Inspirational Quotes from Female Chefs for International Women's Day

Inspirational Quotes from Female Chefs for International Women_s Day

International Women's Day is a great chance to celebrate the achievements of a huge segment of different societies all over the world. In particular, it gives us a wonderful opportunity to focus on some of the strides women have made in various professional industries around the globe. The hospitality business is one such place, and the chefs who make excellent meals into true dining experiences are big parts of how these services work. While the number of female chefs at high-end restaurants is growing, it is still a field that men seem to dominate. This is particularly true outside of pastries or baking.

Rising to a level that gets you a head chef position or Michelin star can be a long, painstaking process. In honor of International Women's Day, we’ve put together some of the most inspirational quotes from female chefs working in the hospitality business. We’ve included some quotes from chefs, both past and present, and we’ll dissect some of their words for possible meanings or intent that may inspire future generations. Before diving in, you can check out our next section for a brief overview of how International Women's Day started.

History of International Women's Day

Although the holiday did not start alongside it, Women’s Day has some history that connects it to the early suffrage movement of centuries past. With issues such as women’s rights, autonomy, and mental health already gaining some traction, an early version of this holiday may have formed at some point in the early years of the 18th century. There was no specific date for International Women's Day at this time, but there were demonstrations in favor of women around the globe for several years.

One of the turning points appears to be the suffrage movement in Soviet-era Russia around 1917. Once advocates for women's rights won some battles here, International Women's Day got its first official date as a holiday in March of that year. People around the world have continued this tradition on this day ever since. While IWD spent decades as a somewhat niche holiday that only certain political movements or parties might celebrate, the 1960s saw an expansion of the ideas within the suffrage movement, opening these celebrations to a wider audience across the globe.

Once the United Nations adopted the holiday officially in 1977, people in various countries became more aware of IWD in many countries. For some societies, it is now a public holiday that focuses on the awareness of both women’s achievements and continued struggles. Even in countries that don’t recognize it as a national holiday, many groups observe Women’s Day in their own styles at a more local level. In modern times, some corporations will also spread awareness of IWD and the strides of women throughout history.

Read also: The Role of J-1 Hospitality Sponsors in Supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

International Women's Day Quotes

You can find quotes with ties to International Women's Day across the internet, but we’ll spotlight chefs and hardworking women throughout the hospitality business. Our list may not be comprehensive, but we’ve chosen a range of quotes that stand out to us as emblematic of some of the themes that International Women's Day holds up as examples of female strength.

1. Gail Simmons on Female Chefs and Pregnancy

Although not a chef herself, Gail Simmons is a respected food journalist and critic. She has also lent her expertise to various iterations of the Top Chef cooking show franchise. In an interview, Simmons said that the head chef impressed her by “working on the line while eight months pregnant.” While Simmons also acknowledges that not everyone can do this, it highlights a struggle unique to women in this field. It also reminds us that cooking and serving food nightly to an array of guests is a very physically demanding job. Cooking creative dishes to perfection is certainly mentally taxing, but so is running the kitchen.

2. “It’s more of a stigma” –Bonny Porter

This partial quote may not seem inspirational at first, but it has a deeper meaning as we dig into the words of Bonny Porter. Porter is the youngest finalist on MasterChef Australia: The Professionals. In her experience, there is an almost unspoken rule that a female chef is going to have to work harder than her male colleagues to prove her worth in the kitchen. Although Porter does say that most of her experience in kitchens has led her to the belief that “being a woman has not been an issue”, she does feel some pressure to perform at a higher level. Perhaps some of this pressure is internal, and a greater understanding of and focus on women’s issues thanks to IWD could help alleviate it.

3. “The fun bit is being on the stove” –Margot Henderson

This quote encapsulates one of the major views of chef and author Margot Henderson. Briefly, Henderson says that there may be a big push in certain businesses to put female chefs firmly in the pastry section of any kitchen. While Henderson admits that this is an excellent discipline to learn all on its own, she also wants women to try to get on what she calls “the meat side” of things. In being at the stove, she feels that women can break a crucial stereotype about their place in professional kitchens.

4. “The perfect kitchen has a mix of guys and girls in it.” — Emily Dobbs

Chef Emily Dobbs feels that both men and women bring a good balance to any professional kitchen. In her estimation, some women working in kitchens can calm down an otherwise tense atmosphere that could lead to mistakes on orders. With men, Dobbs feels that some of them she has seen in the kitchens are great for picking up the pace during rush time. While this certainly isn’t something you could apply to every man or woman working as a chef today, it highlights the balance each might bring to the other.

5. “You learn very quickly that it’s all about the people” –Joanne Chang

This quote from restaurateur Joanne Chang dives deeper into just how much it can take to succeed as a female chef in the business of hospitality. For Chang, working harder to make your mark as a woman in this field may be true, but so is every other aspect of the kitchen. She notes that finding, training, and maintaining great staff to make a restaurant successful can be just as challenging as cooking any dish. The restaurant world is as dependent on its human relations as it is on good food. Being a versatile female chef may be one key to success.

6. “Chefs don’t make mistakes; they make new dishes.” –Elizabeth Briggs

We could give this advice to male or female chefs, but it comes from a woman who is paving her own way in the hospitality industry. Although there are certainly right and wrong ways to make any signature dish, this quote from Briggs could inspire novice chefs to be bold in the kitchen and unafraid of adding tweaks to recipes. Even if such changes are not intentional, they could bring surprisingly positive results.

7. “It doesn’t feel like work.” –Emily Barrett

Many of us may get advice about doing what we love, but you can indeed turn a cherished hobby into professional ambition. For Emily Barrett, cooking doesn’t feel like work at all, though she does note that being the boss of an entire kitchen does have its own cost. There are many logistical aspects any chef has to consider in order to keep a restaurant going, but Barrett says that fostering this intense drive to succeed is a good thing.

8. “My education is never over.” –Anne Burrell

Chef Burrell cites continued learning as an adult as one of the three main reasons she got into professional cooking. She’s a big believer in learning something new all the time, and the fast pace of a kitchen might be a good place to do this. Tweaking or making various new dishes is one way to learn new skills and push the envelope in the culinary world simultaneously.


While we should celebrate each other’s achievements of women as much as possible, International Women’s Day represents the perfect time to take a closer look at the struggles and successes of women in the culinary world. Female chefs, both past and present, have been a constant source of inspiration to many women hoping to work in kitchens professionally. We hope that this holiday continues to be one that can guide future generations of women across the world.

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