SWEET SUCCESS: Karen Donatelli paid her culinary dues apprenticing under a classical French pastry chef in a predominantly male kitchen. Photo by Alicia Funderburk

A man’s world? Three successful women chefs share their experiences

It’s hardly breaking news that the food industry is a male-dominated field. What’s interesting is that the tides are reportedly changing: The number of women entering culinary schools is rising steadily, more and more women are working in the industry, and a female executive chef is far from the jaw-dropping news it was 20 years ago. But even as the modifier “female” before the word “chef” becomes more annoying than warranted, it’s still the case that women are a minority in the industry and are less likely than men to fill leadership positions in the kitchen.

Fire on the Rock serves up a fierce competition-attachment0

Fire on the Rock serves up a fierce competition

In a series of Fire on the Rock cooking competitions in Wilmington, Asheville, Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina’s top culinary talents are vying for the title of the state’s best chef. A crowd of 125 foodies assembled at Biltmore Estate’s Lioncrest on Monday, March 31 to indulge in a sumptuous, six-course feast. Chef Michelle Bailey of Season’s at Highland Lake Inn & Resort in Flat Rock and her team went up against Chef Sam Etheridge and his team from Ambrozia Bar & Bistro in Asheville.