7 Badass Female Restaurant Owners and Foodies That Inspire Us

Beata Grace Beatty

Beata is a Florida-based freelance writer. When she’s not researching and pitching story ideas, she’s reading, walking on the beach, fiddling with home projects, and keeping up with her two daughters.

For years, the food industry has been a predominantly male realm. However, in the last couple of decades, women are making a significant and much-needed impact in the industry, and countless badass female restaurant owners and foodies are inspiring the next generation of chefs and restaurateurs. From chefs and owners to influencers and CEOs, below is just a taste of the amazing women that grace the restaurant and food industry.

Female restaurant owner making tagliatelle pasta

The Originals

Alice Waters

Founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California, Alice Waters is a chef, author, and the original food activist. Students have been studying her ideas about local, sustainable agriculture for more than 40 years. She has been Vice President of Slow Food International since 2002. Waters founded the Yale Sustainable Food Project in 2003 and the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome in 2007.

Awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2015, she has been on the global front line using food for positive social and political change. Alice is the author of 16 books including, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook, The Art of Simple Food I & II, and The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea.

Julia Child

Julia Child inspired countless cooks with her joy in the kitchen, passion for learning and self-deprecation, and eagerness to present French Cooking to the masses. Her groundbreaking book Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a national treasure. Her PBS biography touts her encouragement of generations of home cooks. She wanted them to “practice cooking as art, not to dread it as a chore,” seemingly sound advice when setting out in starting your culinary adventure.

The Moguls

Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines is the original and ultimate “Fixer Upper,” and her forway into the restaurant business and cooking led her to write Magnolia Table, the bestselling cookbook of 2018. The charm of Gaines is her relatability, hard-work ethic, and willingness to share her journey in a time when social media inspires us all. Her journey of that seemingly frivolous “business plans scribbled on scratch paper” along with continued dreams and hard work is inspirational.

Ree Drummond

The namesake of the multimillion Pioneer Woman empire, Drummond started her career as a food blogger and photographer sharing her family life and cooking on her Oklahoma ranch. Her fanbase and love of food led her to write several books, and then she landed the Pioneer Woman series on the Food Network. Today she’s the head of a large restaurant, retail store, and bakery in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Thoroughly Modern Mavens

Vani Hari, “Food Babe”

Hari is an Indian-American author, blogger, and food activist. She fights corporations to eliminate harmful substances in food production, and she is a staunch advocate for GMO labeling. Her internet petitions draw hundreds of thousands of signatures, and in 2015 she was named one of “The 30 Most Influential People on the Internet.”

Lauren Bush

Many of the industry rockstars are doing the work solely to benefit the hungry, and Bush is no exception. As the founder of FEED, Bush sells simple bags, T-shirts, and accessories to raise money for the global hunger fight. With the expanded FEED Supper, she’s encouraging her supporters to join the cause personally. Due to grassroots support and the power of social media, the initiative is thriving.

Julie Smolyansky

You are never too young or old to make an impact. In 2002, Smolyansky became the youngest female CEO of Lifeway Foods. She has transformed the company into the largest kefir supplier in America while introducing millions of people to the power of healthy bacteria. Named to Fortune Business “40 under 40,” Fortune’s 55 most influential women on Twitter, and Fast Company’s Most Creative People In Business 1000, Smolyansky is far from done impacting the industry. 


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