With the advent of YouTube and the Internet, the possibilities are endless for aspiring chefs in this day-and-age. Many people have managed to make lucrative careers by first starting as video bloggers, and then moving onto TV and cookbook writing. Even though women make up the majority of home cooks, they run a small percentage of the top kitchens in culinary hubs like New York and Paris.
Despite gastronomy being a male-dominated industry, many female chefs are making names for themselves by being creative and rising through unorthodox means. Whether that may be video cookbook demos, “Mommy Blogging” for busy parents, or whatever other means, many women are getting their foot in the door of the culinary world.
And although you can’t just be a pretty face in this industry - you still have to be able to create delicious dishes, fuse different cuisines, and think outside the box - it doesn’t hurt to be an attractive chef. Here are 10 female chefs who are world-famous for their recipes, while also looking good in front of a camera.
10 Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi is an Indian-born American cookbook author, model, TV host, and producer. The beautiful Tamil TV personality won the “Best First Book” award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, with her debut cookbook Easy Exotic. She has hosted the reality program Top Chef since season two (2006), for which she’s received a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host of a Reality/Reality-Competition Program. In 2010, Top Chef won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program.
Before Top Chef, Lakshmi was the host of Food Network’s 2001 series, Padma’s Passport, which was part of the Melting Pot series. The show featured Padma cooking recipes from around the world. She also was the host of several specials on South India and Spain for the British culinary tourism show, Planet Food.
9 Rachael Ray
New York-native Rachael Ray is easily the most recognizable female chef in the world today, thanks to her syndicated series’, her personality on camera, and her business savvy. It doesn’t hurt that she’s very attractive as well, but she has done anything but skate along on her looks alone.
Her daily talk show, Rachael Ray has won two Daytime Emmy’s, and her Food Network series, 30 Minute Meals, has garnered her another. Ray has written several cookbooks, launched a magazine, and hosted numerous programs, such as Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels, and $40 a Day, both featured on the Food Network.
8 Nadia Giosia
Nadia Giosia, also known as Nadia G., is a Canadian chef, comedian, and TV personality, as well as a successful web-series creator. Her show, Nadia G’s B****in’ Kitchen, started as a YouTube series - combining comedy and cooking - before running for three series on television, on the Cooking Channel, Food Network Canada, and Food Network UK.
In 2014, she hosted a new show on the Cooking Channel, called Bite This with Nadia G. She has appeared on numerous Travel Channel shows, and is one of the most-watched talents on the Food Network.
7 Ani Phyo
Ani Phyo is an organic chef and wellness expert who has been in the industry for years as an advocate of sustainable agriculture, a raw foodism lifestyle, and green living. The Canadian-born, Korean-descended chef and author was raised on vegan and raw foods, and her family had an organic farm when growing up. She co-founded SmarkMonkey Foods in 1999, which started as a catering and hosting company in LA, before launching lines of packed foods, sauces, and desserts.
The company was sold 10 years later, in 2009, and Phyo became an early pioneer of the Internet in San Francisco, producing numerous websites, as well as writing educational books. One of her projects sent video jockeys across the Mediterranean to chronicle their experiences on Ani’s websites - all of this 10 years prior to YouTube and Facebook. Ani has been a consultant for Disney, ABC Family, Electronic Arts, Apple Inc., and more.
6 Catherine McCord
Catherine McCord is one of the few personalities who has given up a career in supermodeling to take up cooking. At the age of 14 she began modeling for Elite Model Management, appearing on covers of Glamour and Elle. She was voted one of the sexiest women in the world in a 2001 poll by FHM magazine.
McCord owns Weelicious.com, a website geared towards busy parents, and showing them how to cook quick, kid-friendly meals. The website is updated daily with new recipes, and includes a weekly how-to cooking video. In 2010, People voted her one of the 50 most influential “Mommy Bloggers.”
5 Giada de Laurentiis
The Italian-born American chef Giada de Laurentiis is another one of the most recognizable chefs, authors, and TV personalities in the culinary world. She is the current host of Food Network’s Giada at Home, is the founder of the catering business GDL Foods, the winner of a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lifestyle Host, and became part of the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012.
De Laurentiis studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, aspiring to become a pastry chef. After returning to the US, she worked at numerous LA restaurants, most notably the Wolfgang Puck-owned restaurant, Spago. When she became the host of Everyday Italian, Food Network’s daytime cooking show, in 2003, the network was accused of hiring a professional model or actress instead of a real chef.
4 Lanshu Chen
Taiwanese chef Lanshu Chen began her career in literature, at National Taiwan University, before escaping to Paris to pursue her passion of cooking. She spent four years in Paris exploring gastronomy, and received a pastry diploma at Le Cordon Bleu, as well as culinary training in Ferrandi.
She worked in several highly acclaimed restaurants as Les Ambassadeurs, with numerous French culinary legends, including the pastry atelier Pierre Hermé. She is the chef of Taiwan’s Le Moût Restaurant, and in 2014 was named Asia’s Best Female Chef by Veuve Clicquot.
3 Rochelle Bilow
Rochelle Bilow is a French Culinary Institute graduate who began her career at the Mediterranean restaurant, Aldea, in New York. She is a regular freelance writing contributor for multiple magazines, including USA Today, New York Cork Report, and Edible Finger Lakes.
Her career has taken off since Aldea, and she is now the Wine and Food Ambassador for Finger Lakes Wine Region. She has since released a book, The Call of the Farm, which accounts her year-long excursion of living on a CSA organic farm, cooking with fresh-from-the-earth ingredients, and living a life simpler than that of city chefs.
2 Devin Alexander
Devin Alexander got her start as the Owner and Executive of Cafe Renee Catering out of Westlake Culinary Institute, before becoming part of The Biggest Loser in 2006. She compiled The Biggest Loser Cookbook for the show, and demonstrated recipes on the show, and has written the other four books of The Biggest Loser Cookbook. The New York Times Bestselling author has also written three other books not associated with the show.
In 2007, she became the host of her own program on Discovery Health and Fit TV, titled Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander. Though the show ended in 2011, she kept sharing her secrets via appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew, The View, and more.
1 Dylan Lauren
Dylan Lauren, daughter of clothing designer Ralph Lauren, is the owner of New York City’s Dylan’s Candy Bar, which is claimed to be the “largest candy store in the world,” with over 7,000 candies from around the world.
She was inspired to open the store after watching Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory when she was five. Her goal for Dylan’s Candy Bar was to “merge fashion, art, and pop candy culture.” The beautiful celebrity of Austrian and Jewish descent was named one of the "Top 25 Most Stylish New Yorkers" by US Weekly, in 2007.