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Talent before gender

A woman of ideals: Manoella Buffara advocates for a world without gender discrimination.

An adoring granddaughter who counts her grandmother as one of her key influences in life. A mother to two little girls. It is little wonder that Manoella Buffara passionately fights for equal rights. But guess what, she is not a feminist.

She is an inspirational leader to a work family that is 50% female, but Manu doesn’t pick her team members based on their gender. “My kitchen is made up of people who have the same beliefs as I do,” she says simply.

Manu has never personally faced any kind of gender discrimination in her career. And she notes that there are many female chefs in Brazil and many opportunities for her countrywomen who want to pursue a career in the kitchen – but it is a new phenomenon. Naming former head chef at Brazil’s presidential palace and now owner of eponymous restaurant Roberta Sudbrack as one of the great Brazilian female chefs whom she looks up to, Manu says: “There are some great female chefs in Brazil and that number is always increasing - though men are still (in the foreground).”

Citing herself as an example, she says: “I’m outside the hubs of Rio and Sao Paulo, and the men are the ones with restaurants on the (award) lists – simply because it’s difficult to get people to go to other cities outside Rio and Sao Paulo.”

Yet things are about to change with Miele’s recognition of her work – and it is hard work, by Manu’s own admission. “It’s a difficult career, hard work, but it’s very worthwhile. You have to have a lot of focus, dedication, creativity and you’ve really got to love what you do,” says Manu. And these challenges she highlights to any women aspiring to become a career chef – because being given equal opportunities means everybody has to work equally hard. “I fight for equal rights because I have two daughters and I want a better world, but nothing is going to fall on their laps – we must chase our goals.”

Manu Buffara and Miele are sharing the same understanding of equality and diversity. Rather than fulfill artificial female quotas, the company constantly works on bettering their support for female talent – be it through equal remunerations or flexible work schemes that allow for a better balance between family and professional commitments. Such initiatives are far-reaching in impact, for the women benefitting from it now stand as inspiring examples to their children: shining examples that everybody, regardless of gender, has the right to develop their talent and pursue their dreams.