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Rennes market celebrates rise of French female chefs

The city of Rennes is celebrating female chefs this weekend (Sunday September 2), by including only restaurants and food by women in the 10th edition of its monthly food markets.

The “Marché À Manger” market, which takes place every first Sunday of the month in the Breton city’s central shopping area, is this weekend entirely dedicated to female chefs working in Rennes.

The event has been dubbed “Cheffes”, to use the female version of the traditional French word “chef”.

It will take place from 11h to 17h today, and include a wide range of food options, from high-end gastronomy, to bistrot-style, to street food.

This is a nod not only to the rise of the successful female chef in general - in a profession that is often seen as a macho, male arena - but also to show how advanced the city itself is when it comes to having women at the professional kitchen pass.

Dishes will sell for less than €7 each.

Food from 15 female chefs will be on offer, including dishes from Flavie and Nathalie Durou at Petite Nature; Géraldine Mouellic from Comme à la Maison; Adélaïde Perissel from Les Deux Sardines; and Yvonne Poggetti from Il Toscano.

There will also be a collection of food trucks outside, also run by women, including Miss Dom, Vit’nem, Listo Papito, and Le Camion Grec.

Virginie Giboire, chef-patron of the restaurant Racines, will also be at the market.

Ms Giboire trained as a chef in Paris before working in numerous high-end restaurants and later opening her own. She said that despite a third of her classmates being women, she is now the only one working in her own restaurant.

Ms Giboire - who has two young children - said: “Women have to work twice as hard to stand out in the kitchen. We put huge pressure on ourselves. And as soon as children come along, things get more complicated.”

Olivier Marie, food journalist and main organiser of the monthly market, said: “This is usual for Rennes. I do not think there are so many women in [professional] restaurant kitchens in the other towns in Brittany - not even in Nantes. Here there is a real resurgence. Around 15 to 20 years ago, there was only one female chef in Rennes.”

Speaking of the food and restaurants themselves, Mr Marie said: “Without being too clichéd, I do find [women’s] food more delicate. There is also a little more softness in relationships in the kitchen. Women are bringing a fresh approach to a man’s world.”

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