Bitch - a malicious, spiteful, aggressive or overbearing women. Something extremely difficult, or unpleasant. A female dog or other carnivorous mammal…
Now I said it, the dreaded "B" word. Yes girls, this is the word most commonly used in the English language to describe focused, hard working, ambitious tough women. Get use to it, get over it, and most importantly use it to your advantage. Wear it like a badge of honor. I am beginning to think men respect this because it reminds them of their female idols, mostly their mothers. Have you ever seen the bumper stickers "You say Bitch like it’s a bad thing" or "I’m not really a bitch I just play one in your life"?
Here's a quick story for all of you that brings me back to when I really had something to prove, all while making tons of mistakes along the way, trying to find my place in this professional world.
In 1988, when I was 31 years old, I was going to interview for the job of my dreams, the Executive Chef position for Hyatt Hotels in Greenwich, CT. This was a premiere boutique property with 460 rooms and suites, 2 restaurants, room service, 10 million in banquets (back then), and a hot night club. Oh baby it doesn’t get any better than that. I was flown down to Washington DC to meet with the corporate chef for Hyatt Hotels. Little did I know on my flight down, nervous enough about the meeting, that I would be interviewed in a Volvo sedan with the main corporate chef and three other Hyatt executive and regional chefs. To say the least, I was embarrassed, scared, self-conscious and uncomfortable. Lucky for me, I was naive, strong hearted, and quite accustomed to being around the opposite sex. We talked about the area, the hotels, the business, and surrounding restaurants making idle chit chat on the ride back from the airport.
The corporate chef, a confident powerful man with a very strong Hungarian accent, turns around from the front seat and says with the under tones of she-will-never-survive-this, "So Lisa, why you think I should hire you as an executive chef for the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich?" There was absolute silence in the car except for the pounding of my heart. After what felt like an eternity, the answer to his question ran from my lips without checking its content through the normal filter of my brain. Despite the fact that I was numb with fear and anxiety, I stayed cool like a cucumber. "Well Chef," I said with confidence, "I want you to know that I am not a bitch, I am not a prima donna. I am a professional chef who will do an outstanding job for you. I'm passionate, dedicated and qualified." As you can imagine after that ramble, there was deafening silence in that car that seemed to last forever. The regional Chef from DC turned to the corporate chef and said, "I like this girl, she has balls, you have to hire her," then the entire car broke out in laughter. It never really occurred to me until years later, but it was a breakthrough in our industry. I was doing what I loved, not trying to pave the way or become a crusader. But the fact of the matter is that is exactly what was happening. One month from that infamous car ride I began a new journey as the first woman executive chef for Hyatt Hotels in Greenwich Connecticut.