You’ve almost certainly seen the news story about 13-year-old McKenna Pope and her petition at change.org asking Hasbro, maker of the iconic Easy-Bake Oven, to provide a gender-neutral version of the toy. She says the toy repels boys because it comes only in “girl colours”.
And it doesn’t help that there’s still a big social faction out there that maintains real men don’t cook. Although… I’ve never met a woman who wouldn’t love a guy to make her an intimate champagne supper at the end of a great night out!
Alas, most guys just won’t go there..
Nevertheless… I think a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven could, if marketed properly, help solve a major issue in the North American foodservice industry. According to the Canadian Restaurant and Food Association (CRFA), there is a critical shortage of trained and qualified foodservice workers. The CRFA annual Market Review and Forecast quotes the Canadian Human Resource Council as predicting a shortfall of 172,000 skilled foodservice workers in Canada by 2025.Getting pre-teen and ‘tween boys interested in cooking now could be a good way to channel more Canadians into the foodservice sphere. How hard could that be? Everybody already knows that boys that age are deeply interested in eating food… Want a cookie? Make some yourself!
Foodservice unfairly stereotyped
Sure, a lot of people of all ages shake their heads and say no thanks to even one helping of a foodservice career. Many point out that entry-level jobs are low-paying and that it takes a long time to work your way up in the industry. Well, there’s a lot more to foodservice than fast-food drive-thrus, family diners and high-end French restaurants with snooty Mâitre D’s!
You need not be a lowly cook, looking at ten years of toil over a hot stove to become a Chef. (Actually, you can get to the top in half that time or less – if you have what it takes and work hard.) And, sure, a Chef at a fine dining establishment can make $50 K and up, plus bonuses. But Chefs and Chef consultants in the Hotel and Institutional sectors can make even more. Maybe you think it would be a blast to work in a major food product maker’s test kitchen? How about being a Dietician in a retirement residence or hospital? Or… How about becoming a Health Inspector, making sure that restaurant and other commercial kitchens in your community are clean and safe? Think about it: Even restaurant critics have to start somewhere…
And how many of us have dreamed of winning the lottery and opening our own restaurant? Believe me, it’s not as easy as it looks. And a good foundation in Culinary Skills and Foodservice Management is the best way to start.
A solid foundation
Most Community Colleges offer Culinary and/or Hospitality Programs. Apply early. They turn applicants away every semester. And still, there’s critical shortage of qualified foodervice workers.
I completed the Culinary Skills Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa as my gateway to a second career, after my previous career as a reporter, writer and editor imploded during the late 2000s recession. A few of the people in my class were like me – retired or semi-retired and boldly going where their family or friends thought they were crazy to go. The rest were right out of high school – learning to cook with wine before they were even old enough to drink it – or relatively young veterans of the foodservice game going back to school to get some “paper” certification to back up their off-the-street practical experience. What I’m saying, here, is that there’s a place in the foodservice industry for every one, regardless of age or gender.
Burn meat with fire!
So… C’mon, Hasbro! Roll out that stainless steel “Jr. Chef” Easy-Bake Oven! And how about a back yard “Ragin’ Ribs” Baby Black-Barrel Smoke House & Grill? Now, that’s bound to appeal to little boys who want to burn meat with fire, just like Dad!
McKenna Pope is apparently going to meet with Hasbro executives this week to discuss her proposal. We’ll keep you posted…
~ Maggie J.