Go into the kitchens of most gourmet restaurants in Charlotte and you’ll find them to be mostly dude-dominated -- but from up-and-coming restaurant owners to personal chefs, women are shifting the landscape. There’s nothing dainty about the flavors these 10 female chefs are cranking out of their respective kitchens.
Executive chef and owner, Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen Specialty: Healthy and seasonal, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors What she’s doing when she's not working: Exercising, yoga, hanging out on a great patio with live music Favorite thing about Charlotte: “I’ve grown up here and watched this city develop. There is a sense of community here with familiar faces and energetic people.”
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Executive chef and owner, Harvest Moon Grille and Grateful Growers Farm Specialty: European flair with clean and simple flavors, incorporating her Romanian background What she’s doing when she's not working: Enjoying the outdoors, hiking at South Mountains State Park Favorite thing about Charlotte: The diversity in the food scene and also in culture. “You have so many walks of life; it’s a hub and it’s very cool to meet people from all over the world.”
Pastry chef, 300 East and Heritage Food & Drink Specialty: Artistic desserts focused on seasonal and local ingredients What she’s doing when she's not working: Being a mom of two kids, ages 5 and 8, and battling a slight bit of Facebook/Instagram addiction Favorite thing about Charlotte: “We have an explosion of creative talent and activity in the city between musicians, artists, photographers, chefs, food artisans, craftspeople, writers, and visionaries… Every five minutes seems to bring an opportunity to collaborate on some amazing project. I'm excited to live here right now.”
Master chef and owner, Chef Tillie Events Specialty: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Ambassador, certified nutritionist, personal chef to the stars What she’s doing when she's not working: Middle school volleyball coach (and sand volleyball player), martial arts, PTO, and actively advocating for food education and clean eating Favorite thing about Charlotte: Local farms and farmers markets are the favorite pastime most Saturday mornings. “Charlotte is big enough to meet all your needs but still has that small town feel to it where everyone is somehow connected.”
Emma M. Cromedy
President and “Head Cake Enthusiast,” Southern Cake Queen Specialty: Southern desserts What she’s doing when she's not working: “Preparing for the arrival of our lil’ cupcake, Isabella Joi, and spending time with family and friends.” Favorite thing about Charlotte: “I love the endless opportunities for work, entrepreneurship, and culture.”
Chef and owner, Bleu Barn Bistro food truck Specialty: Farm-to-truck and new world American fusion What she’s doing when she's not working: Being outdoors -- kayaking, hiking with her dog, and gardening Favorite thing about Charlotte: The atmosphere. “The people, the food, the drinks, the activities, and that it is a city within and so close to nature.”
Executive chef, Harvest Moon Grille Specialty: Seasonality and menu creation based on fresh produce What she’s doing when she's not working: Checking out new restaurants and craft breweries, writing and blogging about food Favorite thing about Charlotte: “You don't find a lot of egos or competition amongst Charlotteans. Everyone is just trying to support each other and make Charlotte a great place to be. That makes me happy.”
R&D chef, modPALEO Specialty: Vegetarian cuisine, delivery-ready What she’s doing when she's not working: Still cooking! Favorite thing about Charlotte: The changing of the seasons, great farmers markets, and discovering the little eclectic corners of town.
Executive chef, 300 East Specialty: New American fare What she’s doing when she's not working: Relaxing with her dog Favorite thing about Charlotte: The local band scene. “Groups like Temperance League, Chalkies, Miami Dice, The Loudermilks, Benji Hughes.”
Chef and owner, The Flipside Cafe & The Flipside Restaurant Specialty: Upscale Southern comfort food What she’s doing when she's not working: Supporting other local restaurants, going to movies, and hanging out with her husband and “two awesome stepsons” Favorite thing about Charlotte: “The ever-growing food scene and all the camaraderie of all the chefs around here. It's a big crazy family!”
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Cristina Wilson is a Charlotte-based writer who likes dancing, eating, and road-tripping around the South -- usually at least two at a time. Follow her @cemwilson.