5 female chefs to follow

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A list of restaurants run by female chefs that I visited recently in London and Cambridge (and Spain)

They have different styles, different backgrounds and influences so they offer different gastronomic experiences

A couple of months ago I was planning a weekend in London to celebrate our anniversary when I thought it would be interesting to book in some restaurants which the head chef (owner too sometimes) is a woman chef. I didn’t want to compare with what male chefs do. I just realized that normally we go to restaurants run by male chefs because their names are better known. As a woman chef, I also felt a bit committed to knowing more about them, not only the names I already knew (mainly Spanish women chefs) but new ones too.

So, here it is, my list of women chefs (in alphabetic order as this list is not a scoring list).

  • Marianne Lumb. The smallest restaurant I have ever been, only 14 covers. Situated in Notting Hill, Marianne Restaurant makes you feel like in the first row of a theatre with the actors performing just for you. The menu changes to offer the fresh and season ingredients. My favourite one was a tomato, cucumber and basil salad but for my surprise, it was a light white foam where you could taste all the ingredients. Amazing!

  • Monica Galleti. Well known for being the judge of Masterchef, she and her husband run Mere, in Bloomsbury. It is a cosy and friendly restaurant, the cocktails are lovely and the menu shows the French influence. My favourite… difficult to choose but I would say the Cornish cod with black curry, pickled celery, hazelnut dukka and lovage sauce.

  • Nieves Barragan. She opened recently Sabor in Mayfair, London, after being the head chef of the Barrafina restaurants (tapas style restaurants, one of them with a Michellin Star). She cooks traditional dishes from Spain, based in fresh and high quality ingredients. Try the octopus and you will feel like in Galicia, or the chuleton (steak) like in her native Basque Country but don’t miss the artichokes, my favourite dish without a doubt. So good I forgot to take a picture before devouring it!

I love her cuisine as it´s honest without presumptuous. If you are looking for a Spanish cookbook, Sabor of Nieves Barragán is a “must have”. I love her recipes, simple and tasty. I come from a region close to hers to what I cook is very similar and use similar recipes too. But she always put her personal twist which makes the traditional dishes even better.

  • Samira Effa. Head chef at Alimentum, in Cambridge. She took over the position at Alimentum in January this year (2018). She is 27 years old with already a large experience as a chef in different pubs and restaurants along the country. My favourite dish, pollock with peas, taramasalata and sea vegetables. But the quail, with kohlrabi, onion and thai tea deserves a special mention too. The thai tea… god, such a delicate but intense flavour in that broth!

I want to mention María Marte as she is an incredible chef with an incredible story. She is not the head chef of the Club Allard any more but I think she deserves a mention. Also it was one of the best meals I ever had.

  • Maria Marte. She was the head chef at Club Allard in Madrid and the only woman chef with two Michellin stars in the capital of Spain. Her story is fascinating. With some experience as a cook at her father’s restaurant, she migrated to Spain and worked as a cleaner in a restaurant and, from there, she became one of the best chefs in the world. At the beginning of this year, she decided to go back to her country and start a new project: train the next generation of women chefs in her native Dominican Republic. My favourite dish, white asparagus and cucumber soup.

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