From trailblazing to creating safe and delicious spaces, these are just some of the noteworthy Black women in food who have made lasting impressions on culinary and American culture.
Checkout this list of inspiring chefs past and present who are helping shape the future of the industry.
What are some of your favorite women-led spots? Shoot us an email – we’d love to feature them.
Annie’s Soul Delicious – 31066 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles
After 20 years of catering as Annie’s Edibles, something clicked. A request for soul food sent Chef Annalisa and team down a path that would forever change her kitchen. Her menu—inspired by heart-warming memories—was so well-loved she decided to start a Sunday pop-up spot in L.A.’s Little Ethiopia to bring together “funk music, fried chicken and a hug.” Since then the restaurant’s permanent spot has become an unstoppable soul food experience meant to feel like it came straight from the ’70s.
Blew MaryWillow Kind
Franny Lou’s Porch – 2400 Coral St, Philadelphia, PA
Named after 19th century abolitionist and poet Frances E.W Harper and 20th century Civil Right activist Fannie Lou Hamer, Franny Lou’s Porch is not only a warm cafe, but a space and catalyst for the black community. Owner Blew MaryWillow Kind, provides a space that allows for community activism, cultural awareness, and education through human experience and scheduled events—all while enjoying your favorite cup of coffee. All of Franny Lou’s ingredients are sustainable and come from neighborhood farmers to support the local economy. This only further proves that her mission to ignite positive change is present in every facet of the business.
China Adderley & Samantha Lebbie-Adderley
The Kitchen Jerk – 703 Edgewood St. NE Washington, DC
Bringing “Caribbean vibes and a Southern taste” to DC, The Kitchen Jerk specializes in customized experiences for every client, taste or need. Co-owners China and Sam Adderley take pride in excellent customer service, expert coordination and amazing food. China, otherwise known as Chef Chi, is one of today’s leading voices in the contemporary cooking industry. There is something for everyone with unique menu staples ranging from fire pasta with shrimp to vegan jackfruit tacos. TKJ offers delivery, catering and takeout, creating lots of opportunities for you to try their gourmet soul food.
Delicious eats and good vibes: that’s what they’re bringing to the table at Flavaz Jamaican Grille After being unable to find authentic Jamaican food in the area, Delaney Hawkins-Shaw set out to share her culture and cuisine with the community and opened her restaurant in 2017. The warm hospitality, reggae-influenced dining experience, and savory jerk chicken are sure to bring you back over and over again.
Fifi Bell-Clanton & Gwen Woods
The Crabby Shack – 613 Franklin Ave Brooklyn, NY
Move over lobster, there’s a new roll in town thanks to Fifi Bell Clanton and Gwendolyn Niles—co-owners and founders of The Crabby Shack. The makers of beloved dishes like the Clobster Roll (among others) gave up big careers in the music industry (we’re talking Notorious B.I.G. big) to “help fellow Brooklynites share their passion for crustaceans.” And it’s paid off. @nymag named it one of NY’s best restaurants and @grubstreet put it on its list of best spots in Crown Heights.
Meals by Genet – 1053 S. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles CA
When you walk through the doors of Meals by Genet, you’ll notice it’s a small, but welcoming spot located in the heart of Los Angeles in a neighborhood called, “Little Ethiopia”. She opened her restaurant in 2000 and has since then managed to be the restaurant’s sole cook and operator all these years. Her food is vibrant and interesting, while giving you a taste of traditional Ethiopian cuisine. If you’re having trouble narrowing down what to eat, we’ve heard the Doro Wot is a popular dish on her menu. It’s marinated in a red pepper sauce for two days and that alone has us dreaming of her food.
Nana’s Chicken-n-Waffles – 1040 Flat Shoals Road SE, Conyers GA
Just outside of Atlanta lies a little diner that Kelli Ferrell had once only dreamed of. Pulling from family recipes that Kelli and her husband grew up with in both Louisiana and Maryland, Nana’s Chicken and Waffles provides customers with warm southern cuisine and fresh comfort food that makes you feel right at home.
Dooky Chase Restaurant — 2301 Orleans Ave, New Orleans, LA
Dubbed the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” Chef Leah Chase opened her iconic Dooky Chase restaurant in the 1960s. She loved the culture of fine dining; tablecloths, servers wearing gloves and food prepared and served in an elegant atmosphere. So she and her husband converted their po-boy and lottery stand into a full-service restaurant. Up until she left this world in 2019, at the age of 96, Chef Leah was in the kitchen daily, ensuring that her love of feeding the community was felt through her cooking. Her’s was one of the few integrated restaurants that served people regardless of color or background, while also serving as a safe meeting place during the Civil Rights Movement. Her presence can still be felt at Dooky Chase. Photo credit: Southern Foodways Alliance
Le Petit Marche – 1984 Hosea L. Williams Dr. Ste. A Atlanta, GA
In 2008, @lepetitmarch1 started as a small market, but quickly expanded into a neighborhood hangout destination. Owner Marchet Sparks describes it as a familiar place and somewhere you’ll instantly feel at home. You’ll find “Pop” at the front greeting customers and Marchet whipping up breakfast in the kitchen. They were voted the Best Brunch of 2019 and we can see why. If you’re ever in the Kirkland area, this is the spot for a classic french-toast sandwich.
Sister’s Caribbean Cuisine – 47 E. 124th Street, New York, NY
In the heart of East Harlem’s cradle of island-inspired restaurants, Sisters is a haven of Caribbean favorites, including Oxtail Stew, Goat Rotis, Southern-Style Candied Yams and all the delicious sorrel you can drink. Originally opened in 1995 by Marlyn Rogers, a Guyanese immigrant, she handed the kitchen over to her son RanDe and Chef Diewo Diop, who brings the diaspora back home from her native Senegal. Photo credit: New York Post
Compère Lapin– 535 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA
As the culinary ambassador for St. Lucia, @NinaCompton mixes her caribbean roots with the rich cuisine of New Orleans to create delicious flavor and unforgettable moments at Compère Lapin. Since its opening in 2015, Compère Lapin has received various accolades including a rave review in the New York Times and nods from New Orleans Magazine and Times-Picayune. Nina herself has been named Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs 2017”, was a finalist for James Beard Awards “Best Chef South” and you might also recognize her from BRAVO’s Top Chef. Nina believes in the complexity of simplicity and the power of pure flavor; her passion comes through in every dish. And if you’re in New Orleans, don’t forget to visit her second restaurant, Bywater American Bistro!
Sara Gerald Fludd
Pop Goes the Waffle – Tampa, FL
Sara Gerald Fludd has been utterly besotted with waffles since she took her first bite of an Eggo in kindergarten. Since then, she has been on a quest to waffle virtually everything. From liege waffles to waffle pops and doughnuts, @PopGoestheWaffle is pushing the boundaries of waffleology in the Tampa Bay area.
Sylvia’s Soul Food – 328 Malcolm X Blvd New York, NY
Serving authentic soul food for over 55 years in the heart of Harlem, “The Queen of Soul Food” is a community favorite and is a destination for food enthusiasts everywhere. Sylvia’s serves-up homestyle cooking and features experiences such as Sunday Gospel Brunch and Live Music. Since Sylvia Woods’ passing in 2012, he family has stepped up running the neighborhood icon in her honor. Each year they commemorates her legacy of unwavering grace, and passion to give through a scholarship awarded to students from Harlem and surrounding communities. Between the delicious food and the outpouring love and dedication to the community, there is just no place like Sylvia’s. Photo credit: Sylvia’s Soul Food
Ben’s Chili Bowl – Washing DC Metro Area
With only $5,000 in their pockets, Virginia Ali and her husband Ben opened up “Ben’s Chili Bowl” on U street (AKA “Black Broadway”). They created and brought their dreams to life during a time of segregation in America, but that didn’t stop them from inviting everyone into their restaurant with open arms. Since then, Virginia and Ben have gone on to open many locations, and have seen many important figures walk through the doors, including President Barack Obama. Even over six decades later, nothing has changed. Not the furniture, not the chili and certainly not their ideals and guiding principles.