March 8 is International Women's Day, celebrating the cultural, social, economic and political achievements of women around the world.
We want to thank and honor the following championed chefs—a mere drop in the culinary world bucket—for overcoming obstacles and taking their restaurants to top-tier status, becoming both heroes and role models for chefs of the past, present and future generations to come.
Anne-Sophie PicPic, Three-MICHELIN-Star, Valence, France
Anne-Sophie Pic is third-generation chef/owner of the eponymous restaurant housed in boutique hotel Maison Pic in Valence, France. Steeped in history, Pic first earned Three MICHELIN Stars back in 1934. After her father’s death in 1992, the restaurant lost it’s third star. Determined—and with no formal training—Anne-Sophie took the kitchen reins in 1997; the restaurant regained Three-MICHELIN-Star status a decade later and continues to be an exemplary fine-dining establishment.
Though she continues the attention to detail and quest for perfection practiced by her father and grandfather, her stints in America and Japan have given her approach to food a more delicate touch. Anne-Sophie also owns five other restaurants, Two-MICHELIN-Starred Restaurant Anne-Sophie Pic in Lausanne, Switzerland; and MICHELIN-Starred La Dame de Pic, which has locations in Paris (with One Star), Megève (with One Star), Singapore (with One Star), and in London (with 2 stars).
Elena ArzakArzak, Three-MICHELIN-Star, San Sebastián, Spain
As the fourth-generation successor of Three MICHELIN-Starred restaurant Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain, Elena Arzak runs a tight ship together with her father, Juan Mari. Having trained at top restaurants such as at La Maison Troisgros, Le Louis XV under Alain Ducasse, Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire and elBulli, Elena now continues her father’s style of modern Basque cuisine, a refined take on traditional Northern Spanish fare such as meats and fish grilled over coals and hearty lamb stews.
Her playroom is a laboratory above the restaurant, where she and the kitchen team work on innovative ideas to intensify the flavors in a dish. Imagine, for instance, freeze-drying mussels and creating a powder for a deep umami hit. Under her leadership, nearly three-quarters of the chefs in the San Sebastián restaurant are women.
Annie FéoldeEnoteca Pinchiorri, Three-MICHELIN-Star, Florence, Italy
The French-born Annie Féolde is the first Italian woman to lead a restaurant—Enoteca Pinchiorri—to achieve Three MICHELIN Stars. While her husband looks after the wine cellar—the restaurant is well-stocked with over 70,000 bottles—Féolde holds court in the kitchen, serving Tuscan cuisine with a modern twist in the heart of Florence. Spelt soup, for instance, is served with a skewered red prawn wrapped in Parma ham and a bay leaf.
Hélène DarrozeHélène Darroze at The Connaught, Three-MICHELIN-Star, London, England
Hélène Darroze's parents ran a One-MICHELIN-Starred restaurant in the small town of Villeneuve-de-Marsan in France, sparking her commitment to using only the best produce, such as local white bamboo shoots and foie gras. Darroze’s first stint at a restaurant was under acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse, who spotted her talent. Today, Darroze owns five restaurants, including Jòia par Hélène Darroze in Paris, One-MICHELIN-Starred Hélène Darroze à Villa La Coste in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, Three-MICHELIN-Starred Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London, and her Two-Starred eponymous restaurant "Marsan" in Paris.
Dominique CrennAtelier Crenn, Three-MICHELIN-Star, Green Star, San Francisco, U.S.A
The Versailles, France-born chef, who flew under the wings of Jeremiah Tower at the venerable Stars in San Francisco, is known for her bold and creative culinary techniques at her Three-Starred Atelier Crenn in the Marina neighborhood in the Golden Gate City. Describing her cuisine as “poetic culinaria,” Crenn is an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, continually championing her fellow female chef comrades in the midst of changing the Bay Area’s dining scene with her One-MICHELIN-Starred and Green-Starred bar.
Nadia SantiniDal Pescatore, Three-MICHELIN-Star, Runate, Italy
Though Dal Pescatore, a traditional Italian restaurant in Runate, Italy, has held Three MICHELIN Stars since 1996, few would believe head chef Nadia Santini never went through formal culinary training.
The chef, who has said to have inspired younger chefs like Clare Smyth and Anne-Sophie Pic, holds vivid memories of being in the kitchen with her mother, as well as learning recipes and techniques from her husband’s grandmother.
Clare SmythCORE by Clare Smyth, Three-MICHELIN-Star, London, England
Twenty-nine-year-old Clare Smyth took over Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous restaurant along Chelsea’s Royal Hospital Road in 2007, earning praise from the notoriously difficult chef and and maintaining its Three MICHELIN Star status until she departed in 2015.
Smyth opened her 60-seater restaurant in Notting Hill in the summer of 2017. Smyth was awarded Two MICHELIN Stars in the MICHELIN Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2019 selection and Three MICHELIN Stars in the 2021 selection. Adding to her already impressive resume, the star studded chef was chosen to cater Prince Harry and Meghan's post-Royal Wedding reception at Frogmore House.
Suzette GreshamAcquerello, Two-MICHELIN-Star, San Francisco, U.S.A
Gresham first found her passion for the culinary arts while planting vegetables and fruits and learning the valuable technique of canning and preserving with her French grandmother in her hometown of San Carlos, California. Years later, she would assume a head chef position at the wildly popular The Donatello Hotel. In 1989, Gresham, with partner Giancarlo Paterlini, opened Acquerello in July of 1989. Known as one of the best fine dining restaurants in the U.S., Acquerello gained its First MICHELIN Star when the guide arrived in the Bay Area in 2007, and earned a Second Star in 2015.
Stéphanie Le QuellecLa Scène, Two-MICHELIN-Star, Paris, France
Stéphanie Le Quellec's passion for cooking began as a child and carried through years at Le Cinq at the Hotel George-V in Paris, then to Terre Blanche in the south of France, and on to the show Top Chef.
Today at Two MICHELIN Star La Scène, Stéphanie Le Quellec serves an incredible range of seemingly simple dishes that are actually thought out in greatest detail: magnificent Dublin Bay prawns with buckwheat and a blancmange made from the claws.
Niki Nakayaman/naka, Two-MICHELIN-Star, Los Angeles, U.S.A
Niki Nakayama grew up in Los Angeles, attended culinary school in Pasadena, and spent three years in Japan, where she cooked at Shirakawa-Ya Ryokan in Niigata, a country inn specializing in kaiseki. In 2011, she opened Two MICHELIN Star n/naka in LA, where she works with her wife, sous chef Carole Iida. Nakayama is a proud pioneer in the modern kaiseki tradition, yet she’s humble enough to remain a constant in her dining room, checking in on each guest to ensure their every comfort.
Vicky LauTate, Two-MICHELIN-Star, Hong-Kong
Vicky Lau is the chef-owner of Two MICHELIN Star Tate in Hong Kong. Lau grew up in HK and the US, moving back to HK after university to work in advertising. She decided to join two friends at a short basic course at Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok and became passionate about cooking, continuing her education there. In 2012 she opened Tate in Hong Kong, where she tells edible stories with an eight-course menu that treads the boundary between French and Chinese cooking in a feminine, sophisticated way.
Douce SteinerHirschen, Two-MICHELIN-Star, Sulzburg, Germany
Douce Steiner practically grew up in the kitchen at Hirschen, her parents' hotel and restaurant in Sulzburg, Germany. Steiner trained as a chef and then cooked alongside chefs such as Georges Blanc, Fritz Schilling, and Harald Wohlfahrt. Steiner and her husband, Udo Weiler, then joined her family in the kitchen. Today the restaurant has Two MICHELIN Stars. Enjoy a glass or bottle from the extensive wine menu, with some 500 different wines, then stay in one of the lovingly decorated guestrooms.
Fanny ReyL'Auberge de St-Rémy-de-Provence - Fanny Rey & Jonathan Wahid, One-MICHELIN-Star, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Not only is Fanny Rey an accomplished chef, she also spent six months in the Navy. She then went to work at Two-Starred l'Espadon Ritz in Paris and then at Three-Star (and Green Star) l'Oustau de Baumanière in Baux-de-Provence. In 2011, she was on Top Chef alongside , Stéphanie Le Quellec, and the following year she and her partner, pastry chef Jonathan Wahid, took over Auberge de la Reine Jeanne in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. In 2017, the restaurant earned One Star, and Rey was named MICHELIN's Chef of the Year.
Caterina CeraudoDattilo, One-MICHELIN-Star, Green Star, Strongoli, Italy
Caterina Ceraudo grew up on her family's farm where they produced biodynamic wine, the vines growing among ancient olive trees, and had their restaurant, Dattilo. Caterina spent her summer holidays curating the wine list at restaurant; she went on to study oenology in Tuscany, where she became passionate about cooking.
The One MICHELIN Star restaurant remains a family affair, with Caterina at the helm of the kitchen, her brother working the winery, and her sister handling marketing.
Pim TechamuanvivitKin Khao, One-MICHELIN-Star, San Francisco, U.S.A and Nahm, One-MICHELIN-Star, Bangkok, Thailand.
Pim Techamuanvivit is the chef-owner of San Francisco restaurant One MICHELIN Star Kin Khao, Bib Gourmand Nari, and Kamin, at SFO, and is the executive chef at One MICHELIN Star Nahm in Bangkok.
Techamuanvivit has lived in San Francisco since 1998, and worked as a tech consultant, was an early restaurant blogger, started a line of jams and, craving the flavors of her native Thailand, learned to cook her favorite dishes—first for herself, and then for hordes of eager San Franciscans.
Mariangela SusiganGardenia, One-MICHELIN-Star, Green Star, Caluso, Italy
For 15 years, Chef Mariangela Susigan has foraged for wild herbs and edible flowers in the Anfiteatro Morenico mountains in Piemonte, using them in old recipes to create exciting and unusual combinations. One MICHELIN Starred Gardenia occupies a late-19C house surrounded by greenery.
Enjoy a meal in this beautiful conservatory-style restaurant with its own huge vegetable plot where Susegan and her team prepare interesting cuisine with a focus on vegetables and rare species.