The world often forgets the importance of women. Women have nurtured this world and filled it with the brightest lights, the sharpest minds, the warmest hearts, and the most creative souls. Yet, they are overlooked in many business sectors one being the food industry. Despite all odds, female chefs and entrepreneurs persevere to become change-makers and trend-setters. In the world of cuisine women have been at the forefront preparing some of the finest dishes the world has to offer. In an industry dominated by men, there is no chef alive that has not been influenced by a woman’s skills in the kitchen. Whether it’s your grandmother making your favourite homecooked meal that’s been passed down through generations or if it’s the Rockstar chef behind the counter at your favourite five-star restaurant, women’s influence on food runs deep. For International Women’s Day we would like to honour these women by sharing some stories on some of the most noteworthy female chefs to touch this earth.
Of course, there is the one and only Julia Childs who wrote what is a classic cookbook a kitchen staple, in North America, ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’
Julia was born in Pasadena, California. Julia graduated college with a degree in History, before joining the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II as a top-secret researcher. While working for the OSS she met her husband Paul Child, who introduced her to the world of fine cuisines. After the couple moved to Paris in 1948, where Julia attended the renowned culinary school Cordon Bleu. Soon after Julia began her journey as a teacher – working with Americans to teach them how to master French cuisine. In 1961, she published ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’, one of the most famous cookbooks to ever be published. She continued on to publish other works, all of which were well received by her North American audience. Julia Child’s can be credited with bridging the gap between French and American home cooks.
Edna Lewis is without a doubt one of the most influential chefs to have ever walked this earth. She is known as the queen of southern cooking and culinary ambassador. Edna inspired young chefs all over the world and ensured that the culinary traditions of the American south not be forgotten. She was born in Freetown Virginia; her grandparents were formerly enslaved. From very humble beginnings, Edna acquired her skills as a chef from her Aunt Jenny. It is said that they would cook on a wood-fire stove without the use of measuring spoons or scales – instead they would place ingredients on coins to measure! When she was sixteen, Edna moved to New York City and the rest is history! From there she opened her first restaurant in 1948 – which become well renowned and hosted many celebrity guests such as Gloria Vanderbilt! She continued to publish multiple cookbooks and teach classes all around America to spread the love of Southern cuisine.
If you are ever in Bangkok, you must pay a visit to Gaa. This fine dining restaurant is owned by the one and only Garima Arora. Garima is the first female Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star in 2018. Her dishes are described as fusing Thai local produce with a classic Indian technique. Garima grew up in Mumbai. She attended the Cordon Bleu Paris Institute in 2010, soon after she moved to Copenhagen to continue her work. After settling in Bangkok and opening Gaa, she has been received numerous awards – including Asia’s Best Female Chef 2019. Garima forces her guests to reimagine the possibilities of Indian cuisine. She is innovative, creative, and a force to reckoned with in the culinary sector.
If you are looking for food fit a president, look on further – Cristeta Comerford has your back! Cristeta is a Filipino-American chef who has been the White House Executive Chef since 2005. She is the first woman to hold this position and is sure to not be the last. Cristeta grew up in the Philippines where she studied food technology before immigrating to the US at the age of 23. She worked at various hotels before joining the White House Kitchens in 1995. Since then she has made guest appearances on TV shows such as Iron Chef America and has received much praise by those who have had the honour of enjoying her food.
There are too many strong female chefs to count – But it is important for us to all remember, for every great meal there is a female influence behind it. Happy International Women’s Day!