The culinary arts have long favoured male chefs, and in Asia, this has been no different. While women have spent thousands of years in the kitchen, developing and refining their regional cuisines, they are finally receiving some international recognition for their mastery at the helm of the continent’s top restaurants.
Joining the ranks of Asian celebrities like Jackie Chan, Fan Bin Bing, Jack Ma or Manny Pacquiao is a new cadre of world-class chefs. Read on to discover the Top Asian Female Chefs and the innovations and delights which have put them on the culinary world map.
May Chow in Hong Kong
Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017
Having won accolades from chefs and industry experts across Asia, May Chow regularly tops the list of Asian chefs, female or otherwise. She is known for her Hong Kong restaurant, Little Bao, which celebrates sharing food and cultures. A self-taught chef born to Hong Kongese parents in Canada, she has been lauded for giving a fresh perspective to traditional cuisine. Chow is also known for using her platform to bring awareness to LGBT issues and championing women in professional kitchens.
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Margarita Forés in the Philippines
Asia’s Best Female Chef 2016
Born and bred in the Philippines, this Filipino chef is a self-taught master of Italian cuisine. With no formal culinary background, Forés spent four months training under three different Italian masters: Masha Innoscenti in Florence, Jo Bettoja in Rome and Ada Parasiliti in Milan. Under their tutelage, she developed her passion for and skills in Italian cuisine. Upon her return to the Philippines, she began her chef career at her own restaurant, Lusso. With no website or care for reviews, the unassuming restaurant has nevertheless earned much praise from foodies and industry insiders alike. If you get the chance to visit Lusso, be sure to sample the Shepherd’s Pie Braised Lamb, Salade d’ Agneau, Sans Rival Au Chocolat, Item, or Gnocco Prosciutto San Daniele for which they’re known.
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Vicky Lau in Hong Kong
Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015, 1 Michelin Star Rating
Chef Lau tops the list for having earned a coveted Michelin star at her Hong Kong restaurant, the Tate Dining Room. A global citizen, Lau began her education in the United States but later in life returned to Hong Kong and then trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok, Thailand. After graduating, she trained under Chef Sebastien Lepinoy at Cépage in Hong Kong for nearly two years before launching her own restaurant. The Tate Dining Room opened in 2012 and earned its well-deserved Michelin star barely a year later.
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Lanshu Chen in Taiwan
Asia’s Best Female Chef 2014, Veuve Clicquot Best Female Chef, 2014
Awarded Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2014 and also celebrated by Veuve Clicquot in the same year, Chen began her career training at the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts in Paris, France. She has worked in the kitchens of many renowned French restaurants, and is known for pushing boundaries while masterfully demonstrating culinary expertise. Now at the helm of her Taiwan restaurant, Le Mout, she has won accolades for bringing elevated French cuisine to her hometown. Should the Michelin Guide finally arrive in Taiwan, she is considered by many to be an obvious shoo-in.
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Bo Songvisava in Thailand
Asia’s Best Female Chef 2013
Songvisava may be the chef that finally convinced the Michelin Guide to come to Thailand. The first woman to receive the prestigious Asia’s Best Female Chef award in 2013, Songvisava has gained even more fame in recent years and has a profile in Netflix’s vaunted Chef’s Table series. With no formal training in the culinary arts, Songvisava got her first kitchen job at the Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok and went on to master Thai cooking under chef David Thompson at his London-based Nahm restaurant. Now a culinary master in her own right, Songvisava has won acclaim for bringing about a renaissance in authentic Thai cuisine at her Bangkok restaurant, Bo.lan.
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