Austin Women Chefs Grow in Number

When the results of the Chronicle's 1997 Restaurant Poll were tabulated last fall, several women had received votes in the category of "Best Chef." Although women have been creating food businesses and working in Austin kitchens for more than 20 years, 1997 was the first year that Chronicle readers seemed to take notice. The percentage of women in corporate or executive chef positions around town is still comparatively small, but more and more talented Austin women are working "on the range." Not all the women in this list have formal culinary training, but then just as many of the male chefs in Austin don't. It's our contention that if they are performing the requisite tasks (menu planning, staff scheduling, purchasing, personnel management, recipe development, and cooking), they've earned the title. If we've overlooked any working female chefs in Austin, please let us know who they are. -- Virginia B. Wood

Janet Chaykin, corporate chef, Whole Foods Market
Rebecca Rather, executive pastry chef, Schlotzsky's Marketplace/Bread Alone
Sarah Bishop, chef, Texas Governor's Mansion
Kathryn Mathis, chef, the Bitter End
Michelle Haram, pastry chef, San Gabriel Restaurant Group
Jeanine Gwaltney, pastry chef, Texas French Bread
Arlene Harris, pastry chef, Sweetish Hill Bakery
Mary E. Perna, pastry chef; Zoot, Hyde Park Bar & Grill, Dolce Vita
Alma Alcocer-Thomas, chef de cuisine, Jeffrey's
Dr. Foo Swasdee, chef/owner; Satay Asian Cookery, Thai Noodles House
Barbara Nadalini, chef/owner, Madam Nadalini
Elaine Martin, chef/co-owner, East Side Cafe
Ruth Carter, chef, East Side Cafe
Kim Nguyen, chef/owner, Saigon Kitchen
Orasinee Ratana-Apron, chef/co-owner; Thai Spice Buffet, Thai Spice Cafe
Vicki Vicha, chef/co-owner; Thai Spice Buffet, Thai Spice Cafe
Carmen Suarez, chef; Manuel's, Changos
Dot Hewitt, chef/owner, Dot's Place
Flo Washington, chef/owner, Flo's
Abigail Scruggs, chef, Central Market
Jessica Furlong, chef, Central Market
Becky Barsch-Fischer, chef, Central Market
Ash Correia, chef/owner, Empanada Parlour
Johanna Sullivan, chef/wine representative, Glazier's
Lisa Fox, independent menu consultant
Pamela Nevarez, private chef
DeAndra Breeden, private chef
Vicki Dempsey, private chef/film food stylist
Tina Haverty, independent menu consultant
Sherry Smith, chef/co-owner, Assorted Affairs Catering
Julie Eskoff, chef/owner, From the Top Catering
Deborah DeWitt, chef/owner, Prairie Rock Catering
Cheryl Price, chef/owner, Carol's Catering by Cheryl
Susan Fein, chef/co-owner, Living Arts Kitchen
Diana Welsch, chef/owner, Green Gourmet Catering
Megan Bowman, chef/owner, Megan Bowman Catering
Frauke Baylor, chef/owner, Blue Trout Catering

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, July 18, at midnight. Vote now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle