Women's Day 2024: 7 Michelin-Starred Chefs Who Inspire The World

International Women's Day stands as a poignant celebration of the indomitable spirit, resilience, and boundless capabilities of women across the globe. As we delve into the world of these culinary maestros, we unravel narratives of dedication, passion, and a relentless pursuit of excellence that defy stereotypes and redefine success.

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The culinary landscape has undergone a transformative shift, witnessing a surge in the number of women who have dared to break through the proverbial glass ceiling of professional kitchens. This International Women's Day, we pay homage to the Michelin-starred chefs who have become the vanguards of this culinary revolution, showcasing their ingenuity, tenacity, and innovation that have transcended the realms of traditional gastronomy.

From the popular Indian chef Garima Arora to the 19th-century French chef Eugénie Brazier, here are seven Michelin-starred chefs who should be celebrated for their dedication, hard work and achievements in the culinary industry that is otherwise widely dominated by men.

Garima Arora

Garima Arora, a trailblazing Michelin-starred chef, stands as an inspiration to the culinary world. From a journalism student to a Michelin-starred chef, her success not only exemplifies excellence but also serves as a beacon for aspiring chefs. On Women's Day, let's celebrate Arora's remarkable achievements at her Bangkok-based restaurant, Gaa. She has won two Michelin stars for her restaurant, first in 2018 and second in 2023. She is one of the first Indian women to win a Michelin-starred restaurant and second to Vikas Khanna as an Indian who owns a Michelin-starred restaurant. Recently, she appeared as a judge on Masterchef India, season seven. Her restaurant, Gaa, is situated in an old traditional Thai house; however, the cuisine served there is very much old-school Indian, but with a methodical and modern twist.

Clare Smyth 

Clare Smyth, an iconic Michelin-starred chef, is a beacon of inspiration in the culinary world. As the first female chef to run a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the UK, her achievements transcend culinary. She received three Michelin stars for her restaurant, Core. Her aim behind this restaurant is to serve people from farm to table, creating a sustainable culinary environment. She grew up on the farms of Northern Ireland and it was always her passion to work with food and nature. After shifting to England at the age of 16, she started pursuing her passion and working for renowned restaurants like Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monaco. Before opening her own restaurant, she worked at Gordon Ramsay’s three-starred Michelin restaurant for 13 years. Smyth's remarkable journey and dedication to her craft make her a compelling figure to celebrate on International Women's Day.  

Nadia Santini

Nadia Santini, a culinary luminary and Michelin-starred chef, is renowned for her innovative approach to traditional Italian cuisine. Santini says that the driving force behind the acclaimed Dal Pescatore restaurant has redefined culinary excellence and the consistent hard work of the four generations of the Santini family. The restaurant was originally her husband’s grandparents, and then it was the professional kitchen, which was quite rusty in nature.

Initially, when she started off, she had no plans or desire to be a chef or work in a professional kitchen, and only after meeting with her husband’s grandparents did she form an attachment to cooking and learn how to cook from his grandmother. Later, she took over the restaurant and with her consistent hard work, she won the Michelin Star in 1996. She has completely changed Dal Pescatore and transformed into one of the best dining places in Europe.

Annie-Sophie Pic

Annie-Sophie Pic is a culinary virtuoso and bearer of three Michelin stars. She is the fourth female chef to win three Michelin stars. Renowned for her innovative flair at the helm of Maison Pic in Valence, France, her culinary prowess showcases a delicate balance of tradition and avant-garde. The restaurant, Maison Pic, was originally owned by Annie’s grandparents, Eugene and Sophie Pic from whom Annie’s father, Jacques Pic, took over, and lastly, Annie Pic took over from her brother, Alain Pic.

In 1939, under her grandfather, the restaurant won its first three prestigious Michelin stars. Though gradually the restaurant lost its two stars, Jacques Pic won back the stars. After his death, the restaurant again lost its third star, but with Annie’s taking over and dedicated hard work, the third star was soon restored. Annie-Sophie Pic has since held onto three Michelin stars and might be the only woman chef in all of France to have done so. Her signature to every dish is that she adds a feminine touch to them and often compares her creations to perfumes.

Lisa Allen

Lisa Allen, a culinary luminary and Michelin-starred chef, leads the kitchen at the acclaimed Northcote restaurant. Her innovative approach to British cuisine has garnered worldwide acclaim. As part of her achievements, she has been one of the four winners of a reality show named Great British Menu, season five, hosted by the BBC.

She gained working experience at two other restaurants in Cumbria and Cheltenham before returning to her hometown and starting work at Northcote, which was owned by Nigel Haworth. The restaurant had won the Michelin star in 1996, which was before Lisa even joined them; however, to date, she has proved her capability as an executive chef by holding firmly to the achievement. At Northcote, she is famous for her intent to emphasise local dishes that revolve around local ingredients.

Eugénie Brazier

Eugénie Brazier, also known as “la Mère Brazier” or the “mother of French cooking,"  because even after having an education of just primary school and being a single mother who was disowned by her family, at the age of 40, she rose on her own and started two restaurants, for which she received 6 Michelin stars later. She was the first woman chef to hold three Michelin stars and remains an inspiration on the global gastronomic stage.

Celebrated for her revolutionary approach to French cuisine, she broke barriers in a male-dominated industry. She was the first person to win six Michelin stars in 1933; her achievement was incomparable until Alain Ducasse won six Michelin stars in 1998. Her iconic restaurant, La Mère Brazier, became a haven for gourmet excellence, blending tradition with innovation. On International Women's Day, Eugénie Brazier's legacy as a trailblazing Michelin-starred chef calls for celebration.

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Emma Bengtsson

Emma Bengtsson, a culinary luminary, stands as a Michelin-starred Swedish chef who transcends boundaries in the gastronomic world. She won two Michelin stars for her restaurant and she was also the first Swedish female chef to win any Michelin stars. Leading the acclaimed restaurant Aquavit, she brings Scandinavian cuisine to new heights, enchanting palates globally. She wanted to become a fighter pilot but, inspired by her grandmother, she switched to being a chef, which brought her glory.