image 1 of 1
Find your culinary stay. View hotels.

Commanding the kitchen: These female chefs are leading the culinary charge

Top-flight gastronomy has historically been a male-dominated world, but women are quickly rising to the top with skill and flair. Meet three notable chefs paving the way for future generations. | By Paul Oswell | March 1, 2023

When highlighting some of the brightest stars of the gastronomic universe, these three female chefs truly shine. They are running some of the most innovative kitchens in their respective cities, with menus featuring standout dishes comprised of high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. Bask in the culinary expertise of these talented women on your next vacation:

  • Wowing Washington: Chef Ria Montes mixes it up for world leaders and a city with high standards

  • Loving London: Chef Sally Abé channels her childhood to stir up a sensation with homegrown ingredients

  • Compliments to Los Cabos: Chef de cuisine Miriam Jimenez is a culinary star in ascendance

Chef Ria Montes - WashingtonChef Ria Montes - Washington

The high-flying movers and shakers of Washington, D.C. have exacting standards when it comes to dining out. Visitors to the nation’s capital include high-ranking international politicians, leading innovators and global tastemakers, so it’s a high bar for restaurants (and their respective chefs) looking to gain recognition. Chef Ria Montes is up to the challenge.

The generation-spanning recipes of her large Filipino family are as much an inspiration for her as her formal training. “When you’re an immigrant family, you tend to hold onto the traditions that you know,” she says. “Filipino culture is very food-centric.”

Chef Montes channels these familial traditions to light up the menus at Estuary, the signature restaurant at Conrad Washington, DC. As chef de cuisine, she works closely with senior sous chef Sean Tew, and in partnership with local farmers, fishers and ranchers to bring renowned eclectic American cuisine to guests.

Chef Montes has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best in the business. Honing her skills gave her creative muscles a chance to shine, and she cooks with an instinctual flair at Estuary, resulting in a delightfully innovative take on the seasonal flavors of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The bounty of the local produce she sources serves as building blocks, and then chef Montes and her team work their magic to create a memorable fine dining experience. “A dish may look really simplistic. At the end of the day, it may be just squash and grains, but you can elevate it to a new level and that’s what I strive to do.”

Chef Sally Abé - LondonChef Sally Abé - London

The upswing of high-quality, traditional British food has been something to behold over the last couple of decades. British chefs have become globally recognized and have launched incredibly successful restaurants and brands. Both produce and products from the British Isles are now competing confidently on the world stage, from cheeses to wines. Chef Sally Abé has been part of this British culinary renaissance, learning firsthand from some of the best chefs and at top restaurants, including her time as head chef at the Harwood Arms, London’s only Michelin-starred pub.

As with the other leading female chefs mentioned, chef Jimenez’s fascination with food began at a very young age, learning the basics from her family while growing up in Mexico City. She subsequently found her home overseeing multiple dining facilities at Conrad London St. James, including the property’s signature restaurant, The Pem, where she brings her inimitable taste and expertise to all of the food and beverage offerings.

Chef Abé's philosophy is straightforward, and one that foregrounds hearty, tasty food, intensely focused on flavor. You can enjoy the fruits of this approach in the poached Scottish langoustine at The Pem, as well as in a more casual Sunday roast at the hotel’s Blue Boar Pub. Her dishes are inspired by the classic, home-cooked comfort food of chef Abé’s own childhood in Nottingham. As she subtly modernizes and elevates these nostalgic dishes with the utmost care and talent, you too will find them utterly memorable.

Chef Miriam Jimenez - Los Cabos, MexicoChef Miriam Jimenez - Los Cabos, Mexico

Authentic iterations of all your favorite Mexican dishes abound in Los Cabos and the Baja California peninsula. The region enjoys a bountiful supply of incredibly fresh seafood, and the succulent local lobster is an especially popular mainstay on restaurant menus. This ocean-to-table philosophy is one that chef de cuisine Miriam Jimenez has passionately embraced.

Her star is rising, having been a dynamic presence in the kitchens of Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal for some five years.

Chef Jimenez pulls from these formative years, combining them with influences from global travels and culminating it into a unique culinary experience at signature restaurant, El Farallon, under executive chef Gustavo Pinet. The restaurant is a destination in itself, boasting a dramatic, cliffside location on the very southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula.

Maintaining a close relationship with local fishing companies helps make sure that chef Jimenez turns out the freshest ceviche, sea bass and, of course, that famous lobster. Chef Jimenez also plays an important role in curating the hotel’s series, Culinary Weekends, where guests can take a deeper dive into the region’s traditions and flavors.

With sensational menus, proven leadership, talent and motivation to inspire others, these three influential female chefs — and others like them — are part of an encouraging transition in kitchens around the globe.

(Chef Sally Abé Image Copyright: Foodstorymedia)

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”

Find your stay