All of my ladies out there who read this newsletter are probably familiar with the food blog “Half Baked Harvest.” Tieghan Gerard, the thirty-year-old founder and owner of the blog, has posted a cozy and delicious recipe nearly every single day since 2012, inspiring women everywhere to dust off their crockpots and grease their baking pans. Fellas, if the woman in your life suddenly decided to try her hand at pumpkin cinnamon rolls or made white chicken chili for game day, there’s a good chance she snagged the recipe from Half Baked Harvest.
Gerard has millions of loyal followers and naturally this has led to criticism from bitter, jealous losers. The New York Times recently managed to snag an interview with Gerard (no, Tieghan, run!) and used it as an excuse to rehash allegations that Gerard doesn’t deserve her success: “Ms. Gerard has also become an unwilling lightning rod for controversy, entangled in issues that have galvanized the food world in the last decade: cultural appropriation, intellectual property, body shaming, privilege and racism.”
Sigh. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Sure enough, Gerard, who lives in Colorado with her parents and seven siblings, has apparently come under fire for “mispronouncing” the names of ethnic dishes, labeling recipes with meat and pineapple together as “Hawaiian” (obviously a reference to Hawaiian pizza) and saying that a sesame ginger noodle dish was “inspired” by pho. These seem like non-controversies to me, but I’m sure Gerard’s critics would dismiss my opinion because I am also white. Gerard has acknowledged that she is not a particularly worldly foodie — she apparently suffers from severe anxiety that keeps her at home, one of the reasons she started cooking and developing her blog — but has nothing but respect for other cultures.
An included quote from food writer Hannah Selinger, who is also white, unintentionally reveals that critiques of Gerard are not rooted in real concern that she is appropriating other cultures, but in basic jealousy: “Why does she get a seat at the table when there are so many people who actually know this stuff?” In short, why does Gerard get to be mega-famous while my friends and I don’t?
The NYT also acknowledges that Gerard’s critics have become obsessed with tracking how many people show up to her events and, even more monstrously, speculating that she has an eating disorder and constantly monitoring her weight and skin. Gerard’s mother helpfully pointed out that overweight women are not scrutinized by the media for their alleged food issues, which is true, because those women are celebrated for their bravery. Interestingly, many of the comments I found accusing Gerard of the eating disorder seemed also to come direct from the green-eyed monster; they wondered how Gerard even eats the cheese and fat-laden dishes she posts on her website without gaining weight. I suppose the idea that she exercises portion control or doesn’t eat heavy food for every single meal apparently never crossed their minds. These commenters shroud their critiques in concern for Gerard — really it’s just bullying.
Unfortunately, Gerard is not the only white woman in the food world who has become the subject of online scrutiny. An Australian woman known as “Sushi Sheila” was publicly humiliated by Puerto Rican chef and restaurateur Eric Rivera for daring to open an Aussie-style sushi restaurant in New York City. Rivera called Sushi Sheila a “colonizer” for trying to profit off of Japanese food as a white woman and urged his followers to pile on with hate. They obliged, flooding the restaurant’s page with one-star reviews and commenting all kinds of nastiness on Sushi Sheila’s social media accounts. Ironically, Rivera plans to open a Puerto Rican-Japanese fusion restaurant, so apparently it’s fine when he borrows from other cultures. Perhaps like Gerard’s critics, he is just jealous that Sushi Sheila was able to open a cute little restaurant in NYC, which appears to be doing well despite his attempts at sabotage.
These recent negative stories from the food world also reminded me of past years where media outlets negged “basic” women who like to wear cozy fall outfits and visit the pumpkin patch with their significant others, and even insisted that “pumpkin spice” flavored-items are a form of cultural appropriation. The smiling white women in their oversized scarfs and knee-high boots were refashioned as virulent racists who wouldn’t allow a black woman into their sorority.
Why do online leftists and the mainstream media seem so willing to tear down women who seem happy or successful? The easy answer is that racism toward white people is the only acceptable form of it in modern society, thanks to the left’s efforts to redefine “racism” as power-plus-prejudice. If we dig a little deeper, the concept of “white privilege” seems to be another likely culprit. It suggests that white women are simply handed success without having to earn it, which helps explain why there is so much bitterness toward Gerard and Sushi Sheila. Even though Gerard cooks for her large family and has relentlessly managed her blog since she was nineteen, and even though TikTok videos show Sushi Sheila DIY-ing the entire inside of her new restaurant, their critics still seem to believe that these women cannot possibly be deserving of their success. It’s perhaps easier for them to believe that they are victims of Gerard and Sushi Sheila taking opportunities away from minorities, rather than accepting that their own product or work ethic is simply not as good.
A final reflection on this: there are a lot of self-hating white women who seek to appease the leftists who despise them. White feminists cry that their demographic is not “intersectional” enough, female Democrats accuse women who vote Republican of having internalized misogyny and many white women like to get offended on other cultures’ behalf when they believe they’ve spotted a form of cultural appropriation. Gerard and Sushi Sheila, comparatively, have not backed down to the mob. It surely enrages the miserable left that there are thriving white women out there whom they cannot control.