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Who Are the Best Female Chefs? 10 U.S. Women Earn Michelin Star

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Ten visionary female chefs have achieved the coveted Michelin restaurant star. Anonymous reviewers critique the restaurants in the 2012 Michelin guides to Chicago, New York and San Francisco. One star means "very good cuisine in its category prepared to a consistently high standard." This year, the following restaurants with women chefs earned the prestigious Michelin star:

In Chicago: Carrie Nahabedian, NAHA

In New York: Missy Robbins, A Voce Madison and A Voce Columbus
April Bloomfield, The Breslin and The Spotted Pig
Anita Lo, Annisa (Annisa means "women" in Arabic)
Lo wins my personal Phoenix Rising Chef Award. She opened Annisa in 2000 and was named one of Food & Wine's "Ten Best New Chefs" in 2001. Annisa was destroyed by fire on July 4, 2009. The restaurant was closed for 10 months and reopened in 2010 when Lo became the sole owner.

In San Francisco: Mellisa Perello, Frances
Suzette Gresham-Tognetti, Acquerello
Nancy Oakes, Boulevard
Liya Lin, Terrapin Creek
Michelle Cerneant, Applewood
Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn

TWO WOMEN ON FOOD & WINE 'BEST NEW CHEFS' LIST

Jenn Louis, Lincoln Restaurant/Sunshine Tavern (Portland, Ore.) and Karen Nicolas, Equinox (Washington, D.C.) were selected among the 2012 Ten "Best New Chefs" in Food & Wine magazine. Chefs must head their own restaurant kitchen for five years or fewer.

Only 38 women -- of 240 "Best New Chefs" -- have made the list since its inception in 1988. In the last decade, one woman was selected in 2004 to 2007, 2009-2011, and two women were chosen in 2002, 2008 and 2012. Women now comprise almost half of the enrollment at the top culinary schools -- a record 47 percent at the Culinary Institute of America. Hence, more women could garner the gastronomic honor in the future.

WOMEN WIN JAMES BEARD FOOD "OSCARS"

Women honored in the 25th annual James Beard Awards ceremony at Lincoln Center include
Christina Tosi, Rising Star Chef, Momofuku Milk Bar, New York, NY and Mindy Segal, Outstanding Pastry Chef, Mindy's Hot Chocolate, Chicago.

Three women have achieved the "Outstanding Chef Award": Alice Waters, Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA, 1992; Lidia Bastianich, Felidia, New York, NY, 2002 and Judy Rodgers, Zuni Cafe, San Franciso, CA, 2004.

The next Awards Gala on May 6, 2013 is open to the public.

Information at www.JamesBeard.org and Tel: 914-231-6180.

30 TOP WOMEN CHEFS TO HOST NEW YORK BENEFIT BUFFET

More than 30 leading women chefs will host the ninth annual SHARE (Self-Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer) Tasting Buffet and Silent Auction on Monday, September 24. Each chef will have celebrity sous chefs at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Information at www.sharecancersupport.org and Tel: 212-937-5581.

FOOD PROFESSIONAL RESOURCES FOR WOMEN

Women are heating up the culinary world. If you have the passion and the appetite for a culinary career, leading organizations formed to support and advance women in the profession include:

Le Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI) was launched in 1986, in response to the all-male fine dining association, Les Amis d'Escoffier Society. Today the invitation-only membership of almost 1,400 members in 28 chapters across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, provide scholarships, mentoring and community service programs. Information at www.ldei.org.

Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR), founded in 1993 to offer networking, professional and support services, now has over 2,000 members in 20 Local Exchanges nationwide. Information on the scholarship and internship programs in member restaurants at www.womenchefs.org.

Women's Foodservice Forum ( WFF) provides events, programs and leadership development to advance women in all segments of the industry. Information at www.womensfoodserviceforum.com.

WHO ARE THE BEST WOMEN CHEFS?

Fired up? Let's dish. Who should be on the Food & Wine "Best New Chefs" list next year?

Comment here with recommendations for innovative women chefs who deserve recognition.

Why do you think so few women chefs rise to the top?

Bon Appetit!

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