More and more restaurants around the world are recognizing female chefs for their talent and skills. Not only do they know how to rock out popular dishes and come up with new recipes on the fly, but they run their own restaurants that have lines forming around the block. Check out some of the top female chefs worldwide on the culinary scene right now.
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Most Influential Female Chefs and Restaurateurs
Lynch lives and works in Boston, where she operates several restaurants. Named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People of the Year in 2017 by TIME Magazine, she is also the only woman with a Grand Chef title from Relais & Châteaux.
Mary Sue Milliken
Known for many years as one of the Two Hot Tamales, Milliken attended the Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute in Chicago. The chef often competes on television shows such as Top Chef Masters and won the Julia Child Award in 2018.
The other half of the Two Hot Tamales, Feniger is a published cookbook author who often appears on television. The California Restaurant Association gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Many people know Bastianich as the mother of chef and restaurant owner Joe Bastianich, but she also ranks as one of the world's leading chefs. The owner of three restaurants and author of more than 10 cookbooks, she focuses on classic Italian and American cooking.
Giada De Laurentiis
De Laurentiis is an award-winning chef, TV personality, and cookbook author known for her love of Italian cooking. Her commitment to the restaurant industry helped her land a spot on the list of the 100 Most Powerful People in the Hospitality Industry. She also won a Daytime Emmy Award.
Famous in Toronto and throughout the world, Regular whips up Thai dishes that get mouths watering. Regular worked with a meal prep company to make a line of ready-made dishes that use her recipes. She has plans to expand into both food trucks and new restaurants in the future.
Erickson is a star in Seattle and considered one of the city's top chefs. She made the news by paying her restaurant workers more than the minimum wage and continues fighting for restaurant workers. Bon Appetit claimed her restaurant was one of the best in Seattle.
As one of the leading pastry chefs in the United States, Velez learned how to cook at an early age from a cousin who owned a restaurant. After attending Le Cordon Bleu, she worked at Milk Bar in DC and developed skills that helped her become one of the top executive chefs in the city.
Russell made history as the first African American chef in history to earn a Michelin star. Food & Wine also named the restaurant one of the best in the world. Russell now lives in Hawaii.
It's almost impossible to think of Latin chefs without thinking of Lorena Garcia. Garcia learned how to cook from her stepfather and still uses some of his recipes. She was also the first female chef to open a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip.
Winner of Top Chef season 10, Kish is one of the commentators on the series Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend on Netflix. Kish also worked as a culinary teacher before becoming a chef de cuisine, working with Barbara Lynch.
Compton won the title of Best Chef: South in 2018 from the James Beard Foundation and Best New Chef in 2017 from Food & Wine Magazine. Many fans know her from Top Chef season 11 where she finished in second place.
Elizabeth Blau is one of the most influential chefs working in Las Vegas today. She launched the Save Our Restaurants program to help the industry during the covid pandemic. Blau is also a James Beard Foundation nominee.
Ta is the owner of Here's Looking at You, a popular restaurant in the Los Angeles area. She focuses on creating authentic Korean dishes that highlight her heritage while also adding a uniquely American twist.
Curry is the wife of an NBA player and a popular chef with her own cooking show. She launched a line of cookware as well as a lifestyle magazine in 2020 named Sweet July.
The food scene in San Francisco would look quite different without Anna Weinberg. The owner of four restaurants in the city, the chef believes in creating traditional dishes updated for the modern age.
Best Female Chefs in the U.S.
Crenn is a superstar in the restaurant world. Born and raised in France, she learned at her mother's hand before coming to the United States. Her San Francisco restaurant, Atelier Creen, has three Michelin stars.
Erickson has a deep love and passion for the local ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest and loves coming up with new ways to highlight them. While working on an art degree, she began working in restaurants to make extra money and discovered her love of cooking. She won the Best Chef Northwest Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2016.
Though you might not know her name, Goin owns and operates three fine dining Las Angeles restaurants, several casual restaurants as well as a bakery. The LA native picked up more than 10 James Beard nominations since starting her career. She also won awards for her first cookbook.
Izard already had a good reputation when she appeared on the fourth season of Top Chef, becoming the first female chef to win the competition show. She returned to reality TV in 2017 to become an Iron Chef. Izard used her skills to open four popular restaurants in the Chicago area.
A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Jasinski used her degree to work in New York City kitchens before moving to California where she worked directly with Wolfgang Puck. Though she still uses some of the skills she learned from him, she also focuses on using local ingredients found around Denver, where she owns several restaurants.
Lynch is not just one of the best female chefs in Boston, she's one of the city's top chefs. The former executive chef developed her skills while working with Todd English before going out on her own. She opened her first restaurant in 1998 and now owns seven of the best restaurants in Beantown.
Known as the Italian Chef, Pollastrini picked up millions of followers on her Instagram account. They love seeing the new and unique dishes she creates. Born in Italy and trained at the Cordon Bleu, she loves putting a unique twist on classic foods. The Gayot Guide named her restaurant the best in 2019 and picked her as the best chef.
Though Quatrano spent her early years in Connecticut, she honed her cooking skills on the West Coast and developed a love of California cuisine. After marrying Clifford Harrison, the two moved to Georgia and began running the family farm, which led to her first restaurant. She also published a cookbook that featured some of her favorite comfort foods and farm recipes.
It is almost impossible to think about tapas without thinking about Alex Raji. Though the dishes had some fans, it was the launch of her restaurant Txikito that made tapas a household name. Raji continues offering traditional dishes with a unique twist such as codfish croquettes and unique options like homemade foie gras.
The chances are good that you know Susan Spicer if only for her television appearances. Spicer trained in France and worked closely with two of the top chefs in Paris before opening her first restaurant in New Orleans. You can now enjoy her cooking in both fine dining and casual establishments around the Big Easy. Spicer is also a James Beard Award winner and a published cookbook author.
Who are the Most Famous Female Chefs?
Both male and female chefs from around the world credit Julia Child for bringing attention to the cooking world and especially French cuisine. Mastering the Art of French Cooking became a hit in the 1960s. The child spent a long time learning how to cook authentic French dishes and wrote detailed instructions that anyone would follow to bring those techniques into the modern age. She was also the star of The French Chef, which aired on TBS for more than a decade and became one of the first hit cooking shows. Child's cooking was so popular that the Smithsonian National Museum of American History dismantled her entire kitchen and put it on display.
Clare Smyth is one of the most famous chefs in the world who is still alive and cooking up a storm. Smyth came from humble beginnings, raised by a mother who worked as a server and a father who tended to the family farm. After working in London and Australia, she became the head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which led to an appearance on his TV show MasterChef. Smyth later left her position to open her own restaurant and now owns two. She was also named the World's Best Female Chef in 2018. Clare was the head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay from 2012 to 2016.
Though she's younger than some of the others on our list of the most famous female chefs, Helena Rizzo deserves her spot. She worked her way up from the ground floor, starting as a simple cook before eventually becoming an executive chef. She and her husband opened Mani in 2006, which Restaurant Magazine named one of the top two restaurants in South America and one of the best in the world. Food & Wine Magazine also picked Mani as one of the world's best restaurants.
Catherine Ann Cora
Probably best known as Cat Cora, this female chef became one of the best in the world by using some of the skills she learned from her father and grandfather, both of whom owned and worked in restaurants. Cora attended the University of Mississippi and the Culinary Institute of America, which helped her get her foot in the door. Bon Appétit Magazine named her the Teacher of the Year in 2006. The American Culinary Federation also picked her as the first female chef inducted into the American Academy of Chefs Hall of Fame.
To learn more about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the hospitality industry, check out our article on The Role of J-1 Hospitality Sponsors in Supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.
Azrak is a chef known around the world for her Basque cooking. She was only 11 when she started working in her family's kitchen, making her the fourth generation to work there. Her family's wealth allowed her to travel the world and learn cooking from some of the top chefs, which helped her develop her own cooking style. Arzak won the title of Best Female Chef in 2012 after ranking second the year before.
Little girls who love cooking look up to Comerford who became the White House Executive Chef in 2005. Not only is she the first Asian chef to hold the position, but she's the first female executive chef. Comerford worked at several hotels in the Chicago area before moving to Washington, DC where she became an assistant chef at the White House. She is one of the only female members of Le Club des Chefs (C.C.C.), which only accepts chefs working for government heads.
Lanshu Chef is one of the best female chefs in the world due to her effortless way of mixing French and Asian cuisines. After finishing her studies at Le Cordon Bleu, Chen spent some time working in Paris and other French cities. Her restaurant, Le Moût, ranked as one of the top 50 in the world in 2017. Chen was also named the Best Female Chef in Asia in 2014.
Between her smiling face and delicious food, it's no wonder why so many fans love Nadia Santini. Santini believes that cooking for small groups is better than cooking for a crowd because she can give each dish the attention it deserves. Restaurant Magazine named her one of the world's top female chefs in 2013 and named her restaurant one of the best, too.
When it comes to desserts, few pastry chefs can deliver as well as Sarah Barber. Barber spent years working in different positions around the world before settling in the UK. As a pastry chef consultant, she now helps other chefs come up with recipes that will amaze their diners. Elite Traveler named Barber one of the top 14 female chefs in the United Kingdom.
Nicknamed the Rock Star Chef, Faulkner got her to start working as a dishwasher in a San Francisco restaurant after earning a BFA degree. Faulkner then worked in several restaurants before realizing her love of pastry. She used her love of art and desserts to open Citizen Cake in San Francisco. Faulker competed in both Iron Chef and Guy's Grocery Games after winning the World Pizza Championship.
Alice Waters began cooking before some of the other chefs on our list were even born. The New Jersey native studied French in college and later spent time in France, which influenced her cooking. Chez Panisse opened in 1971 and allowed her to highlight local ingredients as she showed that simple dishes could taste great. Her restaurant has one Michelin star and was named the Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet Magazine in 2001.
Bloomfield never planned to become a chef, but she's now one of the top in the world. Born and raised in England, she went to college to study catering when her original career plans fell through. Her time there taught her the skills she needed to work in small hotels in Ireland before taking on her restaurant job in London. Bloomfield also made history as the highest scoring competitor ever on Iron Chef.
Female Chefs are Taking Over the World
Though less than 7 percent of restaurant chefs are women, this number is on the rise. These women chefs have their own ideas of what does and doesn't work in a commercial kitchen that they bring with them every day. Work with one of these top female chefs to find new recipes and ideas you would never think of yourself.