21 of London’s Most Influential Women in Food
In celebration of International Women’s Day, The Resident takes a look at the women on top of London’s restaurant scene
Lead image: Martha Oritz of Ella Canta (photo: Pepe Molina)
1 Ruth Rogers, The River Café
Ruth Rogers’ riverside restaurant, The River Café, which she co-founded with the late Rose Gray, has a Michelin star and a flawless reputation – for good reason. The two women were not professional chefs, but fell in love with the simplicity of domestic Italian cooking. American-born Ruth, who is married to architect Sir Richard Rogers, celebrated the River Cafe’s 30th birthday by publishing River Cafe 30, a recipe book full of simple yet beautiful Italian dishes.
2 Angela Hartnett, Murano
After starting out in the kitchens at Aubergine, Zafferano, L’Oranger and Petrus, Angela Hartnett became head chef at Petrus within seven short months, helping the restaurant to achieve a Michelin star. She went on to launch MENU and The Grill Room at The Connaught with Gordon Ramsay, and in 2007 was awarded an MBE for services to the hospitality industry. The following year she opened her own restaurant, the Michelin-starred Murano in Mayfair, followed by Cafe Murano in St James’s in 2012.
3 Martha Ortiz, Ella Canta
Transporting her unique blend of visionary artistry and authentic modern Mexican cooking to her restaurant Ella Canta, Martha Ortiz is a Mexican chef who has brought the beauty, vibrancy and spirit of modern Mexico to life through her food. She is regarded as a visionary, who’s food is a response to the colours, textures, stories and spirit of her beloved country.
4 Hélène Darroze, The Connaught
Hélène Darroze, named Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef 2015, has two Michelin stars at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, as well as one Michelin star for her Paris restaurant. In a 2015 interview with The Resident, Hélène said, ‘I think female chefs are more instinctive and less technical than men. Women want to show a bit about themselves and their lives while the guys just want to show off their skills.’
5 Kim Woodward, 100 Wardour Street
Kim Woodward, a protege of Gordon Ramsay, was named head chef of The Savoy Grill in April 2015, the first time that a woman had bossed the kitchen in the restaurant’s 126-year history. In summer 2017, Kim was made Executive Chef at Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall, and in 2018 moved on to the same role at 100 Wardour Street. The Cheshire-born chef has also worked at the Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri, Boxwood Café at the Berkeley Hotel, Gordon Ramsay Plane Food at Heathrow Terminal 5, and York & Albany, Camden.
6 Monica Galetti, Mere Restaurant
Monica Galetti is a familiar face on our TV screens, as presenter and judge on MasterChef: The Professionals and co-presenter of BBC2’s Amazing Hotels – Life Beyond the Lobby with Giles Coren. Galetti moved to London in 1999 to work for Michel Roux Jr. at two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche, and soon became the first female sous chef at Le Gavroche. In 2017 she opened her first restaurant in London Mere, together with her husband David.
7 Skye Gyngell, Spring at Somerset House
Skye Gyngell is one of London’s most respected chefs. Having trained in Sydney and Paris, she moved to London to work at The French House before earning a Michelin star at Petersham Nurseries. Skye has written four cook books and opened her first solo restaurant, Spring (which has a critically-acclaimed a la carte menu) in a restored 19th-century drawing room within Somerset House in late 2014.
8 Helena Puolakka, Aster & Skylon
Helena Puolakka is currently juggling the roles of Executive Chef at D&D London’s Skylon on the Southbank and Chef-Patron Aster in Victoria. The menu at Aster blends the Nordic cuisine of Helena’s Finnish heritage with the classic French techniques she has refined over her career, which has seen her work with Pierre Koffmann at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant, La Tante Claire, and Pierre Gagnaire at his eponymous three-Michelin-starred restaurant at Hotel Balzac, Paris.
9 Catherine Salway & Andrea Waters, Redemption
Flying the flag for females running their own businesses, are the founders of Redemption, Catherine Salway and Andrea Waters. The all-vegan, alcohol-free restaurants (located in Notting Hill, Shoreditch and Covent Garden) are the brain-child of Catherine, ex-Virgin Group Brand Director, and Executive Chef Andrea, who is an experienced restaurateur, vegan and raw chef, and nutrition expert. Redemption’s ethos is firmly rooted in caring for oneself, the planet and animals.
10 Elizabeth Haigh, Kaizen House
Founding head chef at Pidgin, Elizabeth Haigh guided the Hackney neighbourhood favourite to a Michelin star barely a year after opening. Her dishes have been described as unique, global and understated, fusing her Singaporean-British heritage and broad cooking experience with a passion for travel. In 2016, she founded Kaizen House with the view to building her own restaurants and incorporating the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement.
11 Sabrina Ghayour, Chef & Food Writer
British-Iranian chef and food writer Sabrina Ghayour is a self-taught cook and multi-award winning, 3-time best-selling author who made her name hosting the hugely popular Sabrina’s Kitchen supper club in London. Sabrina has become a ‘go to’ for Persian and Middle-Eastern recipes, history and ingredient wisdom; has a column in the National Geographic Food Magazine and is a regular contributor to Olive Magazine.
12 Irha Atherton, The Social Company
Irha Atherton, wife of chef Jason Atherton, is Co-Director of The Social Company, overseeing all back-office operations behind some of London’s most popular restaurants, including Pollen Street Social, Social Eating House and Berners Tavern. She is a huge supporter of several charities including the MSY Charitable Foundation, Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, Hospitality Action and Action Against Hunger.
13 Sandia Chang, bubbledogs
Sandia Chang is Sommelier at both bubbledogs, which was awarded Wine List of the Year by Imbibe magazine in 2013 and a one-star award from World of Fine Wines in 2016, and Michelin-starred Kitchen Table, where her husband James Knappett is Head Chef (the duo opened bubbledogs together). Sandia is a regular wine presenter on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, and in 2018 she was awarded Best Front of House at the GQ Food and Drink Awards.
14 Laure Patry, The Social Company
Laure Patry trained at catering school in the Loire Valley and completed her advanced sommelier course in 2000. The same year, Laure was offered a contact at The Angel in North Yorkshire, then became assistant head sommelier at Gordon Ramsay in Claridge’s in 2003, and helped launch Maze and Maze Grill, training her own team of sommeliers. In 2011, she joined Jason Atherton as group head sommelier at Pollen Street Social, in June 2015 launched Atherton’s Social Wine & Tapas to critical acclaim, and has helped establish Atherton’s operations in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shang-hai.
15 Kelly Choi and Silla Bjerrum, Sushi Daily
Kelly Choi and Silla Bjerrum are two leading ladies of the sushi world. Kelly Choi, founder of KellyDeli, has taken Sushi Daily to 750 convenient locations across Europe. Now, collaborating with Silla Bjerrum, formerly of Feng Sushi, the two have launched the first permanent site for Sushi Daily on New Oxford Street, serving fresh, high quality, sustainable sushi in a casual environment.
16 Anne-Sophie Pic, La Dame de Pic London
Anne-Sophie Pic is the only current French female chef to hold three Michelin Stars. La Dame de Pic London at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square is Anne-Sophie’s first UK restaurant, showcasing her passion for unexpected flavour combinations with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients. Only 8 months after opening, the restaurant achieved its first Michelin Star in the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2018, and it has retained it in 2019.
17 Samyukta Nair, Jamavar & Bombay Bustle
Samyukta Nair has her finger in many pies. Not only did she co-found Jamavar, the gourmet Indian restaurant with five restaurants across India and one in London, along with her father, she is also co-founder of Bombay Bustle in Mayfair. She also finds time to work with lifestyle brands Clove and Dandelion and holds down the position of Head of Interior Design & Operations at Leela Palace Hotels, a luxury Indian hotel chain established by her grandfather.
18 Marie Marchand, Frenchie Covent Garden
It is often said that behind every great man is a great woman, something that is certainly true of Marie Marchand, who is the power house behind Frenchie Covent Garden. Together with husband Greg Marchand, they have built a hugely popular Frenchie empire, bringing classic French cuisine across from Paris to various London venues.
19 Caroline Hall, Rocket Food
Caroline Hall is the co-founder of luxury London-based catering company Rocket Food, winner of the 2017 Country Life Canape of the Year award. At just 17, Caroline worked under Joyce Molyneux at The Carved Angel in Dartmouth where she was inspired by Joyce’s use of seasonal local ingredients. Now, alongside her brother Michael, Caroline’s catering company is at the forefront of creativity at some of London most exciting events.
20 Anne Lomas, Simpson’s in the Strand
Thirty-five years after women were first allowed to dine at Simpson’s in the Strand, Anne Lomas became the restaurant’s first female General Manager. Anne began working in hospitality by chance aged 18, after taking a job at a wine bar when travelling in New Zealand. She then moved to London, working at Nicolas Wine Merchant in Canary Wharf before becoming Head Sommelier at Roast, and then Restaurant Manager and Head Sommelier of TING at Shangri-La at the Shard.
21 Jeany Cronk, Mirabeau en Provence
Jeany Cronk is CEO and co-founder of the UK’s most popular rosé brand, Mirabeau en Provence. Jeany and her husband Stephen moved their family from London to the small village of Cotignac, Provence, to fulfil their dream of setting up a boutique wine business. Jeany’s passions are food and design, and she’s currently running several building projects in Cotignac, as well as dedicating herself to building a quality rosé brand that people will really love.