01/23/2014 10:23 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

A Change In The Kitchen

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Last week at Marea, a New York haunt of the powerful and the polished, Lauren DeSteno moved up from executive sous-chef to chef de cuisine. It may sound like a mere tweak of a title, but in a small way it is revolutionary.

The promotion puts her in charge of one of the highest-earning kitchens in New York, where four male sous-chefs and 20 other cooks report to her. And though previous generations of female chefs had to fight past widespread sexism and a locker-room work culture to reach the top, at 31 Ms. DeSteno is calm, confident and entirely unsurprised by her success.

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