Girls Just Wanna Have Fun: Ten Female Pioneers in the Culinary World

I walked to the backyard to be assaulted with the sound of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" blasting so loud that it rattled the neighbors windows. My wife Michelle and my daughter Hannah were lounging in a 20 dollar inflatable pool and singing at the top of their lungs. I climbed into the pool to escape the sweltering heat. Reclining in the soft, polyvinyl, dollar store oasis, I sipped a beer and I thought about all the important women in my life. My wife Michelle: nurse extraordinaire, optimistic, sassy and driven. I looked at my daughter Hannah: the aspiring photographer, saxophone player, a straight "A" student, and opinionated like her Dad. Between daydreaming about how my Mom's meatball recipe would make me famous and how excited I was to get my food truck on the road, my mind focused on women and how they influenced, pioneered and shaped the culinary world.

  1. Rachael Ray The three-time Emmy winner (two for The Rachael Ray Show and one for 30 Minute Meals) claims that she is not a chef. Her loose cooking style with less than accurate measuring (use a handful of this) spawns creativity in kitchens across America and throws it in the face of culinary convention. Merriam Webster credits her with the phrase EVOO, shorthand for Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I even hear this phrase used in professional kitchens). Rachael is the girl next door and we like her so much that she has built a media and endorsement empire.Her net worth is 60 million.
  2. Isabella Beeton In 1861, Isabella Beeton a well to do English housewife published The Book of Household Management. Her book was a Victorian guide to all things domestic and included writings about industrialism, animal husbandry, science and the management of servants. Isabella was talking about using fresh and local ingredients 110 years before Alice Waters. Her book included 900 pages of recipes with color illustrations and the format that she used to write her recipes is still used in cook books today.
  3. Josephine Garis Cochran was sick of her staff breaking her expensive china. In 1886 she was awarded the patent for the first fully functioning automatic dishwasher. She demonstrated her invention at the 1893 Chicago's World Fair to the joy of restaurateurs and homemakers the world over.
  4. Professor Ann Noble You've probably never heard of Professor Noble but if you enjoy California wines, you probably should. Her enology courses at The University Of California have influenced the vintners of the Napa Valley for over 30 years. The Corra Cabernet Sauvignon, Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot and Keplinger Lithic were all produced by her former female students. Professor Nobel invented the wine wheel. Her invention is a pretty cool tool that you can use to expand your appreciation of wine by honing your sense of smell.
  5. Eugenie Brazier was the first women to earn 3 Michelin stars (1936). She was also the first French chef of either sex to attain six Michelin stars. A rock-star by the standards of her day, her clients included Charles de Gaulle and Marlene Deitrich.
  6. Florence Parpart invented the first electric refrigerator in 1914. Before Florence's invention, food was kept in an ice box which was a large insulated cooler requiring blocks of ice to keep food cold. Imagine a world without reliable refrigeration and I'll show you a world of food borne illness, back-breaking work and seafood with a shelf life measured in hours, not days.
  7. Alice Waters invented California Cuisine. With the opening of Chez Panise in 1971, she brought the idea of fresh and local ingredients prepared with diverse cultural influences into the mainstream. She was the first female chef to win the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in 1992.
  8. Julia Child made cooking shows accessible to everyone. She wasn't the first person to have a cooking show, but her enthusiasm, wit and passion brought French cooking to the masses. Julia's spirit showed us that a cooking demonstration could be entertainment. The French Chef was the first television program captioned for the deaf. Julia Child broke barriers for women by studying at the male dominated Le Cordon Bleu, writing almost twenty books, receiving the first Emmy awarded to an educational show and founding The American Institute of Wine & Food to "advance the understanding, appreciation and quality of wine and food,"
  9. Lillian Moller Gilbreth Every pastry Chef loves their mixer and they can thank one of the first working female engineers with a PhD. Being a busy mother of twelve, Lillian developed the linear layout of the modern kitchen and was awarded a patent for an electric hand mixer. She pioneered studies in time motion and ergonomics. She was awarded 23 honorary degrees including one from Princeton University. Did I mention that in her free time she invented that hands free, foot pedal trashcan and the shelves that are on the doors of your refrigerator?
  10. Nancy Johnson In 1843 Nancy Johnson from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was awarded a patent for the world's first hand cranked ice cream churn. Her machine aerated the sugar and cream mixture and prevented the formation of ice crystals while chilling the dessert. Although the recipe for making ice cream was discovered by the Chinese in 3000 B.C. Nancy's machine made it possible for anyone to create the delicious frozen treat and the mechanics of her contraption were eventually applied to the industrial sized machines that are used to produce ice cream today. The next time you have some apple pie a la mode, A pint of Ben and Jerry's or Baked Alaska you can thank Nancy Johnson for her contribution to the dessert world.

There are many more women that I could mention on the pioneers of the culinary world list. Cat Cora, Paula Deen, and Martha Stewart immediately come to mind. There are undoubtedly hundreds more. Who would you put on this list?

Joseph J. Kramer Jr. is an entrepreneur from Hershey Pennsylvania. He is currently in the process of building a food truck he has named "Maybelline". His company and food truck are called Guerrilla Canteen. http://www.guerrillacanteen.com

%d bloggers like this: