five young women professionals featured in Emirates Woman magazine in a special report, “Why the Future Is Female.” Her writing has appeared in anthologies and compilations such as Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength and Tales of Our Lives: Fork in the RoadThe New Filipino Kitchen, her first book, won the Sunshot Prose 2017 Finalist Prize before it was published. She currently lives in the UK, her seventh country of residence.

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