Today’s Special: recipes by rising-star female chefs from around the world

Posted by for Food and Drink

A new cookbook shines a spotlight on the finest emerging chefs from around the world. From peppa shrimp to peach and polenta cake, their recipes will broaden your culinary horizons.

Fact: the international dining scene is full of exciting, up-and-coming chefs – many of whom you’ve never heard of. Naming rising-star female chefs can be even more of a challenge: according to an ONS headcount, only 17% of chef positions in the UK are held by women.

But while our knowledge of said newcomers might be scant, that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing great things. In professional kitchens across the world, a new generation of female chefs are changing food culture on a local and global level. All that remains is for us to discover them.

If you’re looking to expand your awareness of the world’s best and brightest new chefs, Today’s Special: 20 Leading Chefs Choose 100 Emerging Chefs (£39.95, Phaidon) is an excellent place to start. In the cookbook, 20 leading chef-curators have each selected five lesser-known chefs from around the world, varying as widely in their personalities as they do as their cuisines.

Alongside profiles introducing each of the 100 chefs, the book contains over 300 innovative recipes – as well as original essays on what it takes to be a standout star in today’s culinary realm.

Today's Special: 20 Leading Chefs Choose 100 Emerging Chefs is out now with Phaidon
Today's Special: 20 Leading Chefs Choose 100 Emerging Chefs is out now with Phaidon

To celebrate the women who are rising to the top in their field, we have five restaurant-grade recipes from female chefs for you to recreate at home.

If you fancy adding some authentic Asian cuisine to your repertoire, Pim Techamuanvivit’s nam prik ong is a spicy chilli and tomato-based dish inspired by Northern Thailand. Thi Le’s eggplant, coconut, peanut, and Thai basil, meanwhile, is a bright vegetarian fusion of traditional Vietnamese and modern Australian flavours.

In search of comfort food beyond your go-to carbs? Try Suzanne Barr’s peppa shrimp with sesame gochujang slaw, which is influenced by the Toronto chef’s Caribbean heritage.

For a simple dessert with plenty of flair, Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt’s peach and polenta cake remixes a retro upside-down recipe into an elegant treat. And for days when you’ve got the time to bake up a storm in the kitchen, Lena Sareini’s pine nut cheesecake with spiced pears is a beautiful celebration of Middle Eastern flavours.

Perfect these recipes at home, and be sure to remember the names of these chefs – this isn’t the last you’ll hear of them.

Pim Techamuanvivit

Pim Techamuanvivit, chef at Kin Khao and Nari in San Francisco and Nahm in Bangkok
Pim Techamuanvivit, chef at Kin Khao and Nari in San Francisco and Nahm in Bangkok

Restaurants: Kin Khao, Nari, Nahm (San Francisco, California, United States; Bangkok, Thailand)

Nominated by: David Kinch

While working in Silicon Valley after graduate school, Pim Techamuanvivit longed for the home cooking of her native Thailand. The Thai restaurants she went to in the United States did not evoke any of the tastes she was searching for, but she knew nothing about reproducing those flavours herself. She decided then that she must learn to cook, and each time she visited Thailand, she added at least one of her grandmother’s recipes to her repertoire, learning from her aunts and other family cooks.

Meanwhile, work had her jet-setting around Europe and dining solo. It was the early 2000s, and she began collecting her thoughts and photographs in a widely read food blog called Chez Pim. In 2014, she opened her first restaurant, Kin Khao, in San Francisco. There, Techamuanvivit serves Thai food as she remembers it from home, with the use of local California ingredients; in a green curry, for instance, in place of chicken she substitutes rabbit, closer in texture to Thailand’s chewy poultry. On the menu, the nam prik long rua – spicy shrimp paste relish with caramelised pork jowl and catfish – apprises diners that it is not for Thai food novices.

A couple of years and many accolades later, Techamuanvivit was invited to lead Nahm, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bangkok known for melding traditional Thai cooking and fine dining. She doubled down on the kitchen’s commitment to small artisans and farmers across Thailand. The restaurant now makes all its curries in-house, sources ingredients such as heirloom rice and small-batch fish sauces, and serves versions of dishes she remembers as a child, such as kanom jeen nam prik (fermented rice noodles in a spicy sweet sauce of coconut, makrut lime, and shrimp).

Techamuanvivit opened Nari in San Francisco in 2019. Here she designs menus to more fully showcase the depth and breadth of Thai cooking, including dishes like kapi plah, a mash of prawns and shrimp paste with green Meyer lemon and samphire. The name Nari means “woman” in both Sanskrit and Thai, and for Techamuanvivit, this articulates who is at the heart of Thai cuisine. 

Pim Techamuanvivit’s nam prik ong

nam prik ong recipe by Pim Techamuanvivit
Pim Techamuanvivit’s nam prik ong

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the paste:

  • 20g puya chili, seeded and chopped
  • 50g shallots, chopped
  • 50g garlic, chopped
  • 15g galangal, chopped
  • 15g lemongrass, chopped
  • 25g red miso

For the pork:

  • 120ml rice bran oil or neutral oil
  • 500g ground pork
  • 500g tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • fish sauce

For serving:

  • fresh vegetables
  • fried pork rinds

Method

To make the paste, process all the paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor until fine.

For the pork, in a saucepan, heat the oil and the paste and cook until fragrant. Add the pork, stir to mix well with the paste, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over low heat until the pork is tender and the tomatoes soft. Season with fish sauce to taste.

Serve with fresh vegetables and pork rinds. 

Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt

Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt, chefs at King NYC
Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt, co-head chefs of King in New York City

Restaurant: King (New York, United States)

Nominated by: Skye Gyngell

Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt are the British co-head chefs of King, a neighbourhood restaurant in New York City that the pair opened in 2016 with Annie Shi, who oversees the front of house and wine program.

Shadbolt and de Boer’s food at King is inspired by seasonal ingredients and the elegant simplicity of French and Italian cuisines, which they incorporate into succinct daily menus that express both their moods and the best and freshest foods available that day. Their signature carta di musica starters, rustic polenta, and grilled meat and fish dishes evolve and revolve around each service but are all beloved among their regulars for their comfort and deceptive simplicity.

The two chefs met while cooking together under Ruth Rogers at the River Café, the famed restaurant in London, before setting their sights on New York as the home of their first business together. In The New York Times, the pair modestly resisted the notion that they are really trained chefs and contended that they merely love to cook and eat — that for them King is akin to cooking at home for friends. And indeed, no matter what their path, with King, they created a restaurant that feels like a home. In a highly competitive dining city, their approach is refreshing and disarming, and they have won accolades and a loyal following for their seemingly effortless but astute cooking.

Under de Boer and Shadbolt’s direction, King received a glowing two-star review from The New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, who additionally named King one of the Top New York Restaurants of 2017. The pair were named Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2018.

Clare de Boer’s and Jess Shadbolt’s peach and polenta cake

peach and polenta cake recipe from King NYC
Clare de Boer’s and Jess Shadbolt’s peach and polenta cake

Serves 10–12

Ingredients

  • 470g sugar
  • 305g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6-8 peaches, nectarines, or plums (or use a mix), peeled, pitted, and halved
  • 230g slivered almonds
  • 230g polenta or cornmeal
  • 70g plain flour
  • ½ tsp (flaked) salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 eggs
  • crème fraîche, for serving

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 23cm round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Cut one long strip of parchment paper to line the sides of the pan so that the paper reaches all the way around the pan, with no gap at the seam, and stands about 7.5cm high.

In a saucepan, combine 200g of the sugar with just enough water to cover. Stir well and set over medium heat. When the sugar turns the colour of maple syrup, remove from the heat and add 35g of the butter. Swirl to incorporate and pour into the cake pan.

Place the fruit flesh-side down in a single layer all over the caramel, cutting a few pieces smaller if necessary to make it all fit. You can cram the fruit in as it will shrink as it cooks.

In a food processor, combine the almonds and polenta and process until fine. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest.

In the same food processor, cream the remaining 270g butter and 270g sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and fold into the ingredients until smooth.

Spoon the batter on top of the fruit and even out the top. Bake until the top is golden in colour, crackled, and firm to the touch, about 2 hours. Set the cake pan on a rack to cool.

Once the cake has completely cooled, loosen the sides with the tip of a knife and flip it over in one quick motion, directly onto a serving platter. Holding onto the upside-down cake pan and the platter at the same time, shake and bump the pan a little, if necessary, to release the cake, before lifting the pan away. Gently peel away any parchment paper.

Slice and serve as is, or with a little crème fraîche on the side. 

Suzanne Barr

Suzanne Barr chef
Suzanne Barr is a chef, restaurateur, author, advocate, and public speaker

Restaurant: True True Diner (Toronto, Ontario)

Nominated by: Selassie Atadika

Chef, restaurateur, author, advocate, and public speaker are just a few words that can be used to describe Suzanne Barr. Although her identity in the food world is largely associated with Toronto, where she has established her family and restaurant career, her past takes us elsewhere on the map.

Born in Toronto but raised mostly in Florida, Barr spent the first phase of her professional life in New York City, where she spent about fifteen years as a producer for MTV before she took a step back to rethink her path, particularly on a spiritual level. This brought her to an ashram in upstate New York, where she volunteered in the kitchen. 

Upon her return to the city, she enrolled in a course at the Natural Gourmet Institute, leaving MTV to focus on cooking. After completing her schooling, she moved to Kauai, Hawaii, for an externship, after which she began working as a private chef for a family. With them, Barr split her time for the next four years between New York City, the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, Miami, and France. She then spent some time on her own living in Miami and France, before meeting her husband and settling in Toronto.

When it comes to her cooking, Barr is inspired by many things: music, her travels, and her Caribbean roots (her mother was born in Jamaica, though raised in England, which has also influenced Barr’s culinary style). But it is emotion and personal experience that have been the dominant influences on her cuisine throughout her various chef roles in Toronto at the Gladstone Hotel and Avling Kitchen and Brewery, as well as Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar on Prince Edward Island. 

Barr’s second venture was True True Diner, where she served comfort food in a modern diner setting. The menu was an homage to Barr’s travels and life experiences. The diner closed in the summer of 2020 following hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Barr, a frequent speaker, writer, and advocate for marginalised communities, is still doing important work in the wake of her restaurant’s closure. She works for her community as a board member for two non-profits championing mental health for service industry workers, and food security, respectively. At the 2018 Women In Hospitality United symposium in New York City, she presented The Dinette’s Program, which provides training and support to a new generation of women leaders in the restaurant industry. 

Suzanne Barr’s peppa shrimp

peppa shrimp with sesame gochujang slaw
Suzanne Barr’s peppa shrimp with sesame gochujang slaw

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the shrimp:

  • 1 box tiger prawns with heads on (20–22 pcs per box)
  • 2 litres water
  • 1 litre white wine
  • 500ml orange juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into medium dice
  • 2 oranges sliced 1½ inch thick
  • 1 leek, sliced into 2 inch rounds
  • 4 head fennel, cut into medium dice
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 2 carrots, cut into medium dice
  • 1 tbsp salt

For the peppa sauce:

  • 2 pcs pickled scotch bonnet (quick pickle scotch bonnets; reserve liquid for hot sauce)
  • 375ml bouillon liquid
  • 4-5 cloves peeled garlic
  • 5 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 tbsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 60ml orange juice
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 220g chopped parsley

Method 

To make the shrimp, fill a large bowl with ice and water place aside. Prepare all ingredients except prawns and place in large stock pot and bring to boil over medium high heat. 

Add prawns to pot and cook for 5–9 minutes or until shrimp turns pink (be sure to check heads as they sometimes need additional time). Remove prawns and place in ice bath until ready to mix with sauce.

To make the peppa sauce, place all ingredients into a blender until combined into a rich, red, saucy consistency. Remove prawns from ice bath and place in bowl (be sure there is no excess water). 

To serve, pour peppa sauce onto prawns. Using gloves, mix well until prawns are covered in sauce. Garnish with curly scallions and chopped parsley and serve with sesame gochujang slaw (below). Be sure to suck the head… Enjoy! 

Suzanne Barr’s sesame gochujang slaw

Serves 4-6

Ingredients 

  • 125ml red wine vinegar
  • 125ml lime juice
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp gochujang paste
  • 250ml toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground peppercorns
  • 1 head napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • ½ medium red onion, julienned
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced bias cut
  • 2 julienned carrots, bias cut
  • 110g sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds

Method 

To make the dressing, place all ingredients in a small bowl except oil, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle oil into the bowl until vinaigrette consistency is achieved. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix the dressing with the cabbage, red onion, spring onions and carrots. Add the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Mix well, until vegetables are fully coated.

Serve with peppa shrimp and a caipirinha! Enjoy!

Thi Le

Thi Le, chef at Anchovy in Richmond, Australia
Thi Le is the owner and head chef at Anchovy in Richmond, Australia

Restaurant: Anchovy (Richmond, Australia)

Nominated by: Jessica Koslow

Thi Le opened the 30-seat Anchovy in the Melbourne, Australia, suburb of Richmond in 2015 with her partner, Jia-Yen Lee. They had only a couple of pots, one pan, and two pizza trays. Le had never led a kitchen, and didn’t think she was ready. Lee managed to convince her otherwise, and indeed, Anchovy quickly attracted attention and accolades. The menu, self-described as “modern Asian,” “modern Australian,” and “a little bit in-between,” is full of flavour-packed, category-flaunting dishes, and displays a compelling pastiche of influences, from Le’s Vietnamese heritage to the contemporary Australian dining scene.

Le honed an interest in food at a young age. She points to her mother’s beef tartare, served in an effort to not waste meat after making pho, as making an early impression. In high school, she experimented with Australian grocery-store staples, like Old El Paso taco shells and KanTong chicken sauces, which for Le, raised in the kitchen of her refugee mother, were novel. 

Later, travelling in Europe as a design student, she found that she took more interest in uncovering food stories than in looking at architecture. When she returned to Sydney, she enrolled in culinary studies at TAFE, Australia’s largest vocational institution. Le went on to work for Christine Manfield, known as “The Spice Queen,” at Universal, where she developed a familiarity with using bold flavours, and honed her palate. Later, Le was spellbound by the pared-down, simple dishes of Andrew McConnell, who she worked for at Cumulus and the now-closed Luxembourg. McConnell also fostered Le’s relationship with fresh produce, and taught her to lead a kitchen.

Now, the menu at Anchovy showcases a culinary proficiency that still melds Le’s personal and professional histories. She’s known for her dish of Vietnamese blood pudding, served crispy and brightened with herbs and pickled ginger; a salad of pickled sardines, green mango, pomelo, and rau dang (knotweed); a wallaby-tail-stuffed savoury pastry served with tomato relish; and Le’s own version of raw beef, inspired by her childhood, served carpaccio-style, with pencil leeks and mam. 

Thi Le’s aubergine, coconut, peanut and thai basil

aubergine, coconut, peanut and thai basil recipe
Thi Le’s aubergine, coconut, peanut and thai basil

Serves 2–3

Ingredients

For the green chili dressing:

  • 35g garlic
  • 7–10g bird’s eye chillies
  • 35g coriander root
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 75g lime juice
  • 55g fish sauce

For the smoked coconut cream:

  • 100g coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp tea smoke mix (below)

For the tea smoke mix:

  • 60g tea leaves
  • 10g mandarin peel
  • 50g jasmine rice
  • 140g brown sugar
  • 40g star anise
  • 15g Sichuan pepper
  • 20g cassia bark 

For assembly:

  • 1 fairy tale aubergine
  • 50g green chilli dressing (above)
  • 2½ tbsp smoked coconut cream (above)
  • 1 tbsp fig leaf oil
  • 2½ tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp pickled shallots
  • 1 makrut lime leaf, finely slivered
  • Thai basil

Method

For the green chilli dressing, pound the garlic and chillies in a mortar and pestle until smooth. Add the coriander root and pound until smooth. Add the sugar and incorporate until dissolved. Add the lime juice and fish sauce. Check the seasoning — this dressing should be hot.

For the smoked coconut cream, smoke the coconut cream with tea smoke mix for 2 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble and plate, steam the aubergine for 5–8 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into chunks. Place in a bowl and marinate with the green chilli dressing and smoked coconut cream for 1 minute. The eggplant should absorb the dressing. Add the fig leaf oil. Check the seasoning and adjust if required.

Place the aubergine on a plate, cover with the peanuts, shallots, and lime leaf. Garnish with a Thai basil sprig.

Lena Sareini

Pastry chef Lena Sareini
Pastry chef Lena Sareini

Restaurant: Selden Standard (Detroit, Michigan, United States)

Nominated by: Marcus Samuelsson 

Lena Sareini was just 22 years old when she was hired at Selden Standard in Detroit, wowing management with a lemon tart so good, restaurant partner Evan Hansen licked his plate to finish. It was an auspicious start for a marvel wise beyond her years, a gifted pastry chef whose natural instincts, paired with a hunger for perpetual improvement, set a high standard for America’s next generation of cooking talent.

A native of Dearborn, Michigan, Sareini is the daughter of a Lebanese father and an Irish mother, and kitchen influences from both sides of her family steered her toward a professional cooking path early in life. After high school she enrolled at Schoolcraft College, and it didn’t take long for Joseph Decker, the decorated instructor who conceived the institution’s Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts curriculum, to recognise her potential. He brought on Sareini as his sous-chef while she was still a student, fast-tracking her growth in preparation for her entering the professional world of restaurants.

Since landing at Selden Standard in 2015, Sareini has earned well-deserved national attention for her dessert menu, on which she never repeats a dish — a self-imposed stricture that motivates her to continue challenging herself, in addition to keeping diners intrigued. Adhering closely to the local and seasonal ethos of the restaurant, Sareini possesses an uncanny knack for marrying Middle Eastern flavours, classical French pastry techniques, and her own original ideas, simultaneously celebrating her culture and showcasing her skills on the plate.

Her spin on kanafeh comes topped with a quenelle of ashta, rich and fragrant clotted cream, though traditional feta is swapped for tangy goat cheese. Simple Lebanese-style rice pudding gets a fine-dining makeover with dukkah spice, pine-nut brittle, and green strawberries. Savoury ingredients not typically associated with dessert, including cumin, bay leaf, olive, and squid ink, make their way into her meringues, ice creams, crumbles, and many other surprising dishes. While her upbeat personality might create the impression that her desserts are effortless, there is a massive amount of preparation, creativity, and perspective apparent in all of Sareini’s work. 

Lena Sareini’s pine nut cheesecake with spiced pears

pine nut cheesecake with spiced pears recipe
Lena Sareini’s pine nut cheesecake with spiced pears

Makes 60 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients

For the baklava filling:

  • 475g cashews, toasted and cooled
  • 265g pine nuts, toasted and cooled
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • salt

For the baklava:

  • 4 sheets filo dough
  • clarified butter, as needed

For the baklava filling:

  • orange blossom simple syrup
  • pistachios, for sprinkling

For the pine nut cheesecake:

  • 2.835kg full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 780g granulated sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 780g sour cream, at room temperature
  • 500g pine nuts, toasted and cooled
  • 10 eggs, at room temperature

For the pine nut cream:

  • 1.8kg whipping cream
  • 150g icing sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g pine nuts, toasted and cooled

For the spiced pears:

  • 12 pears
  • lemon juice
  • 80g brown sugar
  • 4g ground cardamom
  • 4g ground cinnamon
  • 4g salt

For plating:

  • ground pistachios
  • pomegranate molasses

Method

For the baklava filling, in a food processor, combine the nuts, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pulse until the nuts are ground enough to clump up in your fist.

For the baklava, preheat the oven to 150°C.

Brush a sheet of filo dough with clarified butter and lay another sheet of dough on top. Repeat this two more times. In total there should be 4 layers of filo with clarified butter brushed in between. 

Spread the baklava filling in a 1½–2cm line going across the sheet of filo. Press the nut mixture so that it holds its shape in a line. Carefully roll one-third of the dough over the filling into a log and slice off. Repeat the process two more times. You should get three logs of baklava out of the stacked filo. Brush the logs with clarified butter. Cut the baklava logs into 1-inch pieces.

Bake for 24 minutes. Immediately brush with the orange blossom simple syrup and sprinkle with pistachios. Cool completely before serving.

For the pine nut cheesecake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Coat silicone moulds with oil spray.

In a large mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and salt and cream on the lowest speed until fully incorporated, stopping to scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl often.

In a blender, process the sour cream and pine nuts until smooth. Strain the mixture into the cream cheese mixture and beat until incorporated, again stopping to scrape down often. Add the eggs 1 or 2 at a time. Scrape down for a final time and mix until fully incorporated. Try to mix as little as possible to avoid any aeration.

Scrape the batter into the moulds and place the moulds in a water bath. Bake until the cheesecake’s internal temperature reads 82°C, about 14 minutes. Let cool, then freeze before removing from the moulds.

For the pine nut cream, in a saucepan, heat the cream, sugar, and salt. Whisk the pine nuts into the warming cream mixture and heat until it begins to steam, just before a simmer. Transfer to a blender and blend until completely smooth. Strain through a chinois. Cool over an ice bath. Once cool, whip to desired whipped cream consistency.

For the spiced pears, peel, halve, and core the pears and rinse them in lemon juice to avoid oxidation.

Cut the pears into small dice and transfer to a medium pot. Add the brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and bubbling and the pears no longer taste raw but still have some texture to them.

To plate, place a piece of cheesecake on the plate. Sprinkle ground pistachios in a line on the right side of the cheesecake. Place three mini pieces of baklava on top of the line of pistachios. Pipe dots of pine nut cream randomly going up the plate. 

Spoon spiced pears over the cheesecake, falling over the left side of it. Drizzle the pears with pomegranate molasses. 

Today’s Special: 20 Leading Chefs Choose 100 Emerging Chefs (£39.95, Phaidon) is out now

Photography: Samuel Engelking; Juan Cristóbal Cobo; Mark Roper; Lena Sareini, Selden Standard; Anson Smart, Alanna Hale

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.