These 21 Kickass Female Chefs Are On Our Radar

21 Female Chefs

That Are Worthy Of Your Cheat Day

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While chefs like Carla Hall and Giada De Laurentiis may be household names, there’s a lot of other female chefs many haven’t heard of yet, but probably will. Restaurant kitchens and celebrity chefdom was once very much a man’s world, but these women are showing the ladies are absolutely taking over.

Ouita Michel 

A powerhouse in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, the CIA-trained chef, and entrepreneur, already owns six restaurants throughout Lexington, KY while also balancing time as chef-in-residence at the renowned Woodford Reserve Distillery. She was a semifinalist for James Beard’s best Southeast chef for five consecutive years and received a nomination in 2016 for outstanding restaurateur. On May 3rd, Ouita debuted Honeywood. The 150-seat restaurant opened at The Summit at Fritz Farm, a new center for culinary and retail development in Lexington. With her Kentucky-based upbringing and high standards for sourcing food from area producers, Ouita’s Honeywood dishes use ingredients from regional farming relationships that go back 20 years. Embodying her gospel of local food, clever recipes and Southern hospitality, menu items include creative twists on traditional Kentucky staples – such as Kentucky victory hemp salad, Whitesburg soup beans, vegetarian beet loaf, sweet potato beignets, and Stone Cross Farm pork chops with grits and apple butter pork jus.

Jennifer Day 

Executive Chef Jennifer Day of Charlie Palmer’s Upper Story at the top of the Decoration & Design Building is one to watch. A native of Long Island, and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Australia, she began her professional career as the Chef de Cuisine at Gourmet magazine. Various roles as a high-end caterer for corporate functions, and upscale personal celebrations such as weddings, baby showers, and birthdays followed. A dedicated marathoner and mom of one, at Upper Story Jennifer employs her longtime passion for creating exceptional upscale comfort food dinner parties for large scale catered events.

Jessie Glessner

Herringbone La Jolla recently welcomed newly appointed Executive Chef Jessie Glessner. Growing up in Kauai, Hawaii, Chef Glessner was exposed to the idea of accentuating fresh, local produce at a young age. Embracing the relaxing atmosphere of the San Diego coast, Chef Glessner feels right at home in the Herringbone kitchen. The “fish meats field” restaurant prides itself on serving fresh seafood with local ingredients – a natural fit based on Chef Glessner’s coastal roots. Chef Glessner has crafted new dishes utilizing each season’s finest produce, priding herself in utilizing fresh quality ingredients, reflected through Herringbone’s menu which boasts local fare and celebrates California-coastal cuisine.

Claire Crenshaw

Chef Claire, who was part of Zagat’s 30 under 30 in Chicago in 2015, loves to reimagine childhood classics and turn familiar desserts into contemporary treats for the crowd at LH Rooftop at the LondonHouse Chicago, a tri-level rooftop venue in the heart of downtown Chicago. From a young age, Claire Crenshaw was drawn to the kitchen – baking cinnamon rolls with her grandmother and pretending she had her own bakery with her mother's Tupperware, pots, and pans. Crenshaw attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, graduating in 2005 with an Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry. Crenshaw honed her culinary skills working at a variety of food and beverage outlets including a resort in South Carolina, a small brasserie in Chicago, and some renowned restaurants in the Windy City like Quince and Moto. As the executive pastry chef at LondonHouse Chicago, she oversees the staff and production of the hotel’s pastry department, from intricate pastries on LH Rooftop’s menu to fabulous wedding cakes. Crenshaw utilizes classic European techniques in her baking, but adds modern twists to her creations by presenting familiar flavors in a less familiar way. Since Crenshaw’s favorite thing about being a pastry chef is the ability to experiment and play with food, she frequently surprises guests with her iterations of classic desserts. For example, the current dessert menu is titled Pie! Pie! Pie! and includes Blended – an apple pie in the form of a milkshake. Another popular item on one of Crenshaw’s past menus is her Cookies and Cream, a dehydrated milk cookie with a creamy chocolate cookie mousse and chocolate chips, which in one bite tastes like dipping a homemade cookie into a cold glass of milk. Crenshaw doesn’t shy away from a culinary challenge and loves solving problems that end in dessert.

Laura Sawicki 

Launderette's Executive Pastry Chef Laura Sawicki is a four-time James Beard nominee. Over the past five years, Laura has begun to gain national acclaim and recognition for her prolific innovative culinary creations in both pastries and desserts. Laura Sawicki began her culinary career in Austin by opening La Condesa and Sway to critical acclaim in 2009. Laura was named Best New Pastry Chef in 2012 by Food & Wine Magazine as well as being nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef for her work at La Condesa and Sway. In 2015 Laura opened Launderette, a neighborhood cafe in East Austin which was nominated for a James Beard award in the category of Best New Restaurant in 2016. Laura was also a semi-finalist back to back years in 2016 and 2017 for the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award for her work at Launderette. She recently hosted a pop-up with Christina Tosi of Milk Bar at Launderette in April of 2017 during Austin Food & Wine Fest, and it attracted literally hundreds of guests with hour+ long lines for a fully sold-out event. Laura is most well known for her accurate imitation of the Caramel DeLites/Samoa Girl Scout Cookie and her irresistible Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Jennifer Paul 

Canoe’s executive pastry chef, Jennifer Paul, is no stranger to the Atlanta culinary scene. Hailing from Tucker, Ga., Chef Paul began her culinary career at the iconic Bistro Niko , where she spent two years developing her skills before joining Alon's Bakery and then Canoe. Chef Paul appreciates traditional pastry recipes, but enjoys reinventing them and putting a new twist on the past classics. Under Chef Paul, the Canoe dessert classics, such as the Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae, have remained fan favorites, but her touch is evident in the new dessert items and have been regarded by the Food Network.

Krista Paz 

At One Eared Stag, the only constant on the menu is change, and that same rule applies to the dessert and brunch selections created by pastry chef Kristia Paz. Every two weeks, Paz wipes the slate clean and introduces three new plated desserts to be served with dinner. During One Eared Stag’s famous weekend brunch, the changes come even quicker: Paz serves a pastry basket with four different baked goods that change every single week. For her part, Paz enjoys using classic pastry and baking techniques to create pairings that feel familiar to diners but are presented with an unusual twist. She draws on a well of experience from some of Atlanta’s top dessert destinations, including Restaurant Eugene, where she was part of the opening staff and worked for three years. Prior to One Eared Stag, Paz spent seven years at The Little Cake Bakery, the beloved Buckhead cupcake shop where Jennifer Zyman of Creative Loafing Atlanta hailed Paz for her “wildly creative” creations. At One Eared Stag, her creativity has been allowed to roam beyond the land of cupcakes since 2013.

Regina Grandinetti

The namesake of Regina’s Grocery is a home-cook turn professional cook. Those close to her describe Regina, a Brooklyn native, as one-of-a-kind. From her unique yet trendy look including cat-eye glasses, an all-black wardrobe, and her red hair, to her take it or leave it attitude. Regina’s story begins with the beauty industry –attending cosmetology school and eventually working for Chanel at Bloomingdales for many years. Regina always cooked for family, friends, friends of friends, etc., as cooking is a prominent piece of her Italian and Brooklyn culture; it's how she shows you she cares. This former Studio 54 regular is now sharing her recipes and delicious food with New York City. She will be in the kitchen, and accessible for patrons, giving Regina's Grocery a home-like feel unparalleled to anything else.

Karina Rivera 

Karina Rivera works under world-renowned pastry chef, Antonio Bachour. Palace Resorts  just partnered with him (and her) the partnership with Palace Resorts will feature an exclusive menu selection of decadent desserts and pastries, exclusively curated by him and her and will be featured at all ten of the brand’s oceanfront properties in Mexico and Jamaica. As the leader in the luxury all-inclusive space, Palace Resorts has demonstrated its dedication to improving the dining experience by aligning with top brands. In partnering up with one of “Star Chef’s” highly recognized dessert masters, the brand reinforces its passion for world-class culinary offerings, by bringing new delights to its guests. Bachour’s selection of signature desserts including his signature bonbons, will be available along with other sweet treats such as Berries & Crème, Lemon Tart & a unique take on S’mores, with caramelized bananas, among many others. Existing dessert recipes served in restaurants will also receive a touch of Bachour’s culinary twists; assuring guests are consistently delighted with new epicurean experiences.

Lorena Garcia 

Chef Lorena Garcia (Top Chef Masters, America’s Next Great Restaurant, multiple shows on Telemundo) who recently opened her restaurant Chica at The Venetian, making her the first Latina chef on the Las Vegas Strip. Lorena's dream is to bring Latin food to the level of appreciation and respect of other cuisines, and her diverse menu explores the flavors of Latin American cuisine as one culture, with influences from Venezuela (her home country), Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, among many more. 

 

Megan Johnson

Chef Megan Johnson is currently the owner and executive chef of newly-opened all-day cafe, restaurant and wine bar, Hudson Jane, alongside her partner in life and business Jennifer La Porta. After living in Fort Greene for almost 8 years, they realized the neighborhood lacked a gathering place for locals to get a quick bite during the day, enjoy a good cup of coffee or a glass of wine at night.  When they found a space that had been vacant for several years on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Adelphi Street, Hudson Jane was born.   After stints at several restaurants in Seattle and Dublin, Megan joined the kitchen staff at Danny Meyer's Gramercy Tavern in 2004, where she furthered her understanding that the key to good food lies in the simplicity, exceptional quality and freshness of ingredients. Over the course of two years, she mastered nearly every station in the kitchen from Tavern line cook and meat roaster to dining room garde-manger, and chef de partie.  After leaving Gramercy Tavern, Megan worked as private chef, as well as in the kitchen of Gottino. In 2008, Megan was named head chef at Casellula Cheese and Wine Café, where she gained a following among both New Yorkers and the media for her unique, seasonal small plates.  Procuring many of her ingredients from the Union Square Greenmarket, she was able to form close relationships with farmers across the Tri-State area, who she continues to work with.  Two years later, Megan and the team at Casellula opened Elsewhere, a full restaurant and bar in the Theater District.  As with Casellula, Megan’s food at Elsewhere was well received by locals and critics alike with nods in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Eater, Time Out New York and more. Megan has appeared on several television shows including Mike Colameco’s Real Food on PBS, Food Network’s Chopped and Very Appetizing with Kelly Choi.

 

Megan Logan 

Executive Chef Megan Logan on your radar from Patina Restaurant Group’s Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse. As the female executive chef of a very masculine steakhouse, Chef Megan’s skills, grit and persistence have led her to become a chef on the rise and known within the culinary community. Chef Megan begin her culinary career at the age of 15 as a server at a local restaurant—however the fast paced environment of the kitchen beckoned. After graduating from Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, she rose through the kitchen ranks at Joachim Splichal’s flagship restaurant, Patina. While Chef Megan was at Patina, the restaurant received a Michelin Star and a four-star review from the Los Angeles Times. Combining classic French technique with her love of food cultures from around the world, Logan enjoys creating simply prepared dishes with the freshest ingredients from local farmers’ markets. According to Logan, when working with good ingredients "less is always more."

Julia Sullivan

Julia Sullivan is chef and co-owner of Henrietta Red in Nashville. Julia strives to create memorable dining experiences by balancing interesting flavors and elegant presentation with convivial spirit. She is a graduate of Tulane University and the Culinary Institute of America, and has worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Per Se, and Franny’s in New York before returning to her hometown of Nashville, where she worked as a consultant and caterer before partnering with Strategic Hospitality to open her first restaurant, Henrietta Red, which opened this past winter. It was named as one of Bon Appetit’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants in America. She just had three out of four recipes run in the Slow Food Fast column in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Journal, with the fourth column running this coming weekend.

 

Karen Hatfield

Karen Hatfield is chef and co-owner of Odys + Penelope, The Sycamore Kitchen and The Mighty in Los Angeles. Karen Hatfield is recognized as one of the country’s best pastry chefs. Her pastry career began not far from home at the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, where she perfected her innate ability to take classic combinations and translate them in unexpected ways. She started her career early on as Pastry Chef at Spago Hollywood and Spago Beverly Hills. At Spago, Karen met her future husband, Quinn Hatfield, co-owner/co-creator of their three current restaurants. Karen held positions at Café Boulud, Jean-Georges and Gramercy Tavern.  In 2002, Karen and Quinn moved to San Francisco to open Cortez restaurant in Union Square’s Hotel Adagio. In early 2006, they opened their first restaurant, Hatfields, which was named “Best New Restaurant” by Los Angeles magazine and achieved a Michelin star in 2008. Hatfields has since closed and they now have three restaurants in Los Angeles, all of which have been lauded by food critics. 

Jamie Malone

Jamie Malone is chef and co-owner of Grand Café in Minneapolis. From chef partners Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson comes the new age of Grand Café, an updated turn for the beloved South Minneapolis bistro. Keeping in mind its rich 70-year history, the revamp brightens this French classic’s charm and nostalgia while feeding the neighborhood with hearty fare prepared at the hands of the talented hometown chefs. At the new Grand Café, a carefully crafted dichotomy of old and new intertwines atmosphere and cuisine. St. Paul born and bred, Jamie Malone has remained a Minneapolis mainstay through her work with Chef Tim Mckee, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s Chambers Kitchen, and shared stints with Erik Anderson at Hotel Ivy’s Porter & Fry and Sea Change. Malone gained national attention for the Twin Cities as a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” and semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef” and “Best Chef: Midwest.” Atop her culinary achievements, Malone has written for Esquire’s “Eat Like a Man” blog and won Cooking Light’s” Trail Blazer” award for her work with sustainable seafood.

Angela Pinkerton

Angela Pinkerton is chef and co-creator of upcoming restaurants Che Fico and Theorita in San Francisco (Opening winter 2018). Award-winning Pastry Chef Angela Pinkerton (formerly of Eleven Madison Park) joins forces with Chef David Nayfeld (formerly of Eleven Madison Park) and Matt Brewer (formerly of Hogsalt Hospitality) to open Che Fico in the burgeoning NOPA neighborhood in San Francisco.  The restaurant will serve rustic, casual Italian fare with a heavy California influence. Che Fico will feature Neapolitan-style pizza from an oven brought in from Naples, a handmade pasta program as well as a glass charcuterie room. Named after Pinkerton’s grandmother, Theorita will be a pie shop and dinette highlighting her extensive baking and pastry prowess. In addition to showcasing pies in all forms, both sweet and savory, Theorita will feature a grab-and-go counter for lunch and breakfast fare during the day and in the evening, the space will operate as a full-service dinette with counter and dining room seating. The dinner menu, created by Nayfeld, will be his interpretation of diner food eaten around the country including influence from Pinkerton’s childhood favorites growing up in Northeastern Ohio.

Mina Newman

Chef Mina is the executive chef behind the recently opened Sen Sakana in NYC.  It’s the first ever Nikkei-style restaurant in Manhattan.  Of Peruvian descent, Mina had long awaited an opportunity to showcase her heritage to New York diners. With her partner Taku Nagai, they showcase the cuisine that was created with the migration of Japanese people to Peru.  She seamlessly intertwines the technique of Japan with the produce of Peru. Menu sections include ceviche, tiraditos, sushi, main dishes, and a selection of skewers from the kushiyaki grill. Sushi like the Uni Nigiri with bright purple Peruvian sweet potato, lemon zest and shiso is a perfect example of the spirit of Nikkei. Early in her career, Mina served as the chef of Drew Nieporent’s Layla, one of the first restaurants to showcase Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and Dylan Prime, which billed itself as a female-friendly steakhouse.  She has also appeared on countless television shows and was the winner of “Chopped” in 2009.

Martyna Krowicka

Chef de Latour Martyna Krowicka of Crystal Springs Resort’s four-star Restaurant Latour located in the beautiful mountains of Northwest New Jersey. Martyna, who appeared on Food Network’s Chopped and won “Chopped Champion” in Fall 2016, brings a wealth of culinary insight and respect for ingredients to each of her menus. Previously, Martyna worked under Crystal Springs Director of Food & Beverage Chef Anthony Bucco at the acclaimed Ryland Inn.  She was also a sous chef at New York’s Empellón Taqueria, part of Chef Alex Stupak’s group of restaurants. In 2015, Bucco recruited her to join the kitchen team at Restaurant Latour. Martyna fell in love with cooking during her childhood summer visits to Poland, where she spent many hours in her grandmothers’ kitchens.  She would wake up early to fetch hen eggs and crisp up farm-fresh potatoes baked in the dirt from the night before. Martyna loved working with the Polish classic, soured milk - the raw, unpasteurized milk left to ferment on the counter, which awakened the breakfast potatoes with a spark of delicious creamy tang. Martyna’s Polish roots, love of the kitchen, culinary education and her professional experiences have all led to the role of Chef de Latour of Restaurant Latour, where her thoughtful approach to food is in line with the wood to table ethos of Chef Bucco.  Under her guidance, Restaurant Latour remains one of New Jersey’s top dining destinations, retaining four stars in a Newark Star-Ledger review in 2016 and its place as one of New Jersey Monthly’s “25 Best Restaurants.”

Adrienne Grenier

3030 Ocean is home to Executive Chef and Chopped champion Adrienne Grenier. For over a decade, 3030 Ocean at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa has been known for its sophisticated, yet simple locally-sourced cuisine, served in a chic, oceanfront setting. Overlooking pristine white sands at the popular Fort Lauderdale resort, 3030 Ocean is an elegant hotspot frequented by locals and visitors alike. Now at the helm of the kitchen, where her career first began, newly-appointed Executive Chef Adrienne Grenier has developed a fresh menu to match the restaurant’s modern, maritime-inspired design and ambience. Grenier brings her own signature cooking style of inventive farm-to-table fare – which won her the title of champion on Food Network’s Chopped – to the seaside restaurant, with a menu that highlights premium, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. With a heavy focus on Florida seafood, 3030 Ocean’s new menu puts a spotlight on the best product available in South Florida. In addition to the new menu choices, the combined 216 seat oceanfront restaurant also boasts an expanded bar and lounge area, as well as a restyled dining room. Driven by a desire to marry organic ocean-inspired elements with contemporary sophistication, each facet of 3030 Ocean’s new look was carefully selected to enhance the dining experience.

Ayesha Nurdjaja

Ayesha Nurdjaja of the recently opened restaurant Shuka in SoHo.  Ayesha, a Brooklyn native, found her inspiration for intense flavors from growing up with an Italian mother and Indonesian father. She honed her skills with Lydia Bastianch at Felidia, with Missy Robbins at A Voce and most recently at Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer's Hundred Acres, which is now Shuka's current space. In addition, Chef Nurdjaja has traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean, from Spain to North Africa and Israel and has been fortunate enough to stage at some of the most influential restaurants in Tel Aviv. At Shuka, Ayesha showcases the dynamic and flavorful cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean, with dishes ranging from a variety of mezze, dips and kebabs as well as larger plates like tagine and shakshuka.  When she’s not in the kitchen, Ayesha enjoys a nice glass of scotch, traveling everywhere from the Amalfi Coast to the Aegean Sea and discovering antique pieces for her ever-expanding jewelry collection.

Sunny Lee

Sunny Lee is a rising star 30 year old chef about to open her first restaurant in Brooklyn. Sunny’s restaurant, Ajjuma,  will be opening this fall in Williamsburg. 'Ajjuma’ is a Korean term that means “auntie”, but refers more to someone who takes care of others than a familial relationship. The name reflects her approach to food and the restaurant will serve her take on non-traditional Korean cuisine, with a focus on banchan (the small, mostly vegetable fermented dishes enjoyed with a Korean meal). Sunny has an amazing pedigree, having worked at top NYC restaurants including Eleven Madison Park, Blue Hill/Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Battersby. While raised in fine dining, she decided to switch directions a few years ago and focus on the casual Korean food she loved cooking for herself and her friends to relax. She became the banchan chef at Brooklyn's Insa before getting ready to open Ajjuma (expected this November). Beyond her immense talent, she has an amazing personality and is warm, charismatic and thoughtful.

Aly Walansky

Aly Walansky is a freelance lifestyles writer based in New York City, who contributes regularly to iVillage, SheKnows.com, xoJane, Huffington Post, and The Fashion Spot as well as many other print and web outlets.

5 Comments
  1. Wow,Megan! You have really created a wonderful life with Carla….enjoy your amazing restaurant and all of the people who share your food and experience your creativity! Love you! Hugs, Auntie Gael

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