Martha Stewart and Christina Tosi Go Back To School At Cherry Bombe University

Food & Drink

Christina Tosi and Martha Stewart received “honorary doctorates” from Cherry Bombe UniversityCherry Bombe, Instagram

It’s oft been said that this is a cultural moment of reckoning. In 2018, we’re seeing the rise of authoritarian ideas, political extremism, and so many mass shootings that the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history this weekend felt like it was barely a blip on the tragedy-radar.

So it’s a comfort that this moment of cultural reckoning is also ushering in extraordinary positive change. In the food world, some of that change is being championed by the joyfully disruptive feminist food magazine Cherry Bombe. Founded by food writer and entrepreneur Kerry Diamond, the defiantly print-only magazine is a direct response to the male-dominated narratives that overwhelm the food world. Cherry Bombe’s cover has featured everyone from Padma Lakshi to Ruth Reichl to Chrissy Teigen, and the magazine is at the forefront of the #MeToo conversation – there’s even an anti-harassment poster you can download from its website.

Some recent Cherry Bombe covers. Left to right: Chrissy Teigen, Padma Lakshmi, and Martha StewartCherry Bombe

In an effort to keep the female food conversation going IRL, if you will, this past weekend Cherry Bombe held its first educational event, Cherry Bombe University, at Food and Finance High School in Manhattan. And they started it off with an appropriate bang by offering culinary titans Martha Stewart and Christina Tosi “honorary doctorates” and honoring social entrepreneur Jessamyn Rodriguez for her work with Hot Bread Kitchen.

My schedule has been unpredictable recently, and while I unexpectedly found myself unable to attend the rest of the amazingly informative weekend of classes, what little I saw last Friday night in a high school auditorium was pretty inspiring. I may have missed useful tips and tricks about everything from how to get a cookbook deal or write a business plan to being a chocolate and coffee snob, but simply being at an assembly of this magnitude for one night was pretty profound.

The Cherry Bombe University CrestCherry Bombe, Instagram

As I found my seat, I realized that there was a group of those high schoolers sitting behind me. They gossiped together about the night ahead, and could not have cared less about seeing Martha Stewart. But Christina Tosi was a whole other ballgame. It was pretty wild to hear 15-year-olds getting so excited about hearing a pastry chef speak, gossiping and saying things like, “She’s famous, you know.” As the program began, I was reminded of why they were so fired up.

Women are not allowed to talk about food. That may sound ridiculous, and ok, it’s a big statement. But knowing and caring about food is something that is expected of us. When men are excited about what they eat, it’s considered artistic and amazing.  But women are expected to be good cooks, so it’s easy to undervalue the women who are actually interested in food.

From left: Christina Tosi, Kerry Diamond, and Martha Stewart at Cherry Bombe University@bakerjacq, Instagram

One of those undervalued women is, almost inconceivably, Martha Stewart. She’s famous all right, but after she received her “Doctor of Domestic Arts” diploma, Christina Tosi interviewed her about her life, and I was amazed to hear what a go-getter she’d been since her teenage years. Even Tosi seemed surprised when she recapped some of Stewart’s early accomplishments back to her, “So, you’ve been a  model, a student, and a stockbroker at this point…” Stewart cut her off then, saying, “All by the time I was 24 years old.” After that, she had a kid, started a catering business because somehow that seemed like less work than stockbroking, and in 1982, she wrote the cookbook that started her bonafide empire.

Male entrepreneurs with the kind of platform Martha Stewart has are hailed as visionaries, but she’s often pigeonholed because she happened to get rich and famous doing things that women are expected to be good at.

As I said, I missed the rest of Cherry Bombe’s educational weekend. But I didn’t need to see much to know that Cherry Bombe is tapping into something important. Women are innovators in the food world. They always have been, but now they’re demanding to shine.

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