Food & Drink

Meet the Most Badass Female Chefs in New York

Published On 05/27/2016 Published On 05/27/2016
Cosme chef de cuisine Daniela Soto-Innes
Teddy Wolff

Daniela Soto-Innes

Cosme

Address and Info

Flatiron

What were you doing when you were 25? (If our own experience is any clue, it likely had something to do with $1 drafts and a lot of making out.) At that age, very few of us can say that we were featured in a documentary series about powerhouse young women, or had won a James Beard Award. Chef Daniela Soto-Innes can claim both -- she was the subject of the short film La Cocinera, which was screened at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, and she took home the award for Rising Star Chef at the 2016 James Beard Awards. 

Age has rarely been an issue for Soto-Innes, though it did earn a chuckle from those who inspired her, like a past chef at a Marriott hotel kitchen who spoke at her high school and later (after getting past her youth) took her on as an intern. Since then, she’s given a metaphorical middle finger to sexism in the kitchen by turning down work with a male chef who once told her, “We don’t hire women.” Now, she’s chef de cuisine at Enrique Olvera‘s much-lauded Cosme, where she’s cooking upscale, modern Mexican dishes like cobia al pastor, duck carnitas, and spelt esquites.

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Amanda Cohen

Dirt Candy

Address and Info

Lower East Side

Visit the website for popular vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy, and above chef/owner Amanda Cohen’s bio, in lieu of a headshot, you’ll find a Lisa Frank-esque picture of a unicorn. It’s a fitting image for Cohen, who has seemingly achieved the impossible: managing a vegetarian restaurant -- one that’s been around since 2008 -- that’s also a five-time recipient of Michelin stars (one of two within that category in 17 years). 

Hailing from Canada, Cohen has perpetually seemed ahead of her time -- first, by showing that vegetarian food can be “cool,” and then by making Dirt Candy the very first New York City restaurant to do away with tipping. “I want to pay all my employees a better wage,” she’s said, and “raise the salaries of all my staff, from my dishwashers to my cooks to my servers.”

Oh, and Dirt Candy: A Cookbook is a graphic novel cookbook -- the first of its kind in North America. NBD.

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Suchanan Aksornnan (aka "Chef Bao Bao")

Baoburg

Address and Info

Greenpoint 

The fortitude to compete on a show called Knife Fight (on the Esquire Network) is evidence enough of a certain character toughness. But if that’s not enough, just check out the Instagram account of Suchanan Aksornnan (better known as Chef Bao Bao): you’ll find pictures of her creations at Baoburg, where she’s chef/owner, that’ll make you want to stuff your face, alongside bikini and workout photos that’ll make you want to do hours of Pilates.

Bao Bao was born and raised in Thailand, where she was privy to some of the world’s best organic, regional ingredients. Since then, she’s cooked for the likes of the Princess of Saudi Arabia and Cameron Diaz, and has worked alongside Jean Georges and Top Chef’s Tiffany Derry. Today, her dishes at Baoburg draw influence both from Spanish and Asian cuisines, like Spanish-style garlic shrimp, and four different bao varieties. To those who question the authenticity of such fusion, she says, “Come to Baoburg and I will prove it!”

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Angela Dimayuga

Mission Chinese

Address and Info

Lower East Side

Anyone who’s spent time in San Francisco knows that Mission Chinese is the stuff of legends. It started as Mission Street Food, with wife-and-husband duo Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint selling pork belly & jicama sandwiches from a sub-leased taco cart, and then sharing a kitchen with Lung Shan Restaurant two days a week. Now under the name Mission Chinese Food, and with the long-time partnership of chef/co-owner/mastermind Danny Bowien, the legend is complete thanks to an ever-popular New York location that boasts Angela Dimayuga as executive chef.

Dimayuga is fittingly a California native who’s called New York home for nearly a decade now, moving here after college and starting at the very bottom as a line cook at Vinegar Hill House. Today, she’s been interviewed by Into The Gloss about her beauty routine and Grub Street for a detailed look into a day in the life as a chef, the latter of which involves her cooking food for the cast of Hamilton with impressive frequency.

Colleen Etchemendy
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Lucero Martinez

Pampano

Address and Info

Midtown East 

Add chef Martinez to the list of those who tried following the traditional trajectory, only to reach a point of not being able to deny a love for food any longer. She boasts a degree in graphic design and administrative experience at the Mexican Embassy, but it was in Atlanta where she found her true calling as a prep cook at Bice restaurant. She came without formal training, though, which only aggravated the struggle of working in a male-dominated kitchen, fighting for every shift and ounce of respect she received, and supplementing the little pay with a landscaping job. 

Though she still carries an aversion to the scent of freshly cut grass today, Martinez has made impressive strides -- from working her way up to pastry chef at Bice, to opening Atlanta’s Zocalo (where she still carries the working titles of executive chef and partner), to most recently being recruited by chef Richard Sandoval to take on the role of executive chef at New York’s Pampano. In her latest positions, she’s putting her own delicious twist on dishes like risotto with a Mexican corn truffle and manchego, chipotle-miso black cod, and shrimp chicharrónes.

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Tiffany Minter

The Cecil

Address and Info

Harlem

Make no mistake: food can be really, really sexy. That’s the mission of chef Tiffany Minter, who, in her recent promotion to chef de cuisine at Afro-Asian-American restaurant The Cecil, is working to serve up a menu that’s soulful, sensual, and street-inspired -- from braised goat dumplings, to okra fries, to a pick-your-own-toppings-style wok bar.

With an equal appreciation for both street food and plant-based cuisine, chef Minter plays with a broad range of flavors in what she cooks. Her education spans from the Scandinavian technique she learned from Marcus Samuelsson at Aquavit, to the farm-to-table style with which she became enamored while working under April Bloomfield at The Spotted Pig. As a black female chef, she’s especially proud to be breaking boundaries in a leadership role inside one of the city’s most established kitchens. 

Jason Rothenberg
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