Gender Equity and the Food Industry: A Spotlight on Daisy Zeijlon

The data points are staggering. 52% of all restaurant workers are women. 71% of servers are women. 82% of hostesses are women. 54% of all culinary students are women. And only 7% of all restaurants are led by women chefs.

Daisy Zeijlon, food and gender scholar discusses the “why” behind these numbers along with the “how” to change them. But first a fun behind the scenes story. Part of my joy in this culinary Kitchen Chat journey has been the unexpected ways in which I meet the guests. I must thank Sid Edelman, my classmate from graduate school in the Master’s program for International Business at the University of South Carolina. Sid’s son and Daisy were childhood friends. Sid reached out to both Daisy and me about Kitchen Chat.

Daisy started working in the hospitality industry at a young age and wrote her master thesis about gender equity in the food industry. Here is a link to her website and thesis. Here are Daisy’s top tips as to what can be done to help make a positive impact for women in the hospitality industry:

  1. Provide greater access for women to fund businesses within the hospitality industry.
  2. Diners are investors and should be encouraged to support/dine at restaurants with female chefs and owners.
  3. Restaurants should prioritize HR
  4. Food media should make a greater effort to amplify women’s voices in the culinary industry,

With a nod to sustainability, Daisy shares a quick and easy fridge salad recipe:

Fridge Salad for One. 

By Daisy Zeijlon 

Good salads are about layering texture and flavor, and that’s what this recipe is about: using pantry ingredients to create a salad that’s actually satiating. It’s juicy and crunchy, sweet and salty and, most importantly, takes less than 10 minutes to make. If you don’t have all of these ingredients, no stress—every ingredient can be substituted for things you have on hand. No romaine? Use arugula. No pita chips? Use crackers or croutons. Swap maple syrup for honey, or lime juice for balsamic vinegar. The best part of cooking is making recipes your own.


For the Salad – 

  • 1/3 head of romaine, chopped 
  • 1 endive, chopped  
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced  
  • 1/2 apple, sliced 
  • 1 tbsp roasted and salted almonds, chopped 
  • 1 tbsp dried cherries 
  • 2 tbsp ricotta salata, crumbled   
  • A handful of pita chips, crushed  
  • 1 tsp fried garlic
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds 

For the Vinaigrette – 

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tsp honey 
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Start with the vinaigrette. Place all of the ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake the jar rigorously for about 10 seconds to emulsify. This will make more vinaigrette than you need here, but it keeps well in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. Set it aside while you assemble the salad. 

Place all of the salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl (you always want to mix salad in a bigger bowl than you think you need, to avoid spillage). Pour in about a third of the dressing and toss with tongs, or your hands. 

Transfer the salad to a bowl or a plate and top with a little extra crumble of ricotta and a shake or two of toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy! 

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