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Chef Suzanne Barr Wants to Diversify Toronto’s Kitchens

by  CN Team on February 25, 2017
Chef Suzanne Barr Wants to Diversify Toronto’s Kitchens

Throughout the month of February, Saturday Dinette chef Suzanne Barr is posting images of famous and forgotten figures throughout black history on the restaurant’s Instagram account (@SaturdayDinette) in hopes of educating diners of the trailblazers that shaped history.

But Barr isn’t just focusing on the past; she created the Saturday Dinette program that trains aspiring female cooks to enter an industry dominated by men.

We spoke with Barr on being the only female black cook in the kitchen and what she’s doing to change that.

Why are you posting about Black History Month on social media?

Black History Month comes every year and a lot of the time, we think of the icons such as Martin Luther King Jr. Being in the position I am — a leader, teacher, mother and woman of colour — it’s important for me to educate people on the past and not only pay homage to the icons, but so many others that we don’t know about. Who were Edna Lewis (chef and cookbook author on southern cuisine) and Bessie Stringfield (the first Jamaican-American woman to motorcycle across the U.S.)? This is my contribution to black history.

Throughout your cooking career, how diverse were the kitchens you worked at?

I met some chefs in Paris when I was working as a private chef and it was predominately white men, but you’d find Africans in the back working the dish pit or as prep cooks. You might see some working the line and you might find a few women in pastry.

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