Jessica Rosval Chef Casa Maria Luigia (Modena, Italy)
The theme of “pink quotas” in Italy is perennially at the forefront of many a conversation on Italian chefs. Women’s Day made special note of the current statistics on women in the kitchens of fine restaurants - sadly denoting data anything but comforting on the evolution of an equal proportion of culinary professionals.
HAUTE CUISINE’S INCLUSION OF WOMEN
Haute cuisine is an employment field registering one of the lowest figures of female employees, amounting to 4% representation throughout the world’s starred restaurants. This number is likely a reflection of the baggage the industry continues to carry with it from its past, a time where machismo ruled the roost. It’s quite believable that this attitude of male dominance is still the case in many realities today.
There is an immense wealth of great cooks who are continuously more prepared to be professional while still maintaining prolific activity in a social field. To ensure that theirs is not just a sterile protest, these chefs daily display their tremendous talents, and show us why their individual dignities must be respected in order to achieve equality and social justice even within a culinary scheme.
If you want to see how women also face the world of wine and their inclusion in it, follow the article Is Inclusivity the Real Deal for Women in the World of Wine? Let's take a peek together in a world that gives the impression of being inclusive - let's see if it is in fact welcoming.
WHO IS JESSICA ROSVAL?
Such is the combative case of Jessica Rosval, Head Chef of Massimo Bottura's luxurious Bed & Breakfast Casa Maria Luigia.
Impressively, Rosval has been cooking for 20 of her 35 years. Included in her experience has been 7 years of cooking alongside and learning from Italian maestro Massimo Bottura, creator of the Osteria Francescana. This temple of Italian food has been named the world’s best restaurant twice, in 2016 and 2018, and is the holder of 3 prestigious Michelin stars.
At just 15 years of age, Jessica began her culinary adventure in Montreal, where she began working in a local Italian restaurant.
Rosval continued her culinary training for many years following this first experience. Her path eventually brought her into contact with Melissa Craig, in the hinterlands of British Columbia.
Almost by accident, Rosval came to Italy to follow her training, and it’s here that a chance encounter led her into contact with Massimo Bottura.
The epiphany-like moment led to a radical change in Rosval’s culinary perceptions, and led her to undertake a few days of experimenting with the Italian food temple.
Of course, those few days eventually became years, and following a distinguished career as Chef de Partie at Bottura’s Osteria Francescana, Rosval was asked to personally undertake the role of directing and managing the prestigious Casa Maria Luigia.
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ROSVAL’S IMPACT ON CASA MARIA LUIGIA
Rosval has fortunately been able to express a great amount of creativity and innovation during her experience with Casa Maria Luigia, particularly during the restaurant’s Sunday Brunch meal. Here, Rosval expresses her entirely unique version of a classic dish, called Bread, Butter, and…
In Rosval’s interpretation, we see Rosval connect the dots with a smoked oyster selection. Different approaches from country to country for this classic dish, Rosval’s method presents marinated oysters, as well as a wine vinegar-aged oyster served with fresh horseradish. A most unusually, wildly-unique approach to a time-worn favorite.
SINGING ROSVAL’S MULTIPLE PRAISES
Lest we forget, Rosval is also a master at multi-tasking in the kitchen, handling stovetops, ovens, direct burners and smokers. This uncanny ability to visualize the end result from a variety of different approaches makes her a champion in a niche field generally dominated by men. The passion, talent, and willpower that Jessica contains and puts to good use, as well as her individual touch of genius loci make her North American roots all the more evident.
ROSVAL AND THE NEED TO BE ACTIVE SOCIALLY
Jessica can certainly be considered to be on the front lines active social justice. Her role as Culinary Director of the Association for the Integration of Women, lets her implement the organization’s mission to "provide women with the resources they need to put down roots and flourish." As her role as Culinary Director, Jessica shares her technical, culinary knowledge with women coming from all corners of the world. But it’s not just a one-way road - the women Jessica works with in turn contribute to the learning process by enriching Jessica’s kitchen with their own ethnic nuances and traditions.
The women are able to integrate into contemporary Italian and European culture with greater ease. Jessica finds this role and activity to be a source of continuous discovery. This melting pot of cultures will find further progress in the shape of a Modena-based restaurant that will be open to the public shortly.
But not all Italians love the dishes proposed by their favorite chefs. Let's see how osterias and trattorias are promoting interesting and untraditional cuisine. Read now Modified Italian Cooking that Makes Italians "Mad at Food" and see how you too fit into this trend.
Jessica lives both her professional and socially active world as a sort of virtuous (instead of vicious) cycle. Rosval has recognized that the ability that Massimo Bottura, Jessica’s mentor, had to recognize her talent could be applied to the women Jessica teaches. Perhaps in the field of women learning Jessica’s craft, a new star will emerge to become the fêted star of the culinary world tomorrow.
By paying it forward, Jessica is carrying on the noble tradition of recognizing her roots, and giving back to the community of women eager to make their own mark in the contemporary world of haute cuisine - a goal that will ultimately lead to a more level playing field and further representation for women in a world accustomed to the male presence, but more ready than they might think for a change of scenery.
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