It’s the passion that beats within the heart of every female chef, the unsung hero’s of the kitchen, the leaders of a quiet brigade. Strong and silent they rule, yet never miss a beat. While your grandmother or mother may still reign supreme on the home front, behind those swinging doors lies a completely different story. The professional kitchen has always been a male dominated domain, but thanks to a small percentage of stalwart souls that is slowly changing.
Women make up just 17% of chefs and cooks today with fewer than 25% owning their own restaurants. Why is this so? Women are cleaner, faster, quieter, more nurturing and understanding than men, yet they often get overlooked for positions of power. It’s like that saying “There’s no crying in baseball” ~ ditto for the kitchen. Makes people perceive you as weak. Same goes for having children. Oh, she won’t be able to come in if little Johnny gets a cold. Bullshit! We are just as capable, if not more, of rising to any challenge or situation.
Yet the big cheese in the white jacket and top toque is almost always a man. Thank god there are some amazing women working to change that. So here, in no particular order are some of my favourite women chefs, where they can be found & what culinary volumes they have produced. If you can’t enjoy their food first hand, at least you can try to re-create it at home. Just remember it won’t be as good as the real thing.
1) Gabriele Hamilton ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Eclectic french home country, not afraid to speak her mind and not influenced by the next ‘big’ thing. Inspiration: Her mother.
Prune: 54 Est 1st NY, NY 212-677-6221 http://www.prune.com
Upcoming: Blood, Bones & Butter release date early 2010
2) Rebecca Charles ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: The best lobster roll. No stranger to controversy. Inspiration: Swans Oyster Depot San Francisco.
Pearl Oyster Bar 18 Cornelia St. NY, NY 212-691-8211 ww.pearloysterbar.com
Cookbook: Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie
3) Debra Ponzek ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: American country french flavours, rose to prominence as Chef of Montrachet in New York City.
Aux Delices 1075 E. Putnam Ave Riverside, CT. 203-698-1066 http://www.auxdelicesfoods.com (there are currently 3 locations in CT)
Cookbook: French Food / American Accent
4) Alison Barshak ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Inspired by travels to many different counties, rose to prominence as Chef at Striped Bass in Philadelphia.
Alison two 424 S. Bethlehem Pike Fort Washington, PA 215- 591-0200 http://www.alisontwo.com
Cookbook: Can be found in Great Women Chefs and Women of Taste
5) Jody Adams ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Italian cuisine with native new england ingredients.
Rialto One Bennett St. Harvard Sq Cambridge, Mass 617- 661-5050 http://www.rialto.com
Cookbook: In the Hands of a Chef
6) Elizabeth Falkner ~ Pastry Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Avant garde works of edible pastry art.
Citizen Cake 399 Grove St. San Francisco, CA 415-861-2228 http://www.citizencake.com
Cookbook: Demolition Desserts
7) Suzanne Goin ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Seasonally inspired classic dishes.
Lucques 8474 Melrose Ave los Angeles, CA 323-655-6277 http://www.lucques.com
Cookbook: Sunday Suppers at Lucques
8) Nancy Silverton ~ Artisan Bread Baker/ Owner ~ Food style: Brought artisanal bread to the forefront at La Brea Bakery. Currently partnered with Mario Batali.
Osteria Mozza 6602 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 323-297-0100 www.mozza-la.com
Cookbook: Twist of the Wrist
9) Judy Rodgers ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Simple, clean brick oven cuisine.
Zuni 1658 Market St San Francisco, CA 415-552-2522 http://www.zunicafe.com
Cookbook: The Zuni Cafe Cookbook
10) Gale Gand ~ Pastry Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Classic desserts reinvented for today.
Tru 676 N. St. Clair St. Chicago, Ill 312-202-0001 www.trurestaurant.com
Cookbook: Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs & Short- n- Sweet
11) Kathy Cary ~ Chef/Owner ~ Food style: Southern traditions inspired with local KY ingredients.
Lilly’s A Kentucky Bistro 1147 Bardstown Rd Louisville, KY 502-451-0447 http://www.lillyslapeche.com
Cookbook: Can be found in Great Women Chefs
12) Karen Barnaby ~ Chef ~ Food style: Fresh local seafood, got started in Ottawa, moved to Toronto before landing in Vancouver.
The Fish House in Stanley Park 8901 Stanley Park Drive Vancouver, BC 1-877-681-7275 http://www.fishhousestanleypark.com
Cookbook: Halibut The Cookbook
So here’s to Girl Power! May these intrepid ladies keep fanning the fire paving the way for a new generation of female chefs and pastry chefs.
This is not a complete listing, but just enough to whet the appetite. Rock on Ladies!