From time immemorial, men, in a typical African society, are known for taking tougher jobs due to the responsibility they are saddled with, while women take the less tough jobs like subsistence farming, cooking, and laundry work. However, the tune seems to have changed, as a good number of men are now treading where women are supposed to be. They are now seen dominating the centre stage of women’s job role like catering, hair-making, frying bean-cake e.t.c. Emmanuella Lekwauwa writes
The rising unemployment rate, perhaps forced many men, mostly graduates to embrace different vocations aside white-collar jobs. They now venture into vocations that were aforetime presumed as female jobs.
One of such men is an executive chef of a hotel, located somewhere in Ikeja, Mr. Raymond Alabi.
Alabi, who moved into catering due to his passion for cooking, said he studied Sociology at the university and later enrolled into a catering school to acquire the needed skill. He averred that his passion for cooking led him to the hospitality industry since 1989 even before he enrolled to study Sociology. “As matter of fact, I have gone through all kinds of training in hotel management. I am also a hotel consultant and manager. I know that the job of a chef goes beyond mere cooking. It involves knowledge of continental and local dishes, and being good administrator who can manage the kitchen.”
He described catering business in Nigeria as lucrative, that the only shortcoming he had discovered in his career was the difficulty he had in convincing big companies to award contracts to male caterers, “However, my clients have since become convinced of my capability because of the quality of my services and cooking skill,” he said.
Alabi asserted that men are now taking over the chef works in most Lagos hotels. This is because, “men have more energy and time than their female counterparts. And this is because women have more demands, beginning from the home front.”
Another male caterer, Mr Oluwasesan Olaibo, who works with a catering firm in Onipanu, area of Lagos state, for almost a year now, said that most aspects of catering service deal with a lot of cooking and requires a lot of energy. Before now, Olaibo had been into screen-printing for seven years, but later opted out of that business because of low turnout of customers and poor income.
Speaking on what led him into the trade, he said that he went into catering because of finance. He averred that he had not really wanted catering as a profession but after his Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in 2014 he went into catering to raise money to obtain the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) form and to sponsor himself in the higher institution.
Another caterer at Ibile Foods and lounge, Ilupeju bypass, Lagos, who simply identified himself as James, said that men going into catering business tend to do so carefully to avoid refusal of which could lead to loss of customers.
“As a caterer, who has been privileged to work in various organizations, I had to learn how to prepare local and continental dishes of different tribes and countries. This makes one exceptional in the business.”
He stated that most organizations employ male caterers based on their house policy and previous experiences with female caterers though; there is the challenge of getting clients convinced on the efficiency of male caterers.
James said that he realized the lucrative aspect of the business while working at a hotel where he discovered that only men were allowed to do the cooking, while ladies serve drinks and attend to customers.
Smiling, he said: “Men are putting more time into catering than women. When you go to restaurants, you will notice that ladies like it when men attend to them. Most ladies used to beckon on me serve.”
Another caterer, Mr. Tobi Davis, who works at a branch of Sweet Sensation, a popular eatery had been into catering business for four years. He disclosed that he ventured into catering business because of his keen interest in cooking. Davis said: ‘It amazes people when they see how well a male caterer handles cooking. People are eager to see how well a man can cook and bake pastries, amongst others.” Davis said that before now, when it comes to catering and other skills, people always look at the direction of women. He said that things have since changed in the 21st century. He said that men joined the moving train and were performing beyond expectations. “Not all women can make sausage rolls. In preparing snacks, men take the prize because of the difficulty involved in handling the machine.”
He complained that the socio-economic situation in Nigeria was influencing negatively on catering business and urged the government to encourage male caterers. He said that there are set of young people who are motivated by what is happening in the catering industry. “The most important thing is interest. For instance, not all graduates would be opportune to work with his/her certificate.”
Another caterer, Mr. Kenneth Agbamuche, working with Sweet Sensation, around Ketu/Ikosi area of Lagos, believes that catering has a lot to do with passion and claims that men are the best in whatever profession. He described himself as coming from a family of caterers. According to Agbamuche, he had been into catering business for 18 years and still counting. He learnt the trade from his late mother, because of his interest in the trade. “Besides, my elder brother is a chef at Eko Hotel, while my two other siblings are also caterers in other reputable companies. Passion is what brings out the best in a thing. Without it, you will not be able to accomplish your mission. Catering job is sensitive. It’s like hospitality in the sense that you are giving out life to people. It’s all about food and it has to be tasty.”
He stated further that if he had his own restaurant, he will employ male caterers who will assist in serving the guests. According to him, many men are working in big hotels, than eateries and fast food joints. This is because the way the fast food joints operate is different from the hotel. The male professionals are better than the female in the area of cooking.
Mr. Amadi Uche, who works with catering firm, shared his experience in the field. He said that having worked with the catering firm for more than four years; he had come to understand that catering is something young men can venture into because it is something that gives the opportunity to do other things. According to him, “catering goes beyond preparing local dishes because one has to also learn how to prepare other meals. In catering business, men are preferred because they are focused and disciplined. And when it comes to working, they are not easily distracted.”
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