Connecticut is full of trailblazing women, particularly in the culinary world. Our ongoing column, “It’s A Woman’s World’ is devoted to CT female influencers who’ve forged their own paths, often in food-related fields long dominated by men.
Whether farming the land, bringing healthy food to the masses, feeding an entrepreneurial spirit or injecting feminism with food, these groundbreaking ladies have set a new definition of women’s work, creating new paths and setting examples for those who follow.
How’d they do it? Read on. This week, we speak with Chef Fran Medina of Rio Salado Mexican Restaurant in Mystic. Stay tuned to see who’s next. And feel free to send suggestions for your candidates to [email protected].
Why are you a pioneer?
I think any woman that wants to work in a kitchen is a pioneer. Unfortunately, this industry is dominated by men, but women are rapidly changing that. Irony comes to my mind when I think of men dominating the foodservice industry. When you reminisce of your childhood and all the delicious food at your kitchen table, it is almost always your mother that drives that memory. Women have been cooking for their families for decades, and somewhere in there, men took the reins. Women have most definitely taken the reins back.
How have you navigated what is typically known to be a male-dominated industry?
I try not to think about this being a male-dominated industry, because I don’t think it really is anymore. That being said, I work with an incredible group of people that support and encourage me to grow as a Chef. I’m learned from some phenomenal chefs and I’m happy to pass that knowledge on to Rio Salado and help create an all-around exceptional dining experience.
What are you looking forward to accomplishing this year?
Rio Salado is in the process of opening a Taqueria, and I’m super excited to be creating another great dining experience for people. I’m also looking forward to a little bit of normalcy this year. Covid has changed every part of the restaurant industry and I look forward to the day in the near future that they return to normal again.