Even though cooking tends to look like a women’s trade, most of the famous chefs in the world are men. As International Women’s Day is celebrated in March, we would be remiss not to remember some of the women who have made history in gastronomy.
In this list, we have included women of different nationalities who have dedicated their lives to cooking and thanks to their effort and talent, climbed to positions to meet their goals and achieve recognition of experts in culinary art.
Before we share our list of important women in gastronomy, we’ll take a brief look at the history of Women’s Day.
Why is Women’s Day celebrated on March 8?
On March 8, 1908, a group of more than 100 women went on strike at a factory in New York, United States.
The women decided to protest to make sure their working hours were reduced, improve their working conditions and to receive the same pay as men who performed the same functions as them.
The situation unfortunately ended in tragedy… With the intention ending the strike, the factory owner had the doors closed with the women inside. Unfortunately, there was a fire, and the women were unable to escape.
In 1910 at the Socialist Women’s Conference on the issue of the right to vote for women, one of the leaders proclaimed March 8th as Women’ Day to honor the memory of the women who died during that strike.
Years later, in 1977, the United Nations (UN) established March 8th as International Women’s Day.
Iconic Women of Gastronomy
Eugénie Brazier (1895 – 1977)
COURTESY: THE MERE BRAZIER
This French woman was the first woman to win 3 Michelin stars, which is why she ended up on our list. Brazier founded her most famous restaurant in the city of Lyon (France) in the 1920s, which was called “La Mére Brazier” and it has enjoyed the recognition of famous characters of the time and critics.
It is said that the chicken “a la demi deuil” was the most famous dish of her restaurant and that her cuisine was characterized by being simple. “Demi deuil” means “half mourning”
and refers to taking the white part of a food and covering it with a black one. An example would be a piece of poultry meat topped with olives or black truffles.
Julia Child (1912 – 2004)
PHOTO: BY BILL ALLER / NYT / REDUX
Her legacy was to popularize French cuisine in the United States between the 1960s and 1980s. How did she do it? Through the television show “The French Chef”, which lasted more than a decade, and her book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, a bestseller that is still published today!
If you want to learn more about the life of this American woman who made history in gastronomy, you can see the film Julie & Julia in which Child is played by actress Meryl Streep.
Carme Ruscalleda (Born 1952)
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
She is a Catalan chef and author who made history by being the woman with the most Michelin stars. Can you guess how many she has received? In total 7 stars: 2 for restaurant Sant Pau in Tokyo, 2 for Moments restaurant in Barcelona and 3 for restaurant Sant Pau also in Barcelona.
In its preparations, natural foods and the flavors of Catalan culture are dominate. Although this chef was at a great time in her professional career, a few years ago she decided to retire with the satisfaction of having fulfilled her mission: to work on what she was passionate about for more than 30 years and to have excited people with her food.
Cristela Comerford (Born 1962)
PHOTO: RON EDMONDS / AP IMAGES
This Filipino was the first woman to become executive chef of the White House. Comerford held those positions during the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.
Her story is of a young emigrant who came to the United States at just 23 years old and began working as a cooking apprentice. She then worked at several restaurants in Chicago, grew professionally and was so successful that she has managed to open her own restaurant in Washington. Who would have thought that years later she would be cooking for the country’s top leaders and planning the state dinner menu!
Thus, we arrive at the end of our tour of just some of the women who have made history in gastronomy.
We believe that there are many more women who have positively impacted world cuisine and who serve as inspiration to lovers of food. However, for article duration reasons, we were only able to include some of the most important historical and contemporary figures.
Would you like us to do another article talking about the most featured chefs in each country? Tell us in the comments.