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The Bad Bitches

Tell us a little about the driving goal and passion of the Bad Bitches? 
We are eating the industry of gender bias while having a damn good time.  We want to provide out an outlet, resource, and female perspective on the food and beverage industry.
Do you think women have it harder in the industry? Why- sexual harassment, physicality, or basic stereotyping, having boobs and what not?
I think that women are often not provided with the same opportunities as men in a kitchen.  We often talk to young women and tell them that every kitchen is not for you and you should find the environment that will allow you to grow.  The number of kitchens where men and women get equal opportunities are fewer than they should be and we want to push to change that.  One of the most awesome things that we do is connect women in the industry at all levels.  So often at work or events there are not as many women to build relationships with just because there are not as many of us.  We are connectors through events, social media and our blog so that women can find more people to share stories and gain support from.  You often hear of the "boys club" in the industry, well we are forming our girl gang.  
What are some things you have had to overcome in the kitchen? As a lady, as a person, as a kid.
I started cooking in 2008 when I was 22 and out of College of Charleston.  There were not as many restaurants in Charleston and competition cooking shows were all the rage, everyone wanted to be a chef.  Nobody would higher me on as a prep cook without any experience or going to culinary school.  My first job was back of house as a dishwasher.  I was a really good dishwasher because I wanted to get promoted.  I realized, after 2 years, that the chef I was working for was not the best guy and liked showing me off in the dish pit as a kind of ego move.  One time, he called me into the dining room during line up.  I had on my resume that I was in a sorority in college.  He looked at the servers and said "Look how great I am, I have this girl washing my dishes!  Sing us one of those sorority songs!"  I told him no and walked back to the dish pit.  That was a hard time for me because I was naive and couldn't understand what was really happening, I beat myself up over it.  I decided to leave and beg Mike Lata at Fig for a prep job.  After some convincing, he hired me on and promised me I wasn't going to wash dishes anymore.  Since then, I have been doing everything that I can to prove that I belong in a kitchen.  Being constantly pushed down in my first kitchen job and given such great opportunity in my second, I was not only made a fighter but also fully aware of the struggles females face in the professional kitchen.  
I have a really bad temper and I have learned a lot of self control as I have gotten older.  A lot of that came with getting older and wiser, but I had more realizations when I became management as to how your tone, mood, and actions can affect a staff.  We work in high stress environments and sometimes I still get really mad, but its far less often.  I have also learned that taking a walk is a great thing. 
Have a funny story? 
We had our 80's cocktails and dreams dance party and when the night started to really get going, we realized that about half the guests were on Ecstasy of some sort.  We had to cut the lights on before things got really weird.  
I am really excited about the Bad Bitches Tilit staging project! Why are you excited?
I think that staging is the best way to open your eyes to new things.  You can learn anything from organizational skills, technique, sourcing, management strategies, expediting systems, and not to mention you get to try delicious food!  It's also a great way to develop relationships with people in the field.  Our industry is super cool because it exists and allows people to get better on shared knowledge.  It's not an industry that requires degrees, but instead one where people push themselves and others to get better.  It goes with our "forrealist" perspective on life.  We want to have a portion of the proceeds from the Tilit project go towards a staging fund for women to receive stipends to further their knowledge of the industry in the realist way possible.       
Culinary school or straight to the kitchen?
You don't need it, neither Nikki nor I would recommend it.  She went and I didn't.  We believe working your way up is the way to go.
There has been a second and even a third wave in feminism today? How is it affecting the industry?
Feminism today is rad.  There are so many women helping women and we think it's awesome.  With the internet and social media it's also very obtainable to all.  The number of incredible women that we have met on this journey would blow your mind.  
Who are you some of your role models?
Julia Child, Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, April Bloomfield, Ashley Christensen, Mike Lata and Jason Stanhope (my mentors), Beyonce
What are some new or ongoing projects you are excited about?
Yes!  We are hosting pop up dinners under the name "Aunt Harriet's".  It's a family style dining experience inspired by the ingredients of the lowcountry.  It's my first chance to cook my food for the town that raised me, so it's my favorite project at the moment.  There's lots of veggies, fish, and mismatched vintage platewear and glasses.  We haven't totally lost the Bad Bitches vibe, the playlist is full of slow jams and 90's rap.  Right now, they are on Sundays and we feed 20 each week.  Check it out at www.auntharriets.com or on instagram @auntharriets
Pop ups are your guy's thang why do you love them?
They take you out of a normal restaurant environment, which is really fun.  It also allows us to control our own schedule and not have the overhead that a restaurant has.  
How's Charleston doin?
The Charleston food scene is insane right now.  We have 4 well known chef's opening in town right (Michael Toscano, Damon Wise, John Lewis, Kristen Kish), which is crazy when you think that downtown Charleston has a population of 34k and is only 8 square miles.  The newest season of Top Chef is filming here next month and we are now home to 4 James Beard Best Chef Southeast.  The food scene is getting bigger, but my hope is that with more people coming in the more everyone will have to up their game and challenge each other.  For somebody like me who is from here and been in the industry since I was 15, which is over half my life, I never thought we would have this sort of national attention.  It's pretty cool.

Written by Sofie Buck — April 29, 2016

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