There are dozens of short pitch films to wade through via the Storyhive competition site, but the one that has me especially stoked is called Women On The Line. Created by Vanessa Ratjen, the pitch focuses on Melanie Witt, who has risen to the position of Sous Chef at Savio Volpe, a popular restaurant in Vancouver’s Fraserhood. Here’s the synopsis:
Commercial kitchens are overwhelmingly male-dominated. The chef’s domain is an intense centripetal hustle of food and masculine ego and, for a variety of reasons, the professional culinary field continues to be an extremely challenging place for women to enter into. However, as more talented female chefs prove they have the chops to make it, they’re creating some much-needed change in the industry. Through the lens of sous chef, Melanie Witt, we highlight the arduous demands of working in a kitchen, and how and why gender balance is so valuable. An homage to women working on the line, we explore the positive impact of strong, female mentorships in the food business and what breaking the kitchen’s glass ceiling could look like.
Melanie worked the pasta station when I was on the pass during the restaurant’s first couple of weeks. I had the privilege of watching her up close when the kitchen was coalescing around the fact that what was happening around us was very real, that Savio Volpe was always going to be this busy, if not busier. She was amazing to work with – so poised, so dedicated, so fast! I respect her tremendously for her extra-curricular fascination with local ingredients (she’s part of the dedicated group behind the Elementa pop-up dinners), but her cool demeanour in the heat of a Saturday night rush is what really needs to be seen. One day she’s going to have a kitchen of her own, and Vancouver (I really hope it’s Vancouver) will be all the better for it. I didn’t know that she had since been promoted up to Sous Chef, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least. She quietly commands the respect she deserves, and I’m thrilled to see her get this attention.
If you’re like me and really want to see the pitch above turned into a 10 minute film, vote for it here (seek out the “VOTE” button top right when the page loads). You can vote once a day for the duration of the voting period (September 19 – 23).