Are Italian Restaurants Sexist? Australian Influencer Sparks Debate

"My menu didn't have prices on it."

Are Italian Restaurants Sexist? Australian Influencer Sparks Debate

Image Credit: @abbiechatfield

Former bachelor star Abbie Chatfield is known for her “electric personality, unfiltered opinions and unfaltering confidence.” And boy did she bring all three to the fore during a recent trip to Italy.

The influencer/podcast host first sparked a moral panic by drinking at the main airport bar (rather than the business class lounge, to which she was entitled), a decision she said she made because the “vibes” were better, but which some Twitter users called privileged.

Then, in Venice, while staying in a hotel where her room apparently cost $15,000 a night, Chatfield wondered whether she could have got better food in Sydney.

“Lesson learnt from this trip: Rich people and ‘rich’ experiences are boring,” she wrote on one Instagram story.

“Just FYI. Get me to a gelato shop stat.”

She came to this conclusion after jokingly asking her followers if they thought the food she was eating at a luxurious restaurant in Venice was as good as Tottis, an (admittedly, very nice) Italian restaurant in Bondi.

It also came after she noticed her menu didn’t have prices on it, while her partner’s menu did.

“So we’re at the boujee restaurant and my menu didn’t have prices on it,” Chatfield said.

“I was like f**k – I’m the breadwinner. The patriarchy strikes again.”

She then asked her partner, Konrad Bien-Stephen: “This or Tottis?”

“Did it have burrata?” says Bien-Stephens.

“No, so Tottis,” replied Chatfield.

Her complaints prompted backlash from some on Twitter. One wrote: “Just own it! This is not a ‘haha I’m so relatable’ thing.”

Some suggested she was acting spoilt…

… while others said those upset about it ought to get a life.

Chatfield isn’t the only one who’s had this experience (with the menus). Argentinian-born blogger Agustina Gandolfo went viral after talking about it happening to her at a fancy Milan restaurant with her boyfriend, footballer Lautaro Martinez.

Gandolfo’s complaint sparked debate online and even in Italian newspapers about the ‘blind menu’ concept, which many people believe to be outdated.

“If there is a couple at table we have the habit of giving the blind menu to the woman. It is not discrimination but a form of gallantry,’ Rossella Cerea, a manager at a three Michelin-starred restaurant, told La Repubblica.

On the other hand, another restauranteur told The Times the concept was outdated, saying: “We are in 2021 and it is not possible to believe that a woman will not pay at a restaurant. And even if she doesn’t pay, why shouldn’t she know the prices of the meals?”

In other news, Chatfield eventually found some burrata in the end, while out and about in Venice.

Images via Instagram

Her experience in the hotel restaurant, though, raises an interesting travel question: how staunchly should you hold your own values when you flit across the globe?

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The question is made even trickier by the fact that, within cultures, different people have different values. There are generational (and all sorts of other) divides and disagreements about how much tradition is “good” or worth holding onto (as this “sexist statue” in southern Italy showed last year).

Also, as one social media user pointed out, it’s not just in Italy this can happen. Apparently, it’s a thing in some Sydney places too (“this happened to me at Prime in Sydney less than three years ago,” the TikTok user wrote. “It happens at a lot of boujee places and I ALWAYS mention it and make it uncomfortable.”).

Food for thought.

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