“I just worked really hard. I tried to make it so it wasn't like “I’m a girl and I'm in an alpha male-dominated industry.” I just tried to do a really good job, so they had to like me no matter what, regardless of my gender.
When I was younger, I was always lifting heavy pieces of equipment or heavy pots filled with sauces. I would never have a guy help me out, I would always try to do it on my own. Now that I have my own restaurant I'm like, “oh, that's heavy - can you grab that for me?” I don't care, because I don't have to prove myself anymore and I'm getting old.
When guys come in here [to fix equipment], they're like: “is the manager or owner here?” And I'm like, “Yeah, I'm here. What do you need from me?” They talk to me like a moron, and then my husband comes in and they’ll only talk to him. They don't want to talk to me, so I'm like “Great, just talk to him. I really don't give a shit. I'm the one who signs your check.” It's exhausting, but at some point you're like, “whatever dude, I don't care!”
It's fine if you're a dude and you're an asshole and a psycho, but if you're a girl and you're a bitch and a psycho it's completely different.
[In] my first Head Chef job I was a crazy psycho because I had just come off Top Chef so everybody was there to criticise me. It was my first role as an executive chef, and I'm a perfectionist so I wanted everything to be as good as it could be.
I guess once you get older and the more you do this, you realise you have to let certain things go. But I didn't know that at the time, so everything was the biggest deal to me... Even when I first started here I had to let go, and I came from a fine-dining background, so that was even more of a shit show.
Now I'm pretty mellowed out and chill, I'll still flip out if people are doing dumb shit, but I let more roll off my back. The more experience you have, the more you realise what you need to get upset about and what you need to let go of.”
- Leah Cohen