This Is Not A List: notable female chefs in Argentina

Tired of seeing women objectified in Argentine media, in 2018 I created a calendar featuring 12 semi-nude male chefs. And, tired of certain media and lists frequently putting male chefs on a pedestal, I’ve compiled a non-ranking database, mapping notable women currently working in Argentine gastronomy or Argentine women working abroad. From their 20s to their 80s, low profile and TV darlings, This Is Not A List (numerically and rank free, which in my mind doesn’t make it a list) is neither exclusive nor the final word. It’s for sharing. Let’s map Argentina’s women in gastronomy (and stop calling them – and ourselves – chicas at the same time).  

Alina Ruíz is from the province of Chaco and runs Anna restaurant out of her family’s farm Finca Don Miguel. While Chaco is known as El Impenetrable, Alina works hard growing and sourcing local ingredients and plate them, putting this oft-ignored province on the map.

Ana Irie has been pastry chef at Chila, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, since it opened 12 years ago and uses her Japanese heritage to create carefully constructed desserts such as an aesthetically pleasing dulce de leche and banana box. 

Anna Ra Chung is the chef behind Una canción coreana in Bajo Flores, Buenos Aires, a restaurant that opened up ‘Koreatown’ to make Korean food accessible to Argentine diners.

Antonella Ferreri studied at IAG then trained in Mexico and Uruguay before returning to Buenos Aires. Aged just 23, she is currently head chef and left-and-right-hand woman to the chef-owner at Aramburu in Constitución, Buenos Aires.  

Astrid Acuña recently left La Mar Cebichería in Palermo, Buenos Aires, to return to her native Peru; she was, however, the executive chef’s right-hand woman since the highly successful restaurant opened four years ago. Let’s see what she does next.

Beatriz Chomnalez might have clocked up 88 birthdays but she’s still a pastry chef force to be reckoned with. Her high tea at Caesar Park Hotel was legendary; she has mentored top Argentine chefs.

Camila Pérez worked at an array of top Buenos Aires establishments before winning Dueños de la cocina, Argentina’s answer to Masterchef. She runs La tornería de Camila in Colegiales, Buenos Aires, serving up fresh ideas of Argentine classics.

Christina Sunae was born in the US and raised in the Philippines; seven years after running a closed-door restaurant out of herBuenos Aires home, she opened Sunae Asian Cantina in 2015 in Palermo Hollywood, putting her beloved Filipino cuisine on Argentina’s food map. She recently hosted Mercedes Solís and Julieta Oriolo for the #MujeresSúperpoderosas pop-up; that series is set to continue in 2019.

Clarisa Krivopisk is the owner of La Crespo  in Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires, which specialises in Jewish food such as hot pastrami, homemade bagels, knishes and varenikes. She is a point of reference in the city for this cuisine.

Daiana Vinci trained in Europe at Hacienda Benazuza, Ferrán Adrià’s hotel and after time leading the kitchen at Dario Gualtieri, she is currently head chef at Mishiguene.

Diana Méndez is a ship’s captain-turned-cook in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego province. She, or fishermen from her tiny four-table restaurant located on the Beagle Channel, take diners out on a fishing boat to catch centolla (spider crab), before hauling it back ashore for her to prepare in a unique sea-to-table dining experience.

Dolli Irigoyen has published countless books such as Producto argentino and hosted dozens of TV cooking series – 16 on El Gourmet channel alone – and is one of Argentina’s most instantly recognisable culinary faces. She remains a force of nature, and supports events such as Masticar food fair. Her products and branding are household names.

Felicitas Pizarro became an instant YouTube hit after winning a contest in the UK run by Jamie Oliver. Her youthful and friendly approach has led her to publish books and appear on TV where she can currently be seen seen co-presenting Canal Trece’s El gran premio de la cocina.

Fernanda Sarasa is one of half of the culinary team and a sommelier at SarasaNegro, widely touted as the best restaurant in Mar del Plata thanks to its creative tasting menu.

Fernanda Tabares runs a contemporary Argentine restaurant in Saavedra, Buenos Aires, gave protocol classes at Gato Dumas culinary school, and is about to open Porteñas, a yerba mate and empanadas bar in Williamsburg, New York City in January 2019.

Florencia Barrientos Paz is one half of El Santa Evita in Palermo, Buenos Aires, which opened in September 2018. A tiny ball of energy, she managed front of house at previous restaurant Perón Perón, vastly contributing to its success. She is also a psychologist.

Florencia Borsani is putting the province of La Pampa on the map at the restaurant she leads in Santa Rosa. A 0km restaurant, Pampa Roja only uses ingredients sourced from this part of Patagonia.

Florencia Montes is one of two head chefs leading the kitchen at two Michelin-starred Mirazur in Mentón, France, which ranked third in World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018.

Florencia Peña is one half of Urondo Bar in Parque Chacabuco, Buenos Aires, working from scratch with ingredients and playing with fermentations, kimchi, vinegars and pickles.

Gabriela Lafuente is one half of El Baqueano in San Telmo, Buenos Aires, a sommelier and front of house. Consistently ranked in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, El Baqueano seeks out ingredients and products from across Argentina and her wine undertakes the same mission. She has undertaken placements at D.O.M. in São Paulo and El Cellar de Can Roca in Spain.

Geraldine Gastaldo is one half of Crizia in Palermo, Buenos Aires. As front of house and restaurant manager, she keeps the flow going at one of the city’s most successful solid fine dining spots, which opened in 2004.

Inés Blondel is pastry chef at Gapasai in La Cumbre, a rural part of the province of Córdoba. This remotely located family-run restaurant focuses on regional ingredients and has a 0km philosophy so a typical dessert might be lavender parfait with caramelised almonds.

Jessica Lekerman is the cook behind healthy lifestyle chain Möoi across Buenos Aires. With five branches under her belt, the former lawyer has also published Cocina con onda.

Johanna Romero is baker and pastry chef at Narda Comedor and the cook responsible for sweetening up teatime every day at the establishment ranked #46 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant. Her sourdough is particularly notable.

Juliana López May is a well-known TV chef with many series under her belt. She’s written five books and is based out of Tigre, Buenos Aires province.

Julieta Caruso worked at Mugaritz near San Sebastián, Spain, for nine years, with two of those in  charge of the kitchen. Today she manages affairs and continues to showcase her creativity at Casa Cavia in Palermo, Buenos Aires.  

Julieta Oriolo was executive chef at BASA Basement Bar for several years; she left to set up La Alacena in Palermo, Buenos Aires, with Mariana Bauza, a splendid café that makes everything from scratch and has an Italian slant.

Leslie Chirino is a chef de partie at Frenchies in Paris, France. She previously worked at NH Hotels and Four Seasons in Buenos Aires.

Li Wei Fu is the chef behind Bao Kitchen, a Taiwanese restaurant in Retiro, Buenos Aires. She runs it together with daughter Meilin Klemann, also a chef as well as nutritionist.

Liza Puglia was born in the US and started off running a closed-door restaurant out of her mother-in-law’s home in Palermo, Buenos Aires. These days NOLA is a successful Cajun space that opened its second branch in November 2018.

Lorena Papasergio is a chef and a sommelier who worked in Mexico for many years opening up restaurants. In 2018, she opened Alegra in Chacarita, Buenos Aires, with chef and sommelier Mariana Achaval.

Lucila Zeballos is the barista and entrepreneur behind the Birkin cafés in Palermo Botánico and Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires.

Luisa González Urquiza is based in La Cumbre, a rural part of the province of Córdoba, and works with regional ingredients to create contemporary Argentine cuisine. She trained in Australia and worked in Punta del Este as well as at classic Buenos Aires establishments Fervor and El Mirasol.

Magalí Zanchi is head chef for 878, Los Galgos and La Fuerza, a trio of establishments from the same stable. Starting out 878 as a 19-year-old, she now oversees all three spaces, catering for a cocktail bar, a rescued bar notable and a vermouth bar in Buenos Aires.

Malvina Gehle is the chef behind Vietnamese restaurant Green Bamboo in Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires, and was a pioneer for Asian food in Argentina when it opened 16 years ago.

María Barrutia trained in France with Michel Bras before opening Restó SCA restaurant two decades ago. These days, the sommelier co-run the prestigious CAVE wine school in Buenos Aires with Flavia Rizzuto.

María Magdalena ‘Magui’ Piaggio leads the kitchen at Restó SCA in Recoleta, Buenos Aires. She was sous chef there for many years before taking the helm, continuing its prestigious culinary path of classy Argentine fare.

Mariana Achaval is a sommelier as well as a chef; she teaches at CAVE wine school and run Bienconvino, a small wine label, in collaboration with sommelier Valeria Mortara. She opened Alegra in Chacarita, Buenos Aires, in 2018 with chef and sommelier Lorena Papasergio.

Mariana ‘China’ Müller fronts her restaurant Casa Cassis in San Carlos de Bariloche, Patagonia. Cooking exclusively with products from the region, she also produces her own line of vinegars, Müller Wolf Vinagres.

Marina Lis Ra was a cook at Niño Gordo, an Asian parrilla in Palermo, Buenos Aires. The Korean-Argentine left recently to embark on a new smaller-scale project. Let’s see what she does next.

Marta Ramírez led Zona Norte’s Captain Cook for a decade, giving southeast Asian cuisine an identity when spices were a swear word in Buenos Aires. She recently closed the restaurant to focus on catering.

Maru Botana is a well-known TV chef who made patisserie accessible through her many TV shows, books such as Las receteas de mi vida and six stores. Her products and branding are household names.

Mavy Jaichenco organises Cocina de los Lagos food festival, and is a well-known face across Patagonia. She is all about promoting the region’s ingredients.

Mercedes Solís helmed the kitchen at Tegui for several years before flying solo in 2017. As a freelancer, she picks and chooses her projects, such as running workshops with Café San Juan, scouting for products for Masticar food festival or working with Pueblo Abierto on community projects.

Mica Najmanovich is one half of Anafe, an open-plan closed-door spot whose dishes are designed for sharing in Chacarita, Buenos Aires over weekend brunch or dinner. During 2018’s G20, the Canadian president dined there. One to watch.

Micaela Paglayan is the restaurateur behind the three Cucina Paradiso establishments, and manager of Donato De Santis. She co-hosts Cuisine y Vins magazine’s radio show La última cena and sometimes cooks at Armenian pop-ups.

Mirta Guaymas was born and bred in Molinos, province of Salta, and is a cook at the Hacienda de Molinos hotel. She is renowned for her tiny and tempting empanadas and was invited by Pueblo Abierto to prepare them at Tegui.

Nadia Harón was born in Spain and previously ran three restaurants in Mendoza, including Urban at O’Fournier winery for more than a decade and Nadia OF, anointed best restaurant in Argentina by the National Academy of Gastronomy in 2010. These days she runs the restaurant at Monteviejo winery in Uco Valley.

Naira Calviño set up Aipim bistrot before moving onto all things pork with Chochán. While this piggy haven closed in the past year, she continues to innovate, cooking at pop-ups and with her Donas de acá doughnut project.

Narda Lepes opened her first restaurant for 17 years in 2017. A celebrity chef known across Latin America for countless TV series on Canal Gourmet, Narda Comedor ranked in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2018 for taking sustainability a step forward. Her products and branding are household names.

Pamela Villar is a pastry chef who runs Yeite Café in Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires. Previous stints include Gran Bar Danzón and Sucre; in 2018 she co-hosted Bake Off Argentina.

Patricia Courtois ran Le Bistrot de la alianza francesa for many years. Today she delves into the pantry of Corrientes province for a hotel in Esteros del Iberá and with ingredients usually served there, in 2018 she won Argentina’s Prix de Baron B culinary contest. She also worked at Río Ancho in Colonia, Uruguay.

Patricia Ramos is chef and parrillera at Nuestro Secreto steakhouse at five-star hotel Four Seasons Buenos Aires, leading the barbecue team. She is the only woman to run this style of restaurant in the city (to my knowledge).

Patricia Suárez Roggerone is executive chef at La Vid restaurant at Bodega Norton in Mendoza, where she runs a tight ship with a fantastic paired tasting menu.

Paula Chiaradia is based in Trevelin, province of Chubut, at Fonda Sur. She forages for herbs and only cooks with local ingredients, and regularly participates in Madryn al Plato food festival.

Paola Carosella heads award-winning Arturito in São Paulo, Brazil, and is a judge on Brazil’s MasterChef. She worked in New York City, Paris, California and Uruguay before moving to Brazil in 2001. She’s published a book called Todas as sextas and is a household name in her adopted country.

Silvina Trouilh co-ran Caseros in San Telmo, Buenos Aires, dealing in splendid fresh simple dishes for many years before branching out to open Rita, a bistrot in Chacarita. She’s currently to be found behind the scenes at BIS, Recoleta, Buenos Aires.

Soledad Nardelli led Chila in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, for its first 10 years, taking it into Latin America’s 50 Best list and appeared in an array of TV shows on El Gourmet; you can tune into her on Chefas radio programme with food writer Mónica Albirzu and sample her dishes at Mendoza’s Club Tapiz, where she has created a sustainable garden.

Vane Zorzoli has been pastry chef at iLatina in Almagro, Buenos Aires, since it opened several years ago. She brings Latin American fruits and flavours together for dessert and also brunch.

Vanina Chimeno runs María Antonieta in Mendoza, a casual dining spot in downtown Mendoza that serves great dishes from breakfast until close. She also co-runs Orégano pizzeria with her husband, a well-known TV chef.

Virginia Lázaro started out as a housekeeper and cleaning lady at Nieto Senetiner winery in Mendoza. Her boss saw potential and Virginia now runs the parrilla at the restaurant single-handedly.

Virginia Marín was born and raised in Cafayate, province of Salta, and she is charge of La Rosa restaurant at El Esteco winery’s Patios de Cafayate hotel.

Ximena Sáenz co-hosts daily cooking show Cocineros Argentinos on TV Pública, which regularly visits and cooks with chefs all around the country. She’s published four books, including Apuntes de cocina in 2017.

Yamila di Renzo is pastry chef at Alo’s in Zona Norte, Buenos Aires. Her deft creativity, well-balanced palate and love for colour has helped put the restaurant on the map.

With thanks to Laura Litvin, Cayetana Vidal, Damián Gianmarino González, Mariana Rapoport and Ceso Pinedo for their contributions.

One thought on “This Is Not A List: notable female chefs in Argentina

  1. Gracias por tenerme en cuenta, gracias por
    reconocer mi trabajo como cocinera y
    productora. Nos alienta a seguir haciendo del
    km0 una manera de vivir y seguir cuidando la
    tierra.

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