for work or pleasure, the practice of dining out often exposes us to new
flavours or taste experiences. This is especially the case for those who travel
to other countries, and encountering restaurants where the cooking has made a deep
impression. The fact that many of these top tables are helmed by incredibly
driven and talented women is a bonus.
Women’s Day is on March 8. To celebrate the achievements of female
culinary professionals, we’re acknowledging this short list of inspirational
women who are well known in the culinary community but not yet household names.
Although their splurge-worthy restaurants are worth travelling for, we’ve also
some great alternatives at The Food District that will
help satisfy those taste buds in the interim.
Garima Arora, Gaa
Mumbai-born Arora serves modern eclectic cuisine based on Indian traditions at the restaurant she co-owns in Bangkok. As the first Indian female chef to earn a Michelin star, Asia’s Best Female Chef 2019 uses fire, pickling, fermentation, and different oils – peanut, coconut, sesame – to coax flavours from foods. Those efforts and her training at renowned Noma restaurant show up as fish sauce, lychee sake or split pea miso that the kitchen preserves using seasonal indigenous Thai ingredients on Gaa’s progressive 10-plus course tasting menu.
The Food District option: See how infused oils from Kingston Olive Oil Co can add pizazz to even the humblest of dishes.
Top Hong Kong chef Vicky Lau (Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015) is celebrated for the edible stories she creates at Michelin-lauded Tate Dining Room. The former graphic designer imparts subtle and refined touches to everything at the restaurant from a polished dining room to the intricate ultra-refined French cuisine that pay homage to her Chinese heritage. This is where you’ll experience dishes like wagyu beef tenderloin with herbal beef bouillon or a baked apple soufflé with jasmine ice cream.
The Food District option: Uncle Tetsu’s delightfully fluffy Japanese cheesecakes also employ the technique used to make airy French soufflés in another successful East-meets-West culinary mashup.
a decade, Pía León shared the accolades at Central with her husband, notable Peruvian
chef Virgilio Martinez. But two years ago Latin America’s Best Female Chef 2018
emerged into the spotlight as a solo restauranteur with Kjolle, a warm and slightly
less rigid restaurant than the flagship, serving seasonal ingredients sourced
from the country’s many ecosystems. The thoughtfully composed and delicious
courses might start with earthy maca (Peruvian ginseng) bread that’s served
with an akee-like cocona spread then volley into a gorgeous dish of river
prawns and orzo that’ve been folded into ethereal mashed loche (squash) and
shielded by a chip dusted with salsa-like tomato and seaweed powder.
The Food District option: Discover new flavours at Arvinda’s Spices & Chai which sources the ingredients used in their spice blends from Canada whenever possible.
When it comes to creating food that tastes like
home, Sánchez’s inspired tacos are quite possibly the best in Europe. The
former Chicagoan is best known for her acclaimed Mexican outposts – a
restaurant and two taquerias – in Copenhagen, plus her stints as pastry chef at
New York’s WD-50 and top-table Noma. From fresh masa that’s made into tortillas
to Mexican-style cheeses, Sánchez ensures that food served are not only of
high-quality but true to her native cuisine. Go for the tacos and mescal-based
cocktails, but stay for the open-faced cinnamon churro sandwich that’s topped
with Mexican vanilla bean frozen parfait, bitters whipped cream and orange
The Food District option: Check out La Carnita for their gentrified takes on the popular tacos and crema-drizzled street corn.
Renée Suen is a Toronto-based
restaurant and travel writer/photographer who searches the world for memorable
tastes and the stories behind the plate. She is a columnist at SingTao’s EliteGen magazine, a regular
contributor to Toronto Life and WestJet Magazine, and has works in AFAR, Best Health, Bon Appétit, CBC Life, enRoute, The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star Travel.