International Women’s Month is in full swing, and many businesses and industries are taking the time to celebrate women. While the restaurant world is doing a better job of incorporating women into all roles across the industry, it’s still not common to see female powerhouses working as head chefs or restaurateurs. There is plenty of work to be done to remove stereotypes around women in the restaurant business, but at the same time, there’s a good deal of women setting the tone for gender equality in the industry. Take a look at these ten trailblazing female chefs and restaurateurs:
1. Dominique Crenn
Dominique Crenn is a chef from Versailles, France who is the only woman to hold 3 Michelin stars. Her award-winning restaurant is called Atelier Crenn, which is a luxurious San Francisco Bay establishment with a focus on fresh California produce. The restaurant boasts an extensive collection of curated wines that inspire guests to “reconnect with nature.” As of November of 2019, all of Crenn’s restaurants are now meat-free, prompting guests to explore the wonderful flavors that fish, fruits, and vegetables have to offer.
2. Ashley Christensen
Ashley Christensen has made her mark on the Raleigh, North Carolina restaurant scene. Christensen owns a handful of comfort food-inspired restaurants in the area with cuisines ranging from fried chicken and signature cocktails to her personal take on Neapolitan pizza. Her most recent project is a restaurant called Poole’side Pies, located next door to her first restaurant: Poole’s Diner. On top of her strides in Raleigh’s southern dining scene, Christensen has various philanthropic interests with a focus on a number of local and regional charities.
3. Helene An
Vietnamese cuisine may be all the buzz right now, but Helene An earns the title of owning the first restaurant of its kind in San Francisco during the 1980s. Her restaurant, Thanh Long, earned some die-hard fans back then and even won over various celebrities like Donald Glover and Robin Williams. Fast-forward a couple decades and An is still dominating the Vietnamese dining scene while quietly opening successful restaurants up and down the California coastline. An has kept a low profile over the years, but finally got some well-deserved recognition in May of 2019 when she was presented with the Smithsonian’s Pioneer Award in Culinary Arts.
4. Seng Luangrath
Seng Luangrath is a Northern-Virginia-based chef and an owner of multiple Lao and Thai restaurants in the area. Luangrath first immigrated to the U.S. after fleeing a refugee camp with her family in Thailand as a young girl. Since then, she has enriched the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. areas with her Thai and Lao cuisines. She is also the only Lao chef to be named a semi-finalist for James Beard’s “Best Chef: Mid Atlantic” Award in 2017 and 2018.
5. Rose Noel
Rose Noel is another female chef who is shaking up the D.C. dining scene. As a renowned chef in the NYC area, Noel decided to take her talents to the nation’s capital and bring her expertise to a new market. She recently opened Danny Meyer’s Maialino Mare in the busy Navy Yard neighborhood with hopes of delivering coastal Roman flavors to the area. Like its NYC sister restaurant – the original Maialino – the establishment has already shown great success.
6. Marcie Turney & Valerie Safran
Marcie Turney is a Philadelphia-based chef who owns six restaurants, two home shops, and a prepared food market in the area with her wife, Valerie Safran. She has been fighting for gender equality in the restaurant industry by hosting monthly meetings for women in the food industry to talk shop. Turney and Safran opened their first restaurant circa 2004 called Lolita in Philly’s red-light district, transforming the once run-down area into a bustling hotspot for foodies. Since then, the Mexican restaurant has undergone a complete renovation and the pair have officially named their restaurant group “Safran Turney Hospitality.”
7. Lidia Bastianich
Lidia Bastianich is a TV host, cookbook author, and restaurateur with a knack for Italian cooking and culture. Famous for her work on Eataly’s various locations, the partner of the successful Italian cuisine wonderland also has restaurants in multiple locations across the country. Her latest project, Eataly Los Angeles, offers fresh produce, cooking lessons, and Italian food that New Yorkers already hold close to their hearts.
8. Adrienne Cheatham
While Adrienne Cheatham may be known for her spot on Bravo’s “Top Chef”, the Chicago native is working hard to shift the stereotypes surrounding the food industry. Growing up, Cheatham noticed how women were rarely front and center as head chefs in the restaurants she worked at. With experience as a head chef at multiple restaurants, Cheatham has gained the knowledge and inspiration to create “SundayBest,” a pop-up dinner series held in secret locations across Harlem.
9. Allison Fasano
Allison Fasano explained to Total Food Service that her biggest inspiration since she was a kid has always been Rachel Ray. After following a linear path to cooking success, Fasano had the chance to propel her career into the spotlight with her appearance on “Beat Bobby Flay.” Cooking aside, one of Fasano’s biggest passions is the reduction of food waste. Her efforts to support the greater good behind the food industry were reflected in a TEDx Talk she presented in Long Island on how restaurants can prevent food waste and combat hunger.
10. Suzanne Cupps
Suzanne Cupps may have made history as the first female executive chef to work at a Danny Meyer restaurant, but her time at Untitled was just the beginning of her major impact on the restaurant industry. She recently decided that her next project had to revolve around fresh produce, and linked up with Dig Food Group to open 232 Bleecker. Her choice to change passion projects while remaining in New York City landed her the perfect role as head chef of Dig Food Group’s first-ever sit-down restaurant.