The Female Chefs Reigning Over the Culinary Industry

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

Out of the top 100 on our Social Chefs list, 15 are women. 

This just demonstrates that restaurant kitchens are still dominated by the male sex. Not to mention, male chefs earn an average of 28.1% more than female chefs, according to Glassdoor.

But, why is that? Is it an issue of sexism in the kitchen? Or is it that women often have to pick between advancing their careers or having children?

Nonetheless, the world is changing and now there is a new generation of female super star chefs who are changing the culinary landscape for the better.

So, we decided to highlight some of the top ladies on our list.

Dominique Crenn, Chef & Owner of Atelier Crenn | No. 5 on the Top 100 Social Chefs List

A photo posted by Leckerlee (@leckerlee) on

When you think of a woman chef, you probably think of Dominique Crenn.

She’s the only female chef in the U.S. to have earned two Michelin stars and is the visionary behind Atelier Crenn, an award-winning restaurant in San Francisco, CA. 

She has appeared in the Netflix documentary series Chef's Table, was named Esquire’s “Chef of the Year” in 2008, won the Iron Chef America competition in 2012, and her list of achievements just goes on.

"I have always been searching to discover who I am and I am still doing it. This journey has helped to reflect on what matters and what doesn't matter. My parents were very close to each other. They were married for 45 years. I believe that every human longs to build that family with someone," said Crenn in Netflix's series Chef's Table. "I am looking for that place where I can settle and I am not sure if I am there yet. It's about being on the path of learning until the end of your life. Atelier Crenn was a part of my dream, but when you realize a dream it's not a dream anymore. There are other dreams that come to you."

We were not surprised that Crenn was the first woman to appear on our Top Social Chefs list, landing at No. 5 out of the entire 100. 

As for the other top chefs, we decided to ask them all the same few questions to get an idea of how they got to where they are and where they are going.

Renee Erickson, Chef & Owner of  Seattle's The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and The Carpenter, and Barnacle | No. 18 on the Top 100 Social Chefs List

What do you attribute your culinary success to?  

Erickson: I attribute my culinary success to working with the best people I could work with.  We all know that one person can do a lot, but when you put the right group together you can do so much more.  

What is the biggest challenge you face working in a male-dominated field?

Erickson: My biggest challenge is trying to pay very little attention to this fact. Stick up for what you know is right and true, work harder than anyone else and be kind.  

Do you have any new concepts or projects in the works?

Erickson: 2017 is going to have a lot of travel, and hopefully some time to reflect and think about the future. I am traveling with my Husband to Italy for a month and I am looking forward to learning and cooking in Italy.

Ana Sortun, Chef & Owner of Boston's Oleana | No. 22 on the Top 100 Social Chefs List

What do you attribute your culinary success to?  

Sortun: Passion and true love for the business!

What is the biggest challenge you face working in a male-dominated field?

Sortun: I’ve never really felt challenged.

Do you have any new concepts or projects in the works?

Sortun: We are working on an expansion of our bakery, Sofra. 

Daniela Soto-Innes, Executive Chef at NYC's Cosme | No. 27 on the Top 100 Social Chefs List

What do you attribute your culinary success to?

Soto-Innes: I have always tried to work as hard as I could. I started to cook because of my family. If it wasn't for my family, I wouldn't be cooking. I come from a line of women who all dedicated their lives to cooking, either it was a career or not. My great grandmother went to Europe to learn how to cook and she was cooking all the time for her kids. My grandma was a manager at a bakery that was pretty important back in the day. And my mother wanted to be a chef and she went to school and everything, but decided to be a lawyer to make a better living. 

📸 @birdonbird, they find "women with certain spark" .... The girls in Cosme call it the "you better hurry up " look hah

A photo posted by Daniela Soto-Innes (@danielasotoinnes) on

Then it was also the mentors that I had. I started in hotels and I was lucky to learned from great chefs, one from Boston, one was French and another was German. I was really lucky to have these strong mentors growing up.

What is the biggest challenge you face working in a male-dominated field?

Soto-Innes: It's funny I don't see it that way. My biggest challenge is to do as much as I can with very little time. 

But my kitchen for instance, we have 70% women and 30% men and we love every guy in the kitchen. We treat everyone the same. We are lucky to live in a world at Cosme where we don't see it that way. Three of my sous chefs are guys and they are really incredible. It's more about what you do than what gender you are. 

Do you have any new concepts or projects in the works? 

Soto-Innes: We are focusing on doing a lot of outside events. The newest project we are on is Apla, it's a little diner we are opening on SoHo, hopefully by the beginning or end of February, but you know how New York is. It's a small restaurant where we will be serving simple, delicious Mexican food. We are looking to expand, one at a time.