Ah, the coveted Michelin star – the little symbol that has chefs dancing on cloud nine and foodies like us eager to book a table months in advance. The Michelin Guide is like the Oscars of the restaurant world—super fancy and highly respected. Back in the day, it was all about helping travelers find great places to eat, but now, it’s THE ultimate seal of approval for a restaurant’s culinary greatness.
Now, you might wonder what it takes for a restaurant to nab that shiny star. Well, it’s no walk in the park! Michelin inspectors are like culinary ninjas—they swoop in like regular customers, discreetly assessing everything from the freshest ingredients to mind-blowing culinary techniques. If a restaurant gets a Michelin star, you know they’ve got something extraordinary going on in the kitchen.
But here’s the thing: the culinary world has been a bit of a boys’ club for a long time. Thankfully, times are changing, and we’re witnessing a delicious revolution. More and more women are donning chef hats and taking charge of their own eateries. And boy, oh boy, are they knocking it out of the park! We’re here to spread the word and celebrate these trailblazing women who are carving their path to success, one dish at a time.
Get your taste buds ready because we’ve curated a fantastic list of restaurants that are either led by incredibly talented female chefs or owned and operated by amazing women who have earned or previously held a Michelin star.
One Michelin Star Restaurants
Co-owner Monique Black – Chez Noir, Carmel-By-The-Sea
When the pandemic hit, it was a turning point for Chef Jonny and his wife Monique Black. They took a leap of faith and dared to dream bigger. They stumbled upon a golden opportunity to open their own restaurant in Carmel. Chez Noir operates out of the Black’s Craftsman-style residence in the picturesque coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea – yup these guys literally live upstairs, Bob’s Burger style! The menu features a fusion of French bistro delights and the coastal bounty of California, with seafood taking center stage. Chez Noir earned a Michelin star in 2023.
Co-owner Lauren Pretty – Heritage, Long Beach
Lauren Pretty is the passionate owner and operator of Heritage, where her brother Philip serves as the Executive Chef. Sustainability and ethical foodways are her driving force, evident in every aspect of Heritage – from zero-waste commitments to locally sourced menus, earning them certification as Green and Blue by the city of Long Beach. As a Long Beach native, Lauren’s culinary journey began at just 17, working her way up from host to bartender at Pizzeria Ortica. Her dedication led her to high-profile fine dining at Hinoki & the Bird. While studying Communication Studies at California State University, Long Beach, Lauren managed a local restaurant. In 2020, she joined forces with her brother to open Heritage, a dream come true in her hometown. In 2023, the sibling duo earned a Michelin star for their restaurant Heritage!
Chef Nancy Silverton – Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, Chef Nancy Silverton reigns as a culinary force, with several Italian restaurants under her belt. Osteria Mozza, one of her gems, earned a Michelin star in 2009, shortly after its celebrated opening. Nancy’s innovative take on cheese dishes captured hearts, leading to a James Beard Foundation nomination for best new restaurant. The Michelin guide soon followed suit, recognizing Osteria Mozza’s excellence with its well-deserved star. Nancy also received a Michelin Green star for Osteria Mozza and a gold star from us for being a Story Plate Culinary Contributor!
Chef Pim Techamuanvivit – Kin Khao & Nari, San Francisco
Chef Pim Techamuanvivit is the culinary powerhouse behind Kin Khao and Nari in San Francisco. From Thailand to Silicon Valley, her culinary journey is nothing short of amazing. Passionate about food, she began writing and reporting about food in 2005, setting her on the path to becoming a professional chef. Now, her restaurants are culinary wonders showcasing her skill of combining traditional Thai cooking with Californian ingredients to produce amazing contemporary Thai dishes. Kin Khao earned a Michelin star in 2015 and Nari earned a Michelin star in 2023.
Chef Melissa Perello – Frances, San Francisco
Chef Melissa Perello, a Story Plate Culinary Contributor and culinary prodigy started her journey early working in a country club’s kitchens while still in high school. A fateful dining experience at Aqua in San Francisco changed her life, as professionals there recognized her talent and offered her a spot in their kitchens. Impressing everyone with her skills, she later honed her craft at the Culinary Institute of America before making waves in the professional world. Notably, she oversaw Fifth Floor, which earned its Michelin star in 2006 for its modern American cuisine. In 2009, Melissa opened Frances, wowing diners with modern dishes infused with California’s local flavors, earning her another well-deserved Michelin star.
Chef Nancy Oakes – Boulevard, San Francisco
Chef Nancy Oakes’ culinary journey began at the Mad Hatter under the guidance of Pat O’Shea. Her solo venture, L’Avenue, opened in 1988 and left a lasting impact on San Francisco’s food scene. After its success, Nancy’s next masterpiece, Boulevard, found its home in a historic building that survived a devastating earthquake. The restaurant gained widespread acclaim, earning Nancy consecutive nominations for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef award until she finally won in 2001. In 2009, Boulevard earned its own well-deserved Michelin star, solidifying Nancy Oakes’ position as a true culinary legend.
Chef Liya Lin – Terrapin Creek Cafe, Bodega Bay
Seeking a slower pace of life, Chef Liya Lin and her partner discovered their perfect haven in Bodega Bay. Embracing their love for cooking, they took over an existing restaurant and transformed it into the renowned Terrapin Creek Cafe. The cafe’s dishes are a delightful fusion of flavors from California’s diverse cultures, celebrating the state’s rich culinary heritage. Their exceptional culinary artistry earned them a Michelin star in 2011.
Chef Nicole Krasinski – State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Chef Nicole Krasinski (another amazing Story Plate Culinary Contributor) and her husband, both culinary prodigies, joined forces to create State Bird Provisions. The unique name pays homage to a signature dish involving California’s state bird from a previous restaurant. After a brief closure for remodeling, they reopened to the exciting news of receiving a Michelin star in 2014. Together, they’ve turned State Bird Provisions into a culinary gem, captivating taste buds and hearts alike.
Chef Beverly Kim – Parachute, Chicago
From a young age, Chef Beverly Kim dreamt of becoming a chef. Her proactive approach led to internships under renowned chefs while still in high school. Graduating with determination, she honed her skills at various restaurants, some already holding Michelin status. In 2014, Beverly and her husband realized their dream, opening Parachute. Their culinary prowess earned them a coveted Michelin star in 2016.
Two Michelin Star Restaurants
Chef Emma Bengtsson – Aquavit, New York
Story Plate Culinary Contributor and culinary trailblazer, Chef Emma Bengtsson, hails from Sweden. At Aquavit, a restaurant showcasing Nordic cuisine, Emma made her mark as the head chef, earning the restaurant its first Michelin star. Breaking barriers, she became only the second woman in the field to win two stars for a restaurant in the US. Her passion and skill have left an indelible mark on the culinary world, making her a true inspiration for aspiring chefs everywhere.
Chef Niki Nakayama – n/naka, Los Angeles
Born in Koreatown, Los Angeles, Chef Niki Nakayama’s culinary journey was influenced by her parents’ work in fish distribution. Her early start in a sushi restaurant, alongside culinary arts classes in Pasadena, sparked her passion for Japanese cuisine. A three-year immersive journey throughout Japan honed her skills, especially in traditional Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Inspired by artisans’ techniques, she founded n/naka, focusing on the innovative use of seasonal ingredients. In 2019, she earned the restaurant two Michelin stars.
Chef Suzette Gresham – Acquerello, San Francisco
Decades ago, Chef Suzette Gresham‘s culinary journey took flight when she was appointed head chef at The Donatello. Though initially perceived as just the pastry chef, Suzette proved her mettle in no time. A year later, she played a key role in opening Acquerello, where her leadership led to the restaurant earning its first Michelin star in 2007, followed by another in 2014. Suzette is also one of our amazing Story Plate Culinary Contributors!
Three Michelin Star Restaurants
Chef Dominique Crenn – Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Dominique Crenn, a renowned French chef, has made a lasting impact on the US food scene for decades. While she’s worked internationally, including as Indonesia’s first female head chef, her main contributions are in the US. In 2011, she opened Atelier Crenn, earning two Michelin stars, a historic first for a female chef in the US. Dominique’s culinary prowess and trailblazing spirit have earned her well-deserved acclaim and recognition.
Michelin Stars: A Stellar Celebration of Women in the Culinary Cosmos
And there you have it, a tantalizing list of Michelin-starred restaurants led by incredible women in the culinary world! From the vibrant streets of New York City to the sunny shores of California, these talented chefs have crafted culinary masterpieces that have earned them well-deserved Michelin stars. As we bid farewell to this mouthwatering journey, let’s raise a toast to these inspiring women who have defied odds, shattered glass ceilings, and wowed our taste buds with their exceptional skills. So, the next time you’re planning a dining adventure, make sure to seek out these gems and support the talented women who are leaving their mark on the Michelin star galaxy. Cheers to a future of flavor, innovation, and a celebration of diversity in the world of fine dining! Bon appétit!