Women Chefs Rise To Top — Slowly Support Women in “NY Restaurant Week”

If they can take the heat, women chefs are rising to the top in the leading restaurants, albeit slowly. This is my tenth annual status report championing the successes of women chefs and restaurateurs and campaign to hire.

In 2017, a record four women were named among the 12 annual Food & Wine “Best New Chefs” honorees. According to my own decade’s research, less than 16 percent — 48 women of the total 299 “Best New Chefs” have been selected since the list was inaugurated in 1988. Each year I take issue with the list because so few women are selected for this prestigious, career-making honor. Could this rightfully be considered the “Food & Whine” issue?

No woman was chosen in 2003. One lone ranger was selected each year from 2004 to 2007, and from 2009 to 2011, as well as in 2015 and 2016. Two women were designated each year in 2008, 2012 and 2015.

Congratulations to the culinary queens quartet: Angie Mar, The Beatrice Inn, New York City; Nina Compton, Compere Lapin, New Orleans; Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, Kismet, Los Angeles. The coveted list honors the most innovative up-and-coming chefs who have been in charge of a professional kitchen for five or fewer years.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Suggest Women To Be On BNC List

Only 33 percent of American restaurants are majority-owned by women. Another 15 percent are equally co-owned by women and men. Women fill only 19 percent of professional chef positions.

The James Beard Awards are considered the Oscars of the food world. Historically, of the 361 awards over 27 years, only 81, or 20 percent, have been given to women. Only five women have won the top Outstanding Chef award.

In 2017, Ghaya Oliveira was named “Outstanding Pastry Chef,” at Daniel in New York City. Ten women were finalists in the major JBA chef categories. Nora Pouillon, owner of Restaurant Nora, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Clare Reichenbach has just been appointed CEO of the James Beard Foundation.

Barbara Lynch was honored as one of Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People” in 2017 and the only chef. She is head of a seven-restaurant empire and was named only the second female James Beard “Outstanding Restaurateur” in 2014. Lynch was BNC in 1996.


The pipeline to top toque may not be a pipe dream after all. Female enrollment at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is a record 51 percent. High school senior Julia Spondike was awarded First Place for the Culinary Arts at SkillsUSA National Competition and a full tuition scholarship to the CIA, worth more than $120,000. Eater.com “Young Guns” selected nine women and eight men in their sixth annual search for the best and brightest new restaurant industry talent.

Certified Executive Pastry Chef Kimberly Brock Brown is the first African-American female and third female elected to the national American Culinary Federation board.

Prominent, award-winning male chefs and restaurateurs have been accused of systemic sexual harassment and gender bias allegations in the industry. In fact, 37 percent of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 1995 come from the restaurant industry, the most of any other industry. Sixty percent of women working in restaurants reported they had been sexually harassed at work.

Some past male James Beard winners have been accused of serial sexual harassment. Consequently, the Foundation has requested that voters consider the complete character of potential nominees in the future.


American Culinary Federation www.acf.org

Association of Food Journalists — www.afjonline.com

Cherry Bombe magazine and Jubilee conference (NYC, Apri 14–15) — www.cherrybombe.com

Fancy Food Showswww.specialtyfood.com

International Association of Culinary Professionals and annual conference (NYC, Feb. 23–25) — www.iacp.com

James Beard Women’s Leadership Programs www.jamesbeard.org

Le Dames d’Escoffier Internationalwww.ldei.org

New York Women’s Culinary Alliance — www.nywca.org

Toklas Societywww.www.toklassociety.com

Women Chefs and Restaurateurswww.womenchefs.org



Let’s put our money where our mouth is. Nine leading women chefs and restaurateurs are among the 400 restaurants participating in
“NYC Restaurant Week,” until Friday, February 9. This is a great opportunity to dine at the city’s top restaurants. Three-course, prix-fix lunch is $29 and three-course, prix-fix dinner is $42, excluding beverages, gratuities and taxes. Bon appetit! Complete list and information at www.nycgo.com

Alex Guarnaschelli, Executive Chef, Butter

April Bloomfield, Michelin starred Chef, The Breslin, Salvation Taco

Georgette Farkas, CEO, Rotisserie Georgette

Laura Maioglio, Owner, Barbetta

Lea Cohen, Chef, Pig and Khao

Lidia Bastianich, Founder, Felidia

Sara Jenkins, Chef, Porsena

Sarabeth Levine, Chef/owner, Sarabeth’s

Suzanne Cupps, Executive Chef, Untitled (Whitney Museum). She is currently one of two female Executive Chefs at USHG’s nine full-service restaurants.

Developing resource list to support and hire women chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, wait /bar staff and event venues. Watch this space.

YOU’VE GOT (F)EMAIL! on my website at www.beverlywettenstein.com

See “Women Make History Every Day Database”on website.

“Support Women Upcoming Events Calendar” on website.

“Celebrate Women Every Day and Make History!” Onward and upward!

Beverly Wettenstein

Written by

Women’s Advocate, Speaker, Journalist, Author, Historian, Media Monitor. Founder of Women Make History Every Day Database. www.beverlywettenstein.com