Congratulations to Iliana Regan, of Chicago's Elizabeth restaurant and Bunny, the micro bakery. But why is she the female lone ranger among the Food & Wine "Best New Chefs in America 2016?"
The coveted annual list of the most innovative up-and-coming chefs honors eleven winners, joining the ranks of previous Best New Chefs (BNC), including April Bloomfield, Nancy Silverton and Stephanie Izard. They will be featured in the July issue. The editors select the BNC following a months-long selection process. Nominations are solicited from food writers, restaurant critics and experts in the field. Then the editors travel incognito to sample each chef's menu. The innovative chefs must have been in charge of a professional kitchen for five or fewer years.
Every year I take issue with the list because so few women are selected for this prestigious, career-making honor. Could this rightfully be considered the "Food & Whine Issue?"
According to my own research, less than 16 percent -- 44 women of 287 BNC -- have been selected since the list was inaugurated in 1988. No woman was chosen in 2003. One lone ranger was selected each year from 2004 to 2007 and from 2009 to 2011, as well as in 2014 and 2016. Two women were designated each year in 2008, 2012 and 2015.
Isn't it time to turn up the heat and address this burning issue about the glace ceiling in restaurants and the "Best New Chefs" list? Let's dish and Comment below.