Mallory Cayon, who helped create the cult-favorite brunch recipes at Sunday in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg, has remained head pastry chef as the Sunday Hospitality group grew to four restaurants: two in Brooklyn and two in Los Angeles. She said that for the first time since she entered the profession, she is in a workplace where the pastry operation (mostly staffed by women) is on equal footing with the “savory” side of the kitchen (mostly men).
“It starts in culinary school, because you look around and all the bakers are girls,” said Ms. Cayon, 30, who said she was surprised at the time that gender imbalance in the field remained so persistent, long after most workplaces had become more inclusive. “The men who do it are deemed less masculine.”
Dianna Daohueng, the culinary director at Black Seed Bagels in New York City, said that working your way up in the restaurant business as a woman, as a person of color or as a first-generation American — or, in her case, all three — means confronting prejudice every day.
“Just being a minority in the kitchen and in life turns you into a natural activist,” said Ms. Daohueng, 38, whose parents immigrated from Thailand before she was born.
Ms. Day, of Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, took a different path to protest baking. She was raised in Los Angeles, but spent summers in Tuscaloosa, Ala., learning to bake from her grandmother. “That was my culinary school,” she said.
She also came to see how baking skills have defined Black women’s lives, especially in the South. “My great-grandmother was both enslaved and a pastry cook who was famous for her biscuits and cakes,” she said. “There is power in that.” (Ms. Day, 59, has just completed a cookbook based on her Southern lineage, to be published by Artisan next year.)