Queers in the Kitchen

From the looks of Bravo and the Food Network, gay and lesbian chefs are ubiquitous. But big-name LGBT cooks say they’re still the minority — underpaid and underrepresented.



Magaret Cho


Feniger sits on the board of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and partners with and donates to several charities. She views her own life as a chance to effect change. Recalling neighborhood friends she and her partner, writer-director Liz Lachman, have made, Feniger fondly recounts a neighbor’s 80th birthday party, held at one of Feniger’s restaurants. The guest of honor insisted that Feniger and Lachman attend the party, and proudly introduced the couple to his conservative cohorts as “my new gay friends.”

“If you can make one person be a little bit more aware and open, that’s a big step,” Feniger says.

Pura is also doing what he can to make a difference, especially for LGBT youth. He partners with the Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project and filmed his own video contribution to the It Gets Better Project. As a gay person of color who emigrated from Ankara, Turkey, at the age of 12, Pura says he was a target for bullies in high school.

“These things that I always thought made me different and weak — I’ve found that actually, in my adult life, those are the things that make me really strong and set me aside as an individual,” he says.

What’s more, the pressure on gay and lesbian chefs can actually drive them to succeed, Pura contends. “I think when you’re thrown into an environment like the culinary world, where you’re not accepted, you become a fighter,” Pura says. “So then you learn to achieve the highest level of goals. Maybe what is thrown in our face as a challenge makes us better chefs in the end.”