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Helen Yung of Sweet Republic co-owns the Best of Phoenix 2018 winning ice cream shop and was a chef at the 2019 Devour Culinary Classic.
Helen Yung of Sweet Republic co-owns the Best of Phoenix 2018 winning ice cream shop and was a chef at the 2019 Devour Culinary Classic.
Evie Carpenter

9 Stories Celebrating Women in the Phoenix Food World

It’s International Women’s Day, and while that celebrates females around the globe, we want to be a little selfish and talk about some of the women in Phoenix. And specifically in the food world.

The Valley is home to a number of impressive chefs and bartenders, food-makers and drink-makers, who are true adventurers. They take chances, they put themselves out there, they help others, and they explore all Arizona has to offer (which usually means ingredients, but can refer to some metaphorical stuff as well).

Let’s take a look back at some of the more recent and impressive stories we’ve seen about women within Phoenix’s food culture — each heralding the "balance for better" message.

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Bonnie Jackson of Irene's Tap Room.
Bonnie Jackson of Irene's Tap Room.
Mer Norwood

Four Female Brewery and Bar Founders in Greater Phoenix
We recently profiled four female brewery and bar founders and owners in greater Phoenix. We discuss their decisions to start a business, what they like about beer, and what advice they’d give other women looking to break into craft beer.

Charleen Badman is a vegetable whisperer ... and James Beard Award semifinalist.EXPAND
Charleen Badman is a vegetable whisperer ... and James Beard Award semifinalist.
Chris Malloy

Six Female Chefs From Phoenix Area Nominated for 2019 James Beard Awards
Yes, out of eight semifinalists in the Phoenix area, six female chefs were named semifinalists for the 2019 James Beard Awards. Presented by the James Beard Foundation, these awards are considered the Super Bowl of food awards for chefs. This is just the first round, so this story is still unfolding.

Samantha Hickman in her natural habitat — behind the bar at Windsor.
Samantha Hickman in her natural habitat — behind the bar at Windsor.
Courtesy of Upward Projects

The Heats Were On: Could a Woman Finally Win the Devour Bartending Title?
The eighth annual Devour Bartending Competition kicked off the 2019 Devour Week with a first — a female bartender from Windsor won the whole thing. Here’s how it went down, and what went into her winning cocktail.

Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery.EXPAND
Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery.
Courtesy of Devour Culinary Classic

What Four Female Chefs Are Bringing to Devour
The 10th annual Devour Culinary Classic was a majorly fun weekend of amazing weather and scenery, and of course some visionary dishes. We ate some amazing stuff, but we also talked with four female chefs from both days about the early days of their culinary career to what they were bringing to Devour 2019.

"We’ll feed you,” says chef Silvana Salcido Esparza during the partial government shutdown in January 2019.EXPAND
"We’ll feed you,” says chef Silvana Salcido Esparza during the partial government shutdown in January 2019.
Chris Malloy

Unpaid Federal Employees Enjoying Free Meals at Barrio Cafe
During the 35-day partial government shutdown, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza started giving away free meals to federal workers. Here’s how she was inspired to help out her fellow humans, and how one FBI agent just blissed out over a mango salad.

Megan Greenwood of Greenwood Brewery
Megan Greenwood of Greenwood Brewery
Mer Norwood

Woman-Owned Greenwood Brewing to Open on Roosevelt Row
Back in January, Greenwood Brewing owner Megan Greenwood raised $68,000 on Kickstarter to open the Greenwood Brewery & Beer Garden in the n the Roosevelt Row Arts District. Here’s how this home brewer made her way to opening a female-owned brewery in RoRo.

Tamara Stanger forages the Sonoran Desert for local ingredients.EXPAND
Tamara Stanger forages the Sonoran Desert for local ingredients.
Chris Malloy

A Journey to the Heart of New Arizonan Cuisine
Follow our food critic (then editor) Chris Malloy as he joins a group of chefs, including Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper (and 2018 Best of Phoenix winner for Best Visionary), into the wilderness of northern Arizona to forage for ancient ingredients. These are the pioneers of New Arizonan cuisine.

Chef and owner Chrysa Robertson has the attention for detail.EXPAND
Chef and owner Chrysa Robertson has the attention for detail.
Jackie Mercandetti

The Final Essential: A Classic Restaurant That Channels the Southwest's Seasons
Rancho Pinot was named our No. 1 Essential in 2018. For 25 years, Chrysa Robertson's restaurant has been churning out food that masterfully harnesses the desert seasons. Here's how she got there, and how Rancho Pinot earned the top spot.

Joyce and Jessica Boutwell, co-owners of Ruze Cake House in Scottsdale.
Joyce and Jessica Boutwell, co-owners of Ruze Cake House in Scottsdale.
Courtesy of Jessica Boutwell

Best of Phoenix 2018 Winners
In additional to Stanger's award, a number of BOPs went out to female business owner, restaurant runners, and innovators in 2018. This includes The Maine Lobster Lady winning Best Food Truck, Sweet Republic winning Best Ice Cream (co-founded by Helen Yung), Best Japanese Restaurant going to Hana Japanese Eatery (co-owned by chef Lori Hashimoto), and Ruze Cake House — co-owned by Jessica Rose Boutwell — winning Best Dessert Design.

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