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Mindy Segal is one of many great female chefs in Chicago.
Mindy Segal is one of many great female chefs in Chicago.
Mindy's Hot Chocolate

20 Women Chefs Who Reign Over Chicago Restaurants

And they're creating opportunities for more

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Mindy Segal is one of many great female chefs in Chicago.
| Mindy's Hot Chocolate

America failed to elect the country's first female president in November. And while the country readies for a new leader and sorts through the areas where the nation needs improvement, it's important to reflect on small signs of progress. Don't just focus on government, as even Chicago's culinary scene provides hope as more and more women are grabbing opportunities to lead kitchen staff.

These women come from a variety of backgrounds and wield a variety of skills. Some are chef/partners who don't just run the kitchen—they run all aspects of the restaurant. Some are immigrants and have enriched the country by sharing a spark of the culture through cuisine. Others are native Chicagoans, living the dream of opening a restaurant in their hometown.

Check out this list of women chefs that are crushing it in Chicago. These chefs not only are currently cooking up a storm, but they're also creating opportunities for other women to follow. Listed in alphabetical order.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Stephanie Izard (Duck Duck Goat)

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857 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 902-3825
Visit Website
Stephanie Izard, one of the most famous chefs in America, gained acclaim by winning Top Chef and has partnered with Boka Restaurant Group to open Girl and the Goat, The Little Goat and Duck Duck Goat.
Boka

2. Iliana Regan (Elizabeth Restaurant)

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4835 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 681-0651
Visit Website
Her underground dinners were creative and inventive, and Regan has taken the same spirit with her by opening Michelin-starred Elizabeth, a crown jewel of fine dining in the North Side. Her themed dinners, inspired by fantasy novels like "Lord of The Rings" are also popular. She'll soon try her hand at Japanese food when Kitsune opens in Lincoln Square.
Timothy Hiatt

3. Sandra Holl (Floriole Cafe & Bakery)

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1220 W Webster Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 883-1313
Visit Website
Sandra Holl's baked good first were notice while at the Green City Market. The acclaim continued over at Floriole, a charming full-service cafe in Lincoln Park.

4. Christine Cikowski (Honey Butter Fried Chicken)

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3361 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 478-4000
Visit Website
After the success of Sunday Dinner Club, Christine Cikowski and her business partner, Josh Kulp, opened the sinfully-good Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Avondale. The suburban native shares executive chef duties with Kulp.

5. Laura Martinez (La Diosa)

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2308 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
Laura Martinez's story is an inspiring one. Martinez, who worked at Charlie Trotter's, has been blind since an infant. That hasn't stopped her from creating delicious Mexican comfort food — the chef opened La Diosa in Lincoln Park in 2015.

6. Mariela Bolaños (MAD Social)

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1140 W Madison St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 243-2097
Visit Website
Executive chef Mariela Bolaños doesn't mess around inside Mad Social, the West Loop restaurant from Gina Stefani. A former executive sous chef at Bar Siena, she has traveled throughout Mexico and also learned to cook Italian and French food.

7. Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde)

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1020 West Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 888-3041
Visit Website
Sarah Grueneberg learned much while cooking at Spiaggia and she's let loose at Monteverde, the West Loop pasta haven where diners can see Grueneberg in the center of the restaurant, rolling out and shaping those taste noodles. She also appeared on Top Chef.

8. Carrie Nahabedian (Naha)

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500 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 321-6242
Visit Website
Carrie Nahabedian is Beard Award winner, taking home the honor for Best Chef: Great Lakes back in 2008. She and her cousin, Michael Nahabedian, also have a French restaurant, Brindille. She's one of Chicago's most heavily-decorated chefs.

9. Bo Fowler (Owen & Engine)

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2700 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 235-2930
Visit Website
Bo Fowler was raised in Minnesota after being brought over from Korea. She has opened two restaurants in Logan Square, Fat Wily's Barbecue Shack and the English gastropub Owen & Engine. A third restaurant, Bixi, will allow her to showcase her Southeast Asian culinary skills.

10. Beverly Kim (Parachute)

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3500 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 654-1460
Visit Website
Beverly Kim also made a splash by appearing on Top Chef, but her Avondale restaurant continues to pack guests in, as she works with her husband, John Clark. Parachute earned a Beard nomination after it first opened and holds a Michelin star.
Marc Much

11. Rebecca LaMalfa (Virgin Hotels Chicago)

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203 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 940-4400
Visit Website
A California native, this Top Chef contestant came to revamp Virgin Hotels Chicago's menus in 2016. She's worked with esteemed chefs including Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Marc St. Jacques and Gregory Pugin. Chicagoans know her for her work at The Trencherman in Wicker Park.
Virgin Hotels Chicago

12. Marissa Janz (Willow Rm.)

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The chef post at Willow Rm., a new Lincoln Park bar/restaurant, is Marissa Janz's first chef job. She came over from Nico Osteria.
Courtesy of Willow Rm.

13. Tigist Reda (Demera Ethiopian Restaurant)

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4801 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 334-8787
Visit Website
Tigist Reda grew up in northern Ethiopia and arrived in America in 2007. Over at Demera in Uptown, Reda has not only given many Chicagoans their first taste of her native cuisine, but also one of the best restaurants in the city.

14. Noy Sengsourichanh (Ryuu Asian BBQ)

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2766 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
For decades, Noy Sengsourichanh has been working in the kitchens of some of Chicago's best Thai spots. Her daughter Anna Makmok, was the namesake behind Anna's Asian Bistro in the West Loop. Sengsourichanh has followed her family to Logan Square where they're trying a new concept. Her fried, stuffed avocado rolls are still just as good as you remember.
Ryuu Asian BBQ

15. Yolanda Castillo (Garifuna Flava - A Taste of Belize)

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2516 W 63rd St
Chicago, IL 60629
(773) 776-7440
Visit Website
Over in Chicago Lawn, on Chicago's Southwest side, Yolanda Castillo and her family are cooking up traditional food from Belize. Chicago doesn't have an abundance of Belizean food, but back in 2014, Garifuna drew the attention of the Food Network's Guy Fieri who made a visit.

16. Hema Potla (Hema's Kitchen)

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2439 W Devon Ave
Chicago, IL 60659
(773) 338-1627
Visit Website
Hema Potla, who runs two restaurants—one on Devon and another in Lincoln Park—grew up in Hyderabad, India. She opened the first Hema's Kitchen in 1992, bringing a mix of South and North Indian flavors to Rogers Park.
Groupon

17. Anna Abbey (Mad Love)

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1810 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 687-9763
Her storefront opened in spring 2016, but Anna Abbey's Rock 'n Roll noodles has served Thai food at various farmer's markets around Chicago for years. Abbey's parents The Thai Room, one of Chicago's first Thai restaurants, and she's continued the family tradition.
Marc Much

18. Abra Berens (Stock)

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1427 W. Willow
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 432-6575
Stock, the cafe inside Local Foods—the grocery store tucked away near the city of Chicago truck parking lot near Lincoln Park—focuses on comfort foods and light bites. Chef Abra Berens adds to the menu seemingly every day. Berens, a Michigander, has worked at Floriole and Vie.

19. Mindy Segal (Mindy's Hot Chocolate)

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1747 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 489-1747
Visit Website
Mindy Segal has seized the reins once more over her Bucktown restaurant, famous for their decadent hot chocolates with house-made marshmallow and her eclectic assortment of cookies. She won the Beard Award for "outstanding pastry chef" in 2015. She's expanded operations to Revival Food Hall, using the experiences accrued at restaurants including mk, Spago and Charlie Trotter's.
Mindy's Hot Chocolate

20. Jill Barron (Mana Food Bar)

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1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 342-1742
Visit Website
Mana Food Bar shocked Wicker Park when it opened in 2008, shattering expectations to what a vegetarian restaurant could accomplish. Executive chef/partner Jill Barron crafted a menu the fused flavors from all across the world, with a focus on Korea.
Facebook

1. Stephanie Izard (Duck Duck Goat)

857 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
Boka
Stephanie Izard, one of the most famous chefs in America, gained acclaim by winning Top Chef and has partnered with Boka Restaurant Group to open Girl and the Goat, The Little Goat and Duck Duck Goat.
857 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

2. Iliana Regan (Elizabeth Restaurant)

4835 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
Timothy Hiatt
Her underground dinners were creative and inventive, and Regan has taken the same spirit with her by opening Michelin-starred Elizabeth, a crown jewel of fine dining in the North Side. Her themed dinners, inspired by fantasy novels like "Lord of The Rings" are also popular. She'll soon try her hand at Japanese food when Kitsune opens in Lincoln Square.
4835 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

3. Sandra Holl (Floriole Cafe & Bakery)

1220 W Webster Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Sandra Holl's baked good first were notice while at the Green City Market. The acclaim continued over at Floriole, a charming full-service cafe in Lincoln Park.
1220 W Webster Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

4. Christine Cikowski (Honey Butter Fried Chicken)

3361 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
After the success of Sunday Dinner Club, Christine Cikowski and her business partner, Josh Kulp, opened the sinfully-good Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Avondale. The suburban native shares executive chef duties with Kulp.
3361 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

5. Laura Martinez (La Diosa)

2308 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
Laura Martinez's story is an inspiring one. Martinez, who worked at Charlie Trotter's, has been blind since an infant. That hasn't stopped her from creating delicious Mexican comfort food — the chef opened La Diosa in Lincoln Park in 2015.
2308 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

6. Mariela Bolaños (MAD Social)

1140 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60607
Executive chef Mariela Bolaños doesn't mess around inside Mad Social, the West Loop restaurant from Gina Stefani. A former executive sous chef at Bar Siena, she has traveled throughout Mexico and also learned to cook Italian and French food.
1140 W Madison St
Chicago, IL 60607

7. Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde)

1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607
Sarah Grueneberg learned much while cooking at Spiaggia and she's let loose at Monteverde, the West Loop pasta haven where diners can see Grueneberg in the center of the restaurant, rolling out and shaping those taste noodles. She also appeared on Top Chef.
1020 West Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60607

8. Carrie Nahabedian (Naha)

500 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654
Carrie Nahabedian is Beard Award winner, taking home the honor for Best Chef: Great Lakes back in 2008. She and her cousin, Michael Nahabedian, also have a French restaurant, Brindille. She's one of Chicago's most heavily-decorated chefs.
500 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

9. Bo Fowler (Owen & Engine)

2700 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Bo Fowler was raised in Minnesota after being brought over from Korea. She has opened two restaurants in Logan Square, Fat Wily's Barbecue Shack and the English gastropub Owen & Engine. A third restaurant, Bixi, will allow her to showcase her Southeast Asian culinary skills.
2700 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

10. Beverly Kim (Parachute)

3500 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
Marc Much
Beverly Kim also made a splash by appearing on Top Chef, but her Avondale restaurant continues to pack guests in, as she works with her husband, John Clark. Parachute earned a Beard nomination after it first opened and holds a Michelin star.
3500 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

11. Rebecca LaMalfa (Virgin Hotels Chicago)

203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601
Virgin Hotels Chicago
A California native, this Top Chef contestant came to revamp Virgin Hotels Chicago's menus in 2016. She's worked with esteemed chefs including Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Marc St. Jacques and Gregory Pugin. Chicagoans know her for her work at The Trencherman in Wicker Park.
203 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60601

12. Marissa Janz (Willow Rm.)

Chicago, IL
Courtesy of Willow Rm.
The chef post at Willow Rm., a new Lincoln Park bar/restaurant, is Marissa Janz's first chef job. She came over from Nico Osteria.

13. Tigist Reda (Demera Ethiopian Restaurant)

4801 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60640
Tigist Reda grew up in northern Ethiopia and arrived in America in 2007. Over at Demera in Uptown, Reda has not only given many Chicagoans their first taste of her native cuisine, but also one of the best restaurants in the city.
4801 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640

14. Noy Sengsourichanh (Ryuu Asian BBQ)

2766 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Ryuu Asian BBQ
For decades, Noy Sengsourichanh has been working in the kitchens of some of Chicago's best Thai spots. Her daughter Anna Makmok, was the namesake behind Anna's Asian Bistro in the West Loop. Sengsourichanh has followed her family to Logan Square where they're trying a new concept. Her fried, stuffed avocado rolls are still just as good as you remember.
2766 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

15. Yolanda Castillo (Garifuna Flava - A Taste of Belize)

2516 W 63rd St, Chicago, IL 60629
Over in Chicago Lawn, on Chicago's Southwest side, Yolanda Castillo and her family are cooking up traditional food from Belize. Chicago doesn't have an abundance of Belizean food, but back in 2014, Garifuna drew the attention of the Food Network's Guy Fieri who made a visit.
2516 W 63rd St
Chicago, IL 60629

Related Maps

16. Hema Potla (Hema's Kitchen)

2439 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659
Groupon
Hema Potla, who runs two restaurants—one on Devon and another in Lincoln Park—grew up in Hyderabad, India. She opened the first Hema's Kitchen in 1992, bringing a mix of South and North Indian flavors to Rogers Park.
2439 W Devon Ave
Chicago, IL 60659

17. Anna Abbey (Mad Love)

1810 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL 60613
Marc Much
Her storefront opened in spring 2016, but Anna Abbey's Rock 'n Roll noodles has served Thai food at various farmer's markets around Chicago for years. Abbey's parents The Thai Room, one of Chicago's first Thai restaurants, and she's continued the family tradition.
1810 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60613

18. Abra Berens (Stock)

1427 W. Willow, Chicago, IL 60642
Stock, the cafe inside Local Foods—the grocery store tucked away near the city of Chicago truck parking lot near Lincoln Park—focuses on comfort foods and light bites. Chef Abra Berens adds to the menu seemingly every day. Berens, a Michigander, has worked at Floriole and Vie.
1427 W. Willow
Chicago, IL 60642

19. Mindy Segal (Mindy's Hot Chocolate)

1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Mindy's Hot Chocolate
Mindy Segal has seized the reins once more over her Bucktown restaurant, famous for their decadent hot chocolates with house-made marshmallow and her eclectic assortment of cookies. She won the Beard Award for "outstanding pastry chef" in 2015. She's expanded operations to Revival Food Hall, using the experiences accrued at restaurants including mk, Spago and Charlie Trotter's.
1747 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

20. Jill Barron (Mana Food Bar)

1742 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Facebook
Mana Food Bar shocked Wicker Park when it opened in 2008, shattering expectations to what a vegetarian restaurant could accomplish. Executive chef/partner Jill Barron crafted a menu the fused flavors from all across the world, with a focus on Korea.
1742 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

Related Maps