Table Stakes
Reader's Digest Canada|April 2021
How a Montreal chef created a safer workplace
Emily Landau

EMMA CARDARELLI’S first restaurant job was in the kitchen of a lodge in the Rockies. The year was 2000, and she was 22 years old. Although she quickly decided that she loved being a cook, she wasn’t a fan of everything else that came with working in a restaurant: earning less than minimum wage, having to choose between showing up sick or losing your job, and the rampant misogyny and bullying. She wasn’t alone. One 2014 report found that 90 per cent of female restaurant employees had experienced sexual harassment on the job.

Cardarelli is warm, friendly and unsentimental about the challenges she’s faced in her career. Even as she rose through the ranks at renowned restaurants in London and Montreal, she had to endure sexual innuendo and rebuff advances from her male co-workers. Once, when she severely burned her hand with hot oil, her boss wouldn’t allow her to leave her shift to get medical help.

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