To celebrate International Women’s Day today, the stars of Food Network Canada are eager to tip their chef’s hat off to the women who have inspired them the most. From long time family friends to up-and-comers, these women have made a lasting impression in and outside the kitchen.
Anne Yarymowich’s Local Influence
“The most influential woman in the trajectory of my career as a chef has to be hands down Donna Dooher; local talent, entrepreneur, chef, restaurant proprietor and current president of Restaurants Canada,” says the Chopped Canada judge.
“Donna, chef and owner of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (the reincarnation of Mildred Pierce Restaurant), took me on and gave me a chance at my first position as Chef de Cuisine. The restaurant, named after the film noir Mildred Pierce, featuring Joan Crawford as a gutsy female restaurant entrepreneur, opened its doors for its first brunch on International Women’s Day, March 8, 1990.
I cut my teeth and built my reputation as a chef as the restaurant gained success and acclaim with the support, guidance and mentorship of Donna Dooher. Throughout my career, I have done my best to pay it forward to as many women chefs as I could. A shout out has to go to my Mom who taught me not only how to cook, but how to be a decent human being.”
Devin Connell’s Family Friend
This Chef in Your Ear star says Mary Risley from Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco made the biggest impact on her career. “Mary started one of North America’s most respected cooking schools, is an award winning cookbook author, the founder of Food Runners (The American Second Harvest) and was at the forefront of the slow food movement in California, along with Alice Waters. She has been a long time family friend who allowed me to stay with her in San Francisco before I started Delica,” she says.
“Being with Mary was always an adventure, whether it was having lunch with Chuck Williams (founder of Williams-Sonoma), taking daily visits to the best local farmers markets, or preparing grand feasts in her cooking studio with her foodie friends. She taught me that the best food starts with the best quality ingredients. She also taught me to go with my gut, and not to get too precious about process. She has a famous YouTube video called Just Put the $%&!ing Turkey in the Oven. That pretty much sums her up. She’s brutally honest, for better or worse, which is what you need from a mentor.”
Eden Grinshpan’s Fellow Food Mates
This Chopped Canada judge fell in love with cooking when she discovered Food Network Canada in grade 10.
“Some of my favorite shows were hosted by women. Nigella Lawson, Rachel Ray and Ina Garten were my top faves, and they always made food seem so effortless, fun and exciting! It was definitely a huge inspiration for me to get into the kitchen and eventually apply to culinary school,” she says.
Elizabeth Faulkner’s Protégé
“I had a protégé years ago, a pastry chef named Maya Erikson and she just did one of those Munchies videos,” explains the judge of Donut Showdown. “[Maya is] super cute, super talented and dedicated. She’s really young too — she started with me when she was like 16 and stuck around, becoming one of the pastry chefs at my restaurant. Later, [at the age of 23] she went on to work at a restaurant called Lazy Bear in San Francisco.”
Anna Olson’s Grandmother
“I think about mentorship more and more as I progress through my career and life,” says the Bake With Anna Olson star. “I think this is because I have transitioned from the apprentice to the teacher, and with that comes an appreciation for those who have guided me personally and professionally throughout my life, many of them women. I’d like to share my very first and most impactful mentor in my life: my grandmother.
Grandma took care of her family but took the most pleasure in cooking and baking for them. As a child, I quickly came to appreciate that if I wanted to spend time with Grandma, then I had to spend time in the kitchen. At an early age she would set me to task on easy things — learning how to break eggs easily or whisk up a pancake batter and as I grew, she would challenge me with greater responsibility. We connected over cookies, cakes and doughnuts, and in her later years, when her memory would betray her, I could see the sparkle come back in her eye when we started talking about cabbage rolls and perogies. Her name was Julia, and even though I would fondly watch Julia Child flambée and sautée her way around the kitchen on TV, it was my own Grandma Julia that was my personal mentor.”