To be sure, being a woman in an industry that is largely male-dominated is no easy feat. Here, we pay tribute to 9 female chefs who have overcome obstacles and led their restaurants to three Michelin-star status.
Maison Pic, 285 av. Victor-Hugo, 26000 Valence, France
Anne-Sophie Pic is third-generation chef owner of her eponymous restaurant in boutique hotel Maison Pic, in Valence, south-east France. The heritage-steeped restaurant first earned three Michelin stars back in 1934, and continues to be an exemplary fine-dining establishment since Anne-Sophie took over.
Though she continues the attention to detail and quest for perfection practised by her father and grandfather, her stints in America and Japan have given her approach to food a more delicate and feminine touch.
Arzak, Av Alcalde Elósegui, 273, 20015 San Sebastián-Donostia, Guipúzcoa, Spain
As the fourth-generation successor of over three Michelin-starred restaurant Arzak, Elena Arzak runs a tight ship together with her 74-year-old 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 Northen Spanish fare such as meats and fish grilled over coals and hearty lamb stews) over at Arzak.
Sant Pau, Carrer Nou, 10, 08395 Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona, Spain
Located in Catalonia, a town between Barcelona and Girona, Sant Pau restaurant has held on to its three Michelin-starred status since 2006. And it’s largely thanks to Carme Ruscalleda, the short-haired feisty Spanish-Catalan chef who founded the restaurant together with her husband in 1988.
Having grown up on a farm, Ruscalleda brings out the best of traditional Catalonian flavours using fresh seafood and vegetables such as sweet red piquillo peppers. In 2004, Ruscalleda opened Restaurant Sant Pau in Tokyo, followed by Moments restaurant in Barcelona in 2010. Both restaurants hold two Michelin stars today.
Enoteca Pinchiorri, Via Ghibellina 87, 50122 Firenze, Italy
She might have been born in France, but Annie Féolde is the owner of three Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri, a restaurant recognised as being the standard for Italian fine dining in Florence.
Dal Pescatore, Canneto sull'Oglio, 46013 Runate, Italy
Dal Pescatore is a traditional Italian bistro that has held three Michelin stars since 1996, yet few would believe head chef Nadia Santini never went through formal culinary training. Instead, her recipes and cooking techniques were taught by her husband’s mother and grandmother, though Santini has since refined the “mama’s cooking” style. She is said to have inspired younger chefs such as Clare Smyth and Anne-Sophie Pic.
Al Sorriso, Via Roma 18, 28010 Soriso Italy
When Luisa Marelli Valazza and her husband bought the restaurant in 1981, they didn’t count on the former head chef to throw in his apron and walk out on them. But the pair rallied quickly, and worked together to achieve a Michelin star within their first year of taking over.
Not many chefs can hold their own against infamous hothead Gordan Ramsay, much less earn a sincere compliment from the man himself. UK chef Clare Smyth checks both boxes, with Ramsay calling her “the most prominent female chef of our generation” in an interview with Evening Standard last year.
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Carlos Pl., Mayfair W1K 2AL, London
Hélène Darroze is a chef who plays by the rules – of the seasons, that is. Growing up with parents who ran a one Michelin-starred restaurant in the small town of Villeneuve-de-Marsan in France sparked her commitment to using only the best produce, such as local white bamboo shoots and foie gras.
Atelier Crenn, 3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
Dominique Crenn is the first female chef from North America to lead her restaurant - Atelier Crenn in San Francisco – to two Michelin stars.