Dining With Denise Neil

Local chef apologizes for social media posts about feminism

Chef Jason Febres stirred up controversy on social media with posts on Friday – posts he said were misunderstood.
Chef Jason Febres stirred up controversy on social media with posts on Friday – posts he said were misunderstood. Courtesy image

A well-known Wichita chef has drawn the online ire of dozens of Wichitans after Facebook and Twitter posts over the weekend that critics say were sexist but that he says were misunderstood.

Chef Jason Febres, who is an owner of Taste and See at 255 N. Washington and who also has appeared on several national cooking shows, published his controversial post on both his personal Facebook page and Twitter account late Friday night.

“Feminism is a byproduct of a lack of real men ....... yup I just said that!” he posted, adding an emoji reflecting a fist bump.

Over the weekend, the posts were noticed by several Wichtians, who shared and reshared Febres’ post with their friends, asking them to reconsider dining at his restaurant.

After the criticism, Febres quickly deleted his post from his personal Facebook page, though the original post remains on his Twitter account, @chefjasonfebres.

Contacted on Monday morning, Febres said he had misspoken and that the people who were offended had misunderstood him.

Later on Monday, he clarified his position with a new post, which included an apology.

“Right upfront I want to apologize to the people that took this in the wrong way,” he wrote. “I was trying to post something pro women.”

Febres, who was born in Venezuela and whose first language is Spanish, said he misunderstood the definition of “feminism” and after he was criticized, he looked up the definition and realized he hadn’t said what he meant.

He said he had been speaking with female servers at his restaurant about their struggles and decided that if men would fulfill their roles in relationships, women would not have to work so hard. He said his mother raised him and his siblings mostly on her own, that she works with him in his restaurant and that he respects women.

“Truth is, back home, we use that word very loosely to define women that are kinda against guys or don’t seem to need them because they don’t trust men or just had to assume the whole mom and dad role because of the men are slacking on what they supposed to do,” he said in his online apology.

But some of the people who responded to Febres – some of whom were calling for a boycott of his restaurants – said their original concerns stood.

Andy McGinnis was one of the first people to share Febres’ post and her concerns. She didn’t call for a boycott of his restaurant but instead asked women to consider patronizing female-owned restaurants in Wichita, several of which were then named.

“I didn’t share this on my own page to shame someone or start an internet mob or boycott or any such thing,” McGinnis said. “I genuinely care about what kind of world we live in, and to me, that means speaking up for equality, opportunity and justice for all. I prefer to support businesses that do the same. I was seeking to find true feminist restaurants to support.”

McGinnis said the apology sounded defensive and that she wished Febres would have been clearer about the meaning behind his post before he posted it.

“I hope he considers why so many folks would be upset with his words and that he uses this as an opportunity for growth,” she said. “We all could use a bit more reflection in our lives if we truly want to live in a better world.”

Febres said he made a mistake that he does not intend to repeat. His apology on his personal Facebook page received several messages of support.

“People make mistakes,” Febres said. “I’m going to be so much more careful from here what I post on Facebook.”

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil