Women Who Should Be on the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” List

Rachel Dow of The Betty in Chicago. [Photograph: Eric Kleinberg]

It’s time to get to know more female chefs.

Of the world’s 50 best chefs, as signified by the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” 2016 list, only two are women: Pía León, who works with her husband, Virgilio Martínez, at Lima’s Central; and Elena Arzak Espina, who works with her father, Juan Mari Arzak, at Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain.

Year over year and list after list, it’s evident that the male-dominated restaurant industry is barely shifting toward gender equality. But the world is packed with fantastic female chefs worthy of recognition — and, hey, maybe the panelists over at World’s 50 Best will try some of their restaurants this year.

Here are just a few female chefs, in no particular order, who’ve recently won awards, praise, or coverage for their culinary expertise:

Dominique Crenn, artist and chef at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, was named Best Female Chef 2016 by World’s 50 Best, despite the fact that her restaurant didn’t make the actual “50 Best” list. Those who haven’t dined at her restaurants may recognize her from The Mind of a Chef on PBS.

Renee Erickson of Seattle’s The Whale Wins took home the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest in 2016. She’s also the author of 2014’s A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories.

April Bloomfield, the British genius behind New York’s The Breslin and The Spotted Pig (each with a Michelin star), as well as the beloved Salvation Taco and Salvation Burger, designed the menu for the World’s 50 Best after-party. Guests battled for her famed ricotta gnudi, despite Bloomfield’s restaurants not being on the World’s 50 Best list.

Margarita Forés, named Asia’s best female chef this year by World’s 50 Best, launched the successful Cibo, an Italian mini chain in her native Philippines, 18 years ago. She has gone on to incorporate a farm-to-table sensibility in her Italian-inspired restaurants throughout the Philippines.

Suzanne Goin took home the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 2016. Chef and owner at West Hollywood’s Lucques since 1998, Goin also earned a Best New Chef title from Food & Wine in 1999 and has made top lists ever since.

Daniela Soto-Innes, named Rising Star Chef of the Year this year by the James Beard Foundation, is the chef at New York City’s Cosme, where the corn-husk meringue may be one of the city’s most popular dishes.

Iliana Regan, the chef and owner at Chicago’s Elizabeth as well as Bunny, the Micro Bakery, was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2016. Deemed the “Queen of Midwestern Cuisine” by Chicago magazine in 2015, playful menus like the “Lord of the Rings” and “Chronicles of Narnia” prix fixe play to Regan’s whimsical foraging sensibilities.

Cheryl Koh was named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef in 2016 for her work at Tarte and Les Amis in Singapore. She’s known for creating desserts with a cult following, thanks to her blending of French technique with Asian ingredients.

Roberta Sudbrack, head chef at eponymous restaurant Roberta Sudbrack in Rio de Janeiro, took home 2015’s Best Female Chef Latin America award, and her restaurant placed at number 13 on the World’s 50 Best Latin American restaurants list.

Kristen Kish, the second woman to win Top Chef, took home the season 10 title and a promotion to chef de cuisine at Menton in Boston, where she had worked previously. Kish has since cooked at the James Beard Foundation’s annual “Women in Whites” dinner, and, after a series of pop-ups and special appearances, is planning a new restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina.

Patti Jackson runs Brooklyn’s newly Michelin-starred Delaware and Hudson, known for serving a $58 tasting menu of mid-Atlantic cuisine sourced from local farms and fisheries. It’s frequently recognized as one of the best tasting menus in New York.

Mei Lin, the Top Chef season 12 winner, previously worked under Michael Voltaggio at LA’s Ink and went on to be included in Zagat’s 2015 “30 Under 30” list. She’s currently traveling and researching for her next big project.

Emma Bengtsson took over New York’s esteemed Aquavit just as it was bumped up to a two-star Michelin rating in 2014. Bengtsson has maintained the coveted two-star status and turned the restaurant back into a New York hot spot.

Stephanie Izard is a household name to those who cheered on the Top Chef winner — the first woman to win the title. After taking the crown in the show’s fourth season, Izard went on to create Chicago’s always-crowded Girl & the Goat and to win a Food & Wine Best New Chef award, as well as a nomination for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.

Elise Kornack is in charge of the menu at 12-seat Brooklyn restaurant Take Root, while her wife (and the restaurant’s only other employee), Anna Hieronimus, takes care of everything else. The $105 tasting menu has a Michelin star, and both restaurateurs made Zagat’s “30 Under 30” list in 2015.

Angela Dimayuga, executive chef at New York’s Mission Chinese Food, won an Eater Young Gun Award in 2015. Guests pack MCF’s dining room night after night, some having waited hours to try her imaginative menu, which melds Asian cuisines, New York favorites, and family-style specials, like Josefina’s House Special Chicken — a $75 dish inspired by her Filipino grandmother.

Dahlia Narvaez won this year’s James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef after her third nomination for the title. She cooks at Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles.

Alice Waters, the only female chef to win a Lifetime Achievement Award from Diners Club International, should be on every eater’s radar. Founder and master force behind Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, the septuagenarian chef still runs her iconic restaurant and preaches food gospel.

Nancy Silverton, winner of the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award in 2014, most recently launched Nancy’s Fancy, a supermarket sorbet and gelato company. Silverton is perhaps most recognized for her Mozza restaurants in California, which have won a slew of awards.

Lanshu Chen runs Le Moût in Taichung, Taiwan, ranked 30th on the “Asia’s 50 Best” list. She was named Veuve Clicquot Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2014 and is a master of haute cuisine.

Anita Lo revived her restaurant, Annisa, after a kitchen fire destroyed the original site in 2009. The Top Chef alum went on to earn three stars from the New York Times in 2014, and Annisa continues to top lists of the city’s best restaurants and dishes.

Amanda Cohen, chef at New York’s Dirt Candy, earned the first-ever two-starred New York Times review of a vegetarian restaurant with her creative, vegetable-centric menu. She’s also the author of Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, a best-selling graphic novel and cookbook unlike any other.

Lidia Bastianich, whose face you may recognize from her line of grocery-store Italian products or one of her several cookbooks, is the driving force behind some of New York’s most prominent Italian restaurants, including Becco, Esca, and Del Posto. A winner of countless awards, Bastianich received the 1999 Best Chefs in America award from the James Beard Foundation, and then earned 2002’s Outstanding Chef Award as well.

Alex Raij runs the Michelin-starred Brooklyn tapas restaurant La Vara and released a cookbook this spring, The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes From the Kitchen of Txikito.

Chloe Coscarelli became the first vegan chef to win a major TV culinary competition, on Cupcake Wars. Following her win, Coscarelli went on to author three cookbooks and open New York’s vegan fast food sensation, by CHLOE, which expanded to Los Angeles this year.

Jessica Koslow is the founder of Los Angeles’s trendy Sqirl, a restaurant too cool for spelling and cool enough to maintain a long line for its excellent yet simple breakfast staples. One must-try is Koslow’s Famous Damus Sandwich, made with soft scrambled eggs, prosciutto, and arugula on ciabatta.

And that’s just for starters. Beyond these leading female chefs of recent awards and newsworthiness, consider the expanded list below of even more ladies who cook. Some are already famous, some are up-and-coming, and all are serious pros worthy of attention. This list is hardly comprehensive, so feel free to share more names and recommendations in responses to this post!

Even More Female Chefs!

Jody Adams, recently of Rialto, Boston
Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, Georgia
Michelle Bernstein, recently of Cena by Michy, Miami
Gabriela Cámara, Cala, San Francisco
Joanne Chang, Flour bakeries, Boston
Esther Choi, mokbar, NYC
Ashley Christensen, Death and Taxes, Raleigh, North Carolina
Leah Cohen, Pig & Khao, NYC
Soa Davies, Maple, NYC
Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, OX, Portland, Oregon
Rachel Dow, The Betty, Chicago
Susan Feniger, Mud Hen Tavern, Los Angeles
Alex Guarnaschelli, Butter, NYC
Carla Hall, Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen, NYC
Vivian Howard, Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, North Carolina
Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Jenn Louis, Lincoln, Portland, Oregon
Barbara Lynch, Menton, Boston
Nancy Oakes, Boulevard, San Francisco
Naomi Pomeroy, Beast, Portland, Oregon
Anne Quatrano, Star Provisions, Atlanta
Ann Redding, Uncle Boons, NYC
Missy Robbins, Lilia, Brooklyn
Rassamee Ruaysuntia, Langbaan, Portland, Oregon
Carolina Santos-Neves, Colonia Verde, NYC
Mindy Segal, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, Chicago
Lydia Shire, Scampo, Boston
Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita, Kirkland, Washington
Rita Sodi, Via Carota, NYC
Mutsuko Soma, recently of Miyabi 45th, Seattle
Ana Sortun, Oleana, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Jody Williams, Via Carota, NYC