In celebration for Women's History Month, we will be spotlighting key female figures of the hospitality industry. These female chefs have not only changed how people see food, but also the way women are viewed in the industry that is dominated by men.
#1: Julia Child
A name that should never be left out of the discussion is none other than the legendary Julia Child. The world-famous chef attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she developed her love and talent for French cuisine. She went on to write over a handful of cookbooks and star in TV cooking shows, including the highly successful, The French Chef. Child, one of the first females chefs to be appear on television, paved the way for other women to create and produce their own cooking programs. In 1993, Child was inducted in the Culinary Institute of America's Hall of Fame, being the first woman to receive the honor.
#2: Lidia Bastianich
Another female chef that needs to be acknowledged for her culinary prowess is Lidia Bastianich. Young Lidia and her family immigrated to the United States, and opened up their own Italian restaurant in 1971 called Buonovia. It was a huge hit, so soon after they opened a second called Villa Secondo. Ten years later in 1981, Bastianich opened her own restaurant called Felidia, which earned a three star review from the New York Times. Bastianich was the first woman chef to gain such recognition. Like Child, Bastianich has been active in TV cooking shows throughout her career. She continues to run multiple NYC dining establishments with her son, Joe, and Mario Batali, under Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group.
#3: Alice Waters
Alice Waters is famously known for pioneering and founding California cuisine. Waters started her culinary journey with a trip to France in 1964. There she fell in love with cooking with fresh, local and organic ingredients. She then returned back to the States and opened Chez Panisse in 1971. In 1992, Waters received two awards, the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef (a first for a female) and the Best Restaurant Award for Chez Panisse.
#4: Cat Cora
Coming from a family of restauranteurs, Cat Cora had a lot to live up to. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree, she enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America to refine her culinary skills. In 2005, she made history for becoming the first female and only, Iron Chef champion. In addition to TV appearances, Cora has opened several high-profile restaurants, such as Ocean by Cat Cora in Singapore and Cora's Kitchen at airport terminals in Houston, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Cora continues to be involved with Chefs of Humanity, which raises money for causes like nutrition education, hunger relief and humanitarian aid to reduce hunger worldwide.
#5: Cristeta Comerford
Filipino-born Cristeta Comerford achieved the American Dream, much like Bastianich and her family. At 23, she moved to United States for better opportunities. Her first job was at the Sheraton Hotel near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. She also held positions at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and as a chef in two Washington, D.C. restaurants. In 1995, Comerford was recruited by Walter Scheib, the White House executive chef, to work under Bill Clinton's presidency. He left in 2005, and she went on to assume his role, becoming the first female executive chef of the White House, and the first of Asian descent.