March 1st marks the beginning of Women’s History Month. A month dedicated to the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society, which have shaped the world we live in today.
Food and cooking plays a huge part in our lives today, but also in the lives of those before us. All of this is thanks to some brilliant female chefs who have paved the way for up and coming chefs to keep the flame burning bright.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, below are some of our favourite famale chefs, their life stories, and how they influenced the British culinary scene.
Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey, better known as Fanny Cradock, was an English restaurant critic, TV chef and esteemed writer.
Fanny came to the attention of the public in the post ration years following the war, inspiring women to cook with an exotic approach. Despite this, Fanny made frequent concessions to the economic reality of the times, often suggesting cheaper alternatives which would be within reach of the average household income.
She was well known for cooking in various ball-gowns without the customary cook’s apron, making the statement that women should feel cooking was accessible and enjoyable, rather than messy and intimidating.
Even today, her legacy lives on with may a cookbook following her ground-breaking attitude to cooking. Mixing affordability with luxury in a time of hardship.
Although gender roles have now changed for the better, Fanny Cradock did all she could to make the cooking experience for women as enjoyable and glamorous as possible, installing confidence in kitchens across the UK.
Monica Galetti is a Samoan-born New Zealand chef, probably best known as a judge on ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’, and owner of London based restaurant Mere.
At the beginning of her career, the owner of one of the first restaurants she worked at would send her to cooking competitions in Australia, America and Europe. She hoped this exposure would eventually find her a position in London – a place where she now owns her own restaurant!
Her talents impressed world renowned chef, Michel Roux Jr, who gave her a junior role as first commis chef at his two-star Michelin restaurant, Le Gavroche. Here, she has worked her way up to senior sous chef – becoming the first woman to land a senior role in the kitchens of the restaurant.
Now the owner of her own restaurant, she relishes the opportunity to be making her own food. She describes the move as something she’s been “itching to do” and has found it very liberating.
Although her restaurant, Mere, does not yet hold a Michelin star, it is widely believed that one may not be too far off the horizon.
Rosemary Jacqueline Shrager is a British chef and TV presenter, best known for her expertise and teaching haute cuisine, the cuisine served in high-level establishments. She is extremely passionate about food and teaches with an infectious enthusiasm.
Rosemary found inspiration in her early life from her grandmother. A a very strong, determined woman who was a wonderful cook. Although she didn’t know her as well as she would’ve wanted to, she believes, without her realising it, her cooking was greatly influenced by her.
She has become a huge inspiration to many a chef today as she didn’t go to college or cookery school and learned, as she put it, “on the hoof”. It is believed that her lack of self-confidence was the hardest thing to overcome in her pursuit of cookery stardom, something I think we can all agree is hard to believe seeing how far she’s come in her very successful career on screen, in the kitchen and at her own cookery school!
Delia Smith CBE
Delia Ann Smith is an English cook and television presenter, known for teaching a more simplistic style of cookery, in a no-nonsense style. She is one of the best known celebrity chefs in British popular culture.
Her first television appearances came in the early 1970s. Following its success, she was offered her own cookery television show, which ran between 1973 and 1975.
It has been claimed that Delia’s television shows would cause sell-outs overnight in shops. She is believed to have caused a 10% rise in egg sales in Britain, and her use of ingredients such as frozen mash and tinned minced beef and onions had the same impact on consumer spending habits. This phenomenon was hence dubbed the “Delia effect”.
Not only did Delia make it to the top in her culinary ventures, she was also a great success in the world of business, working as a consultant for supermarket giant Sainsbury’s as well as publishing their magazine – as well as her own books.
Further to this, she is currently the majority shareholder of Norwich City Football Club. A side now in the Premier League.
All these women have inspired a generation of both female and male chefs. They are great role models in their own right, and have found great success through hard work, talent and determination. St. Dalfour salute you.