Food For Thought: When Will Women Chefs Get Their Just Desserts?

Princess Leia was promoted to General. But it still isn't a culinary career cakewalk for women chefs in the gastronomy galaxy.

FOOD & WINE HONORS TWO WOMEN "BEST NEW CHEFS"

For more than a decade, I've taken issue with the annual Food & Wine "Best New Chefs" list, because so few women are recognized. It could become the "Food & Whine" issue. Only 43 women of the 276 BNC -- 16 percent -- have been chosen since the list was launched in 1988. No women were selected in 2003. One lone ranger was chosen each year from 2004 to 2007 and from 2009 to 2011, as well as in 2014. Two women were named each year in 2008, 2012 and 2015. The list honors up-and-coming talents in charge a restaurant kitchen for no more than five years.

Katie Button and Zoi Anonitsas were honored among the 27th ten "Best New Chefs" in 2015. Button quit her PhD program in neuroscience and launched Curate in Asheville, N.C. Antonitsas dropped out of art school and became the chef at Westward in Seattle, WA.

Is the culinary career pipeline a pipe dream for women chefs? Enrollment at the Culinary Institute of America is now a record 49.9 percent female (www.ciachef.edu). Hopefully future culinary school graduates will soon crack the lass ceiling in the professional kitchen.

WOMEN WIN JAMES BEARD FOOD "OSCARS"

The James Beard Awards (JBA) are consdered the food industry "Oscars." Women earned top honors at the 2015 ceremony. Christina Tosi was named Outstanding Pastry Chef, Moofuku, New York City. She was a previous Rising Star Chef honoree. Tosi also became the first woman chef judge on TV's "Master Chef" and "Master Chef Junior." Jessica Largey was Rising Star Chef of the Year, chef de cuisine, two-Michelin-starred Manresa, Los Gatos, CA. Nicole Krasicki was the co-winner, Best Chef, West, Michelin-starred State Bird Provisions, San Francisco.

Leah Chase, "Queen of Creole Cuisine," will receive the JBF 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. Chase pioneered Creole cooking at her iconic New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase. She also was recognized for welcoming organizers and civil rights leaders other restaurant as a safe haven when the city's restaurants were segregated. The 2016 Awards ceremony will be in Chicago, May 2. The Book, Broadcast and Journalism Awards will take place in New York City, April 26. Information and tickets: www.jamesbeard.org/awards.

THREE WOMEN HELM MICHELIN TWO-STAR RESTAURANTS IN U.S.

Suzette Gresham, of Acquerello in San Francisco, became the third woman chef in the U.S. to be awarded two stars, in the Michelin 2015 guide. Emma Bengtsson, of Aquavit in New York City, was the second, also in 2015 guide. Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, in San Francisco, was the first, in 2013 guide. As of the 2016 editions, there are 20 two-star restaurants in the U.S.: 3 women versus 17 men chefs. Worldwide, there are six three-star women chefs, versus 112 men, and no U.S. three-star women chefs.

An article in Vanity Fair (October 2015) about New York's top chefs and the Michelin ranking system featured 13 men and no women. Not even Emma Bengtsson, executive chef at Aquavit, the second female two-star chef in the U.S. and one of only three. See Letters to Media: Vanity Fair, on my website: www.beverlywettenstein.com.

WOMEN RULE WASHINGTON KITCHEN CABINET

Two women chef-owners were named to Washingtonian magazine's "Most Powerful Women" list in 2015. Among the businesswomen honored were Ris Lacoste, Ris restaurant and Nora Pouillon, Restaurant Nora. Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, was also recognized.

HOW TO SUPPORT WOMEN CHEFS AND RESTAURATEURS

Fired up? Let's turn up the heat and melt the glace ceiling in restaurants. When will the Female Food Force awaken to enter more nominees and winners in the gastronomy galaxy not so far, far away? Suggest talented, innovative, worthy women chefs for the next Food & Wine "Best New Chefs" list and media recognition. Support and hire women chefs, restauranteurs, wait and bar staff.

PROFESSIONAL RESOURCES FOR WOMEN CHEFS AND RESTAURANTEURS

Complete information for the following resources will be posted on on my website: www.beverlywettenstein.com

James Beard Foundation Women in Culinary Leadership Grant Mentoring Program, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Fancy Food Shows, Association of Food Journalists, Cherry Bombe, Toklas Society, SHARE benefit with 25 women chefs, "Women Chefs of New York," by Nadia Arumugam.