This piece is one in a series about unapologetic women whose hair makes a statement. Follow their stories here.
When Caroline Schiff graduated from university in Europe and moved back to her native New York City, she thought she wanted to go into fashion. When she found that her heart wasn’t ultimately in clothing, she turned to a love that she had nurtured her entire life: food. She had always been a constant hostess of elaborate dinner parties, and was known to bake birthday cakes for friends as far back as elementary school. So without any formal training, she thought, “Why not?”
Without any restaurant experience at all, Schiff had only her enthusiasm to offer as she sought opportunities in New York kitchens. She went from doing the worst kitchen tasks, like cutting onions and peeling beets (without pay) to slinging cheese at a Brooklyn cheese shop to, eventually, learning the craft of the soufflé. With the help of mentors who were willing to take a chance on her passion, Schiff worked her way up through the Brooklyn restaurant scene. When her former boss at the cheese shop called and said they were expanding to open an ice cream shop, Schiff knew she’d found her next move.
Now as the the executive pastry chef for Scoops & Sweets in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Schiff spends her day making sweets and new flavors of ice cream, while learning the business of managing a shop on her own. Not that it’s an easy feat: Working in a male-dominated industry with a “macho mentality” is a challenge for any female chef. And Schiff, who considers her hair to be her “statement piece” that she wears everyday and values her femininity, has made it her mission to challenge the expectations and stereotypes of women in restaurant kitchens, especially by encouraging more women to level out the playing field.
Nowadays you can find Schiff whipping up a cake or training for her next marathon, all documented on her drool-worthy Instagram, with her wild hair pulled back and probably with a little frosting lingering on her outfit.
About the Director
Riley Hooper is a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. Her award-winning short docs have screened at festivals across the US and internationally, and have appeared on The New York Times — as part of their Op Doc and Made with Kickstarter series — as well as Vimeo Staff Picks, Short of the Week, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. Riley freelances as a director and editor and is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.
Riley on Caroline:
“The way Caroline talks about being a female chef in the male-dominated restaurant industry deeply resonates with me as a female director in the male-dominated film industry."