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Women's Month collage
Photograph: Time Out

Women’s History Month: 5 Time Out Market chefs and restaurateurs you should know

In honor of Women’s History Month, meet the chefs, businesswomen and restaurateurs leveling up our Markets around the world.

Virginia Gil
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Virginia Gil
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It’s true that Time Out Markets are filled with culinary talents of all backgrounds, genders and cultures. After all, these spaces capture the soul of their respective cities. But it’s also true that the women who make up our lot of chefs, restaurateurs, managers and staff are exceptional and, with that said, deserving of some extra recognition.

This month, we’re highlighting five badass ladies from our network of North American markets, including New York, Montreal, Miami, Boston and Chicago. We’ve asked about the female mentors who’ve shepherded them on their path to success, the thing they love most about working in restaurants and what advice they’d share with future generations of aspiring chefs and restaurateurs. Here’s what these inspiring women had to say.

Ivy Stark
Photograph: Ali Garber

Time Out Market New York

Ivy Stark
Chef at Ivy Stark Mexology

Who’ve been some of your mentors along the way?

I have two: I did my culinary externship with Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger at the Border Grill in Los Angeles. They’re a couple of people who started very early doing fresh Mexican food with fresh seasonal ingredients. I still remain friends with them and in touch—and I still consider them mentors.

What advice would you give to other aspiring women chefs in the industry?

I would say just do your own good job. Don’t worry about what other people say just keep your head down, work, and don't let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

What do you love most about what you do?

Besides cooking, of course, it’s the camaraderie with my staff. Most of the people that I work with have been working with me for 20-plus years. I know their families, I’ve seen them get married, I’ve seen their children grow up and I just love them. It’s like another family for me.

Who’s inspired you locally?

I’d say Zarela Martínez, who was a pioneer in bringing good, authentic Mexican food to New York City, and Lidia Bastianich—the first female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars. Those women were ahead of their time doing it and I looked up to them when I was a young cook and I still look up to them today.

What’s your superpower?

The ability to whip up a margarita and a four-course Mexican meal in less than an hour!

Nancy Cushman
Photograph: Jess Nash

Time Out Market Boston

Nancy Cushman
Advanced sake professional and restaurateur behind Gogo Ya

Who’s been an important part of your journey as a restaurateur?

My biggest mentor has always been my mom, Lois. Her perspective of not being in the industry has actually been very helpful through the years. But most importantly, she always told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. And she’s been right so far. Everyone needs a life champion.

What advice would you give to other aspiring women restaurateurs in the industry?

Do your homework…and then always trust your gut. Your intuition and instinct are always right. You gain more confidence in your gut as you get older but it’s always there no matter your age or experience.

What do you love most about what you do?

The people. The staff and guests that I have met and relationships formed over the past 15 years. Often unexpected and something I didn’t think about before opening the restaurants. But now is the most rewarding aspect. And getting to work every day with my husband and chef-partner Tim. People ask all the time how that works but we love it.

What’s your superpower?

Empathizing with and reading people—sensing if what they are saying is matching truly how they are thinking and feeling. You have to do that in restaurants with staff and with guests. I ultimately want to work with and feed happy people.

What’s the one thing you can’t leave home without?

Definitely and not surprisingly: hand sanitizer!

Sandra Ferreira
Photograph: JF Savaria

Time Out Market Montreal

Sandra Ferreira
Second-generation restaurateur behind Campo

If you could name one female mentor that inspired you to be where you are today, who would that be?

Marie Chevrier, a friend of mine who I worked for in New York right before moving back to Montreal to join my father's restaurant business. She is the founder and CEO of Sampler, a revolutionary sample-distribution app. Not only was she a great colleague and boss, but her passion and dedication for her business were also impressive. I remember telling myself that I had to find something that would drive me just as much.... that's when I decided to move back to Montreal to join the family business.

What advice would you give to other aspiring women restaurateurs in the industry?

Be ready to work. Surround yourself with people that share the same values and work ethics. Trust your instinct.

What do you love most about what you do?

The people. Being surrounded by a diverse group of colleagues and customers never gives for a dull moment.

You’re a second-generation restaurateur with two young children. What lessons do you hope to impart upon them? Do you hope they follow in your footsteps?

I have a 19-month-old daughter and a boy who is two weeks old. I would like for them to learn the sense of responsibility and accountability at a young age: that we don’t always do things strictly for our best interests; that we must have a sense of community and teamwork. [I want them to] take pleasure and pride in doing things for others as well. I hope they follow their passion and what they are good at... no matter the field they choose. 

Heather Bublick
Photograph: Neil Burger

Time Out Market Chicago

Heather Bublick
Chef and co-owner of Soul & Smoke

Tell us about a woman who’s inspired you most in your life.

My Grandmother. She was smart, tough as nails, and dedicated to her family.

What advice would you give to other aspiring women restaurateurs in the industry?

Being in the hospitality industry is hard, [and] it's even harder as a woman and as a mother. Though not impossible, you can have a family and be a leader in the food industry. Find people to work with who support you and anything is possible.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love working collaboratively with my team. Our office is an open floor plan and there's seven of us, all women and then Chef. We work really collaboratively together.

What’s your superpower?

I have an almost photographic memory. I remember just about everything, except for when I don't.

What’s the one thing you always carry in your bag?

My sunglasses.

Amaris Jones
Photograph: James Woodley

Time Out Market Miami

Amaris Jones
Chef at Chick'n Jones

Who’s inspired you the most in your life and career?

My mom—she’s is the strongest woman I know. Her faith is unparalleled. She is my why. As far as my career goes, it’s the late great Edna Lewis, who was the grand dame of Southern cuisine. She taught the masses how to cook and eat seasonally.

What advice would you give to other aspiring women restaurateurs in the industry?

The restaurant industry is a bit challenging. I would say stay in your power. Don’t be afraid to take risks but always remember to take care of yourself.

What do you love most about what you do?

Food constantly changes and that means I’m constantly learning—I love that. It’s a continuous meditative creative process for me.

What’s your superpower?

I am a master dot connecter.

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