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Because These Sistas Are Doin’ It For Themselves

Written By: Charlotte Farrell Female Chefs LA

Stephanie Franz of The Strand House and Shade Hotels

Q: How does it feel to be voted one of LA’s favorite female chefs?

Stephanie Franz: I was honored to be recognized next to other female chefs of this caliber. We all have unique styles and cooking techniques, but we have the same thing in common: we are motivated and devoted women to our craft and it shows through our food.

Q: You are in a male-dominated profession. What would you say to other aspiring female chefs that want to break into the industry?

SF: Stay strong, follow your passion, never give up and don’t let anyone get in the way of that. This is not only a very physically and mentally demanding job, but yes, it is also very male dominating. Have a voice and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself when needed.

Q: What inspires you when it comes to developing your creations?

SF: I get inspiration from so many things; whether it be using produce that’s in season, traveling, trying new restaurants, working with fellow chefs and reinventing some of my childhood favorites with modern twists. I am always trying to gain more knowledge and push myself to do better.

Q: What made you want to be a chef in the first place?

SF: I love creating things, imagining them and watching them come to life. As a teenager I would bake as a hobby, but as I got older it turned more into an obsession. It happened very organically. I enrolled into culinary school right after graduating high school. I knew this was what I was meant to do. I would read cookbooks and watch food shows non-stop and got inspiration and knowledge from anywhere I could.

The Strand House
117 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310.545.7470

The Shade Hotel Manhattan Beach
1221 N Valley Dr
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310.546.4995

The Shade Hotel Redondo Beach
655 N Harbor Dr
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
310.921.8940

 

Chef Caroline Concha of Beelman’s

Q: How does it feel to be voted one of LA’s favorite female chefs?

Caroline Concha: I feel loved and honored!

Q: How would you describe your particular style of cuisine?

CC: Unique, fun and spicy, with a little Asian funk.

Q: You are in a male-dominated profession. What would you say to other aspiring female chefs that want to break into the industry?

CC: To believe in yourself. Be who you are and everything will fall into its place. The struggle is real, but it’s worth it at the end of the day, and you go home feeling truly proud.

Q: What is your favorite dish on your menu?

CC: My favorite is our Loco Moco Bowl.

Native Knowledge: Order off the secret menu—you can add kale and have it wrapped into a tortilla to make it into a delicious take on a chimichanga.

600 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213.622.1022

 

Chef Maiki Le of Upstairs 2

Q: How does it feel to be voted one of LA’s favorite female chefs?

Maiki Le: It was such an honor to be nominated as one of Los Angeles’ favorite female chefs! The roster of candidates was highly impressive and I almost couldn’t believe I was on the same list with all these amazing chefs!

Q: You are in a male-dominated profession. What would you say to other aspiring female chefs that want to break into the industry?

ML: As I was coming up the ranks as a young chef, I always had female role models to look up to. I hope that the young chefs of today feel the same way. There are clearly many uncomfortable nuances to working in a male-dominated industry as a female, but strength of conviction, determination and hard work will eventually pay off. The professional kitchen can be full of gender bias and discrimination, and I want aspiring young women to be aware of their self worth as well as their professional worth. We have to be fearless for ourselves and cautious of others.

Q: What ingredients are your favorite to work with?

ML: I love working with meat, fish and grains, but my favorite ingredients to work with are seasonal produce! It really keeps me on my toes creatively and I feel like every season brings a different surprise, whether it’s in the form of a new fruit or vegetable, or a familiar one that catches one off guard. And I love dried spices, especially making our own curries and seasoning mixes. I love how a few spices here and there can completely change the direction of a dish and transport us from culture to culture.

Q: What made you want to be a chef in the first place?

ML: When I was young I always had a keen attention to food and cooking. In my family, food is the center of every gathering, big or small, and it carried such a sense of togetherness and nurturing that I always had very strong, positive emotions associated with food, cooking and eating.

2311 Cotner Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90064
310.231.0316

Chef Vanda Asapahu of Ayara Thai Cuisine

Q: How does it feel to be voted one of LA’s favorite female chefs?

Vanda Asapahu: It feels pretty freakin’ awesome! I respect so many female chefs throughout LA and to be included is an honor!

Q: How would you describe your particular style of cuisine?

VA: Home-cooked Thai food with SoCal inspirations. Each week my team and I stroll through local farmers markets and hand pick ingredients which we incorporate into our recipes at the restaurant.

Q: You are in a male-dominated profession. What would you say to other aspiring female chefs that want to break into the industry?

VA: Work hard and never stop learning.

Q: When you are developing a new dish, what is your process?

VA: Get inspired, test and retest until I get it right. Sometimes it can be a process, but the end result is always worth it.

6245 W 87th St
Los Angeles, CA 90045
310.881.4498

 

Marge Manzke of Republique and Sari Sari Store

Q: How does it feel to be voted one of LA’s favorite female chefs?

Marge Manzke: With so many talented female chefs in the city, I am honored to be voted as one of LA’s favorites. I also have a great team made of talented women and men behind me, and I’m really proud of them. When people tell me something I made tastes or looks great, I try to give my team a lot of the credit—I’d never be able to accomplish all of this without them.

Q: How would you describe your particular style of cuisine?

MM: My style is constantly changing and I try to make things exciting. I am always looking for new things to try, new things to make, new dishes or pastries to test out. I make things I love, whether that is breakfast pastries or more traditional pastries. I love a good croissant.

Q: You are in a male-dominated profession. What would you say to other aspiring female chefs that want to break into the industry?

MM: I was taught to have a good work ethic from a young age and if you don’t work hard, you won’t get anything. It is also important to have a passion for what you are doing and to always be willing to learn, especially in this industry.

Q: What about your restaurant makes it different from the rest?

MM: We just wanted to make simple food done really well, with good ingredients. There’s no secret to the bread or pastries—the technique and the ingredients play a big part. It also definitely comes down to the people who work with us. From the first day we opened until now, it’s been really amazing.

624 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
310.362.6115