Mariona Fidalgo began her career by studying an intermediate degree in patisserie at the Girona School of Hospitality and Tourism and doing work experience at the Sweets by Abraham Balaguer patisserie and at the Chocolate Academy in Vic. Her restlessness and desire to learn led her to complete her training with renowned chefs such as Miquel Guarro and Enric Rovira, and to help Pepe Isla prepare for the World Chocolate Masters. In 2016 she joined Jordi Bordas' team, where she works as a pastry chef and in the R&D department.
Fidalgo is one of the ten contenders to win the title of Best Master Artisan Pastry Chef of Spain (MMAPE) 2022 next February at InterSICOP.
1.- How has the role of women in pastry-making evolved over the last 10 years?
I think there has been an evolution, but there is still a long way to go before women confectioners have the same visibility as men confectioners in the gastronomic world. There are more and more women who stand out for their creations, and social networks have been a good way of making themselves known and a very important means of demonstrating their magnificent work.
I also believe that there are more and more women who want to dedicate themselves to patisserie, and I see this every day in the Jordi Bordas Classroom. The reality is that, right now, 90% of the pastry chefs who come to do their internships are women. I am thrilled to be able to witness how they all struggle to make their way in this profession.
It is a long and complicated road, but there is strength in numbers, and I believe that the day will come when we will have the same opportunities as men.
2.- What are the challenges facing women in the sector?
I have been lucky enough to work with professionals who value you for your talent and your commitment, regardless of your gender. As it should be.
In this sense, I think my personal challenge is to better myself every day and to learn as much as I can from the people I work with. However, I think the first challenge we face as a collective is to get into more senior positions, because for some positions you are not even considered if you are a woman.
Another challenge we have to overcome is the work pressure we are under. Unfortunately, in this sector we have to constantly prove that we are just as capable as men and that we have the same skills.
And finally, the biggest challenge is to start your own business as a woman. In 2018, of the 195 Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, only 10% were run by women. More and more brave women are venturing into the gastronomic sector, and in my opinion, they should be given more support to continue doing so and thus balance the statistics.
3.- Do you think there are equal opportunities (salaries, positions of responsibility, recognition...) for women and men?
I think you only have to browse the social networks or visit some bakeries to realise that male pastry chefs have more opportunities than female pastry chefs.
But this is not just an opinion. If we Google recent news about cases of discrimination in the workplace for being a woman, we can see that the wage gap exists in Spain in 2021. Just a few months ago, the Labour Inspectorate of the Generalitat sanctioned a company in the hotel sector that discriminated against women workers by paying them 39.32% less in the same professional category of kitchen assistants. This must stop now.
4.- Do you think that there is little presence of women at pastry congresses and events, and in competitions? What action could be taken to combat the invisibility of women?
In this respect, we can see that event featuring women confectioners are practically non-existent. Whenever I attend a pastry event or watch a competition on TV, I get discouraged because 80% of the participants are men.
Personally, when I signed up for the MMAPE I didn't know who was going to participate. So, when I applied there and found out that there were only male pastry chefs, I was upset.
And when I found out that there was another woman participating, the first thing I did was send her a message on Instagram to encourage her and tell her that I was really happy that I wasn't the only female pastry chef.
I firmly believe that it is our job as women confectioners to stick together, to support and help each other. Only by fighting together daily will we be able to change the world of patisserie a little.
5.- What percentage of the Jordi Bordas staff are women? Are there specific positions for women or men?
The truth is that at Aula Jordi Bordas almost all of us are women.
I feel especially happy in my work environment. I think it is very positive to work in a place where women can occupy any position: administrators, pastry chefs, assistants, teachers, managers, communicators, translators, creators, video editors, etc.
The truth is that we are a great team. Marta, Adrianna, Puri, Inés, Maria, Adela, Paula, Ariadna and Julia, together with Jordi and Ramón. For me, we form the dream team, and this is reflected in the quantity, but above all in the quality of our work.
6.- What recommendations would you give to students who want to dedicate themselves to this profession?
That if this is what they are really passionate about and they want to dedicate themselves to it, they should jump into the pool and not be afraid to try and do new things, because we are capable of everything and more.
7.- Have you experienced any situation of discrimination in your profession because you are a woman?
The truth is that I have always worked with great professionals and I have never felt discriminated against. But as I mentioned before, I have been lucky. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues have suffered discrimination.