Not Female Chefs... Just Chefs

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Mollie Kaufmann of the restaurant Little Pearl in Washington, D.C. to shed some light on the “controversial” topic of being a female leader in what has been a predominantly male-led industry.

“I think there are a lot more female chefs than people realize, and I think there are a lot more female chefs behind male restaurateurs than people may realize,” says Kaufmann.

She goes on to explain that the way traditional kitchens operate does not need to change to accommodate a chef, just because that chef happens to be a woman. The only thing that needs to evolve is the industry's ability to even the playing field. To lead a successful kitchen, there must be mutual respect and a positive work environment. Chef Mollie explains that it hasn’t been an easy journey but that has not stopped her from becoming a lead chef at a highly rated restaurant.

“The end goal is the food and your experience as a guest, and it shouldn’t matter if a man cooked it or a woman cooked it or whomever,” says Kaufmann.

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation with Chef Kaufmann about her journey and her advice on how to grow into a flourishing chef and team leader in today’s industry, regardless of whether you are male or female.

Hosted by:

Jim Berman


Expert Columnist / Show Host


Dominique Crenn Speaks Out About the Challenges Plaguing Chefs Today

Dominique Crenn is one of the world's greatest culinary masterminds. She has repeatedly landed on in the top five of our Top 100 chefs list and is the top woman chef on this coveted list.

She is also the only female chef in the U.S. to have earned three Michelin stars for her renowned restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, CA.

And her list of achievements just goes on.

She has appeared in the popular Netflix documentary series Chef's Table, was named Esquire’s “Chef of the Year” in 2008, Eater's chef of the year in 2015, won the Iron Chef America competition in 2012, and was given a James Beard Award for Best Chef just this year.

Like most female chefs in this male-dominated industry, there have been challenges.

"When I started to work in the kitchen, there's not a lot of women that were working and I didn't try to pay attention to that," said Crenn to "NPR." "I had to work harder than others and I was a bit picked on sometimes. But I'm a very strong person. Nobody touched me."

Although she is deemed one of the greatest chefs today, Crenn still is treated differently because she is a woman.

"She has been successful because she does have talent and she has worked hard. But let's be honest, also because she has enormous charisma. She's beautiful and has that French accent," said Michael Buer, San Francisco restaurant critic to "The New York Times" who also said, "she cooks the way men are cooking."

Crenn, rightfully so, saw these comments as "degrading."

"I think he never should have said that. ... Saying that about me is a little bit degrading. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that should not be a factor in anything. And yes, charisma — what is charisma? I'm trying to be genuine every time I speak or every time I'm out there. Maybe you call it charisma, but this is who I am," said Crenn to "NPR."

But thanks to the #MeToo movement and strong leaders like Crenn, the industry is changing for the better. Crenn humbly recognizes that she is making a difference.

"I am just a little fish in the sea. But I do understand that everything that I do could have a little impact," said Crenn.

Read Crenn's full interview at "NPR" now.

We recently interviewed another chef and restaurant operator Jennifer Kim making a name for herself as a female leader in the industry. Her restaurant in Chicago named Passerotto opened last year with the goal of serving a modern take on traditional Korean food. Watch the video below to learn more about her journey in the restaurant industry.

Dominique Crenn Develops New Restaurant and Bar Focused on Wine

Dominique Crenn Develops New Restaurant and Bar Focused on Wine

Late next month, Dominique Crenn will be opening her third restaurant, Bar Crenn, directly next to her first. Two-Michelin-star Atelier Crenn has long been known for its avant-garde cuisine inspired by traditional French fare.

Bar Crenn will offer a contrast to the new age restaurant with more casual bites. Though she says, she will be heading in the direction of classic French—specifically, dishes she grew up with as a child in Brittany. In an Instagram post earlier this month, Crenn announced that chefs like Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, and other three-Michelin-starred chefs will be contributing recipes to the menu of shareable plates next to a number of original recipes from the restaurant. Plates to be expected include tarte flambee, pomme soufflée, and Petit Crenn’s own omelette à l’oursin,

The wine list at Bar Crenn is expected to be the greatest differentiator of Bar Crenn with Matt Montrose, wine director of Atelier Crenn, putting together a wine list that skews French and European. There will be low-ABV cocktails as well, which Crenn says will be a nod to French aperitifs.

Barr Crenn will share a courtyard with Atelier Crenn. The design is described as homey and warm.

“This is more than a wine bar, it’s my living room,” says Crenn. “It’s elegant and it’s warm and thoughtful. We want people to experience the best hospitality there, too.”

The new space will also serve as a starting place and end point for Atelier Crenn diners, where they can begin their meal with an aperitif, and finish with dessert and coffee. For those interested in a more casual environment, Crenn says the full tasting menu from Atelier Crenn will be available to a limited number of diners each night.

The long-awaited spin-off will open February 20th.

Read more at “Robb Report.”

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The Female Chefs Reigning Over the Culinary Industry

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.

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Once in a Lifetime Experience: Dining with the Michelin Stars

Once in a Lifetime Experience: Dining with the Michelin Stars

Seeking out the best restaurants in the world is a passion of all foodies. We read reviews, listen to critics and friends, and establish our own opinions and standards. And when the Michelin Guide, the prevalent rating system in the world that awards 0 to 3 stars of excellence each year, comes out and we make sure that restaurants that have received the coveted stars are on our lists.

With just over 100 Three Star Michelin restaurants around the world, and maybe double that number of Two Star Michelin restaurants, these are some of the greatest chefs in the world and restaurants worth visiting.  But, it can also be a costly venture for foodies. In fact, for approximately $275,000 per couple, a UK company offers a travel package that takes guests on a six month journey around the world to eat at each of the 107 Three Star Michelin restaurants. 

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