The number of men who are the principle cooks in their households has been on the rise for some time. Gradually, men have shrugged off the notion of cooking as women’s work and redefined it in their own terms.
Men are bringing the same passion for quality, engineering and detail once reserved for more traditionally male pursuits, such as auto maintenance, home audio/visual technology and lawn care. In the process, they are transforming the once-cozy kitchen into a workshop for achieving culinary excellence.
A funny thing happened on the way to achieving gender parity. As more women entered the workforce in the 1980s and ’90s, time-pressed couples began cooking less, turning to other sources, such as fast food and packaged and processed meals.
Eventually, as people aged and started raising families, this trend reversed, with the emphasis switching to healthier eating habits and more home-prepared meals. Only now men — remember Mr. Mom? — assumed more responsibility for the task.
A 2012 study conducted at the University of North Carolina examined trends in food preparation and consumption between 1965 and 2008. During that period, the researchers found the proportion of men who cooked increased from 29 percent to 42 percent, and of those who cooked, time spent cooking increased from 37 to 45 minutes per day. The proportion of women cooking declined from 92 percent to 68 percent, and those who did cook showed a decrease in time spent from 113 to 66 minutes per day.
Ask a woman how she learned to cook, and she is likely to name a family member — mother, grandmother or aunt. As men began to take over the kitchen, they turned to professional male chefs as their models. Out with the Teflon, in with the Calphalon. Goodbye HotPoint; hello Viking and Sub-Zero.
Sales of professional quality cookware, cutlery, gadgets and appliances for the home boomed. According to an article in The New York Times, sales of specialty cookware increased 17 percent just between 2000 and 2002. Male viewership of cooking shows like “Emeril Live” jumped from almost nil to 42 percent. A weekend outing might include a stop at Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, as well as the Home Depot.
This trend continues to grow. A survey conducted in Great Britain earlier this year found that 60 percent of men say they are happy to cook every night, and 1 in 5 do so.
Spending more time in the kitchen, men are putting their own stamp on kitchen design. As one recent article put it, for men the kitchen is the new shed: “It’s a man-cave where we can keep our tools — only the battery recharger has given way to the batterie de cuisine; the lethally edged Japanese knives are in their racks; the heavy-bottomed Le Creuset pots hang on their hooks, the lids neatly stored.”
And of course, there are the gadgets, lots of manly gadgets, like blowtorches, digital scales and thermometers, deep-fat fryers, grills and, for the hardcore, water baths. More recently, this trend has moved outdoors, with the full patio kitchen, complete with gourmet gas grill and wood-burning stove.
Designing for this kind of cooking is like designing for a restaurant kitchen or testing lab. Food preparation has been replaced by food science and engineering. How haute can you go?
About the Author
Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was provide by Multibriefs.