Top female chefs in the restaurant industry

To mark International Women’s Day, we’re showcasing chefs who are paving the way for equality, in what has traditionally been a far-from-equal industry. Covering all manner of cuisines, they’re amongst the biggest names on the UK restaurant scene, with countless awards, Michelin stars and restaurant openings to their names.

Chantelle Nicholson

Chantelle Nicholson

Chantelle Nicholson

Now chef patron at Tredwells, Chantelle Nicholson started her career cooking at The Savoy before helping to build Marcus Wareing’s restaurant empire, both in and out of the kitchen. After joining Pétrus as a junior sous chef, Chantelle went onto take an operational role at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley and then helped open The Gilbert Scott. Following the opening of Tredwells in 2014, Chantelle returned to the kitchen, showcasing her unfussy approach to contemporary British cooking.

Elena Arzak – Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

Elena Arzak chef

Elena Arzak

Named best female chef in the world 2012, Elena Arzak has cooking in her blood. The fourth generation of her family to work at 3-Michelin-starred Arzak, she started working there age 11 and is now joint head chef alongside her father. Having trained under the likes of Michel Roux Jr and Alain Ducasse, she also oversees Ametsa with Arzak Instruction in London, serving the signature Arzak style of inventive Basque cuisine.

Angela Hartnett

Angela Hartnett

Angela Hartnett
Image source: Murano

Chef patron of Michelin-starred Murano and its little sister Café Murano, co-owner of Merchant’s Tavern, and a regular face on TV cookery shows, Angela Hartnett is a major player on the UK food scene. Awarded an MBE for her services to the hospitality industry, Angela’s sophisticated yet simple approach to good, honest food is inspired by her Italian grandmother and mother.

Hélène Darroze

Hélène Darroze

Hélène Darroze

Holder of 2 Michelin stars at her eponymous restaurant Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Hélène Darroze began her career in the family restaurant and then under the guidance of Alain Ducasse at the Le Louis XV restaurant in Monaco, before going onto gain her first Michelin star at Restaurant Hélène Darroze in Paris in 2001. Hélène now splits her time between her restaurants in London and Paris.

Clare Smyth

Clare Smyth

Clare Smyth
Image source: Core

The first female chef in the UK to run a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars, Clare Smyth was chef patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay from 2012 to 2016. Awarded an MBE for services to the hospitality industry, Clare has since gone onto open Core, a modern British restaurant in Notting Hill.

Monica Galetti

Monica Galetti

Monica Galetti
Image source: The Independent

Now a household name thanks to TV appearances on the likes of MasterChef and Saturday Kitchen, Monica Galetti began her cooking career in New Zealand before moving to London to work under Michel Roux Jr at his 2-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. She soon rose through the ranks, and as well as her TV appearances, has gone onto open her own restaurant – Mere, which blends classical French cooking with South Pacific influences.

Selin Kiazim


A 2017 winner of Great British Menu, Selin Kiazim owns and runs Oklava, a Turkish-Cypriot restaurant in Shoreditch. Influential in changing perceptions of Turkish cuisine, Selin’s menu at Oklava includes the likes of traditional pide flatbread with marinated octopus and ricotta, and date-glazed lamb chops with sour onions and Urfa chilli mayo.

Elizabeth Haigh

Elizabeth Haigh

Elizabeth Haigh
Image source: Evening Standard

Founding head chef at Hackney’s Pidgin, Elizabeth Haigh helped it achieve a Michelin star just a year after opening. Not one to rest on laurels however, she is set to open her own restaurant, Shibui, which will promote wood-fired cooking, and fuse European and Asian flavours.

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