10 incredible female chefs in Vancouver

In an industry dominated by men, Vancouver’s talented female chefs are in league of their own. Support the sisterhood at these culinary hotspots where ambitious alpha-females are bucking the trend and serving up some of the best food in the city. [Image of Tabatha Stahl courtesy of Railtown Café. Photo credit: Jelger + Tanja Photographers]

Dock Lunch

1
152 11th Ave E, Vancouver, BC V5T 2C2

Elizabeth Bryan is the one-woman show (owner, chef and server) behind Dock Lunch, a not-so-secret hidden gem located in a 100-year-old building just off Main Street. Stepping inside this intimate 16-seat café feels like revisiting your grandmother’s living room thanks to the cozy furnishings, vintage tchotchkes and a bookshelf stocked with well-worn cookbooks. Elizabeth has family roots in South Carolina, so it’s no surprise her home-style cooking veers towards Southern soul food and internationally inspired comfort cuisine. The seasonally driven menu changes daily so be sure to check the Dock Lunch Instagram account to see what’s cookin’.

Burdock & Co Restaurant

2
2702 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8

The former frontwoman at two of Vancouver’s most esteemed dining institutions – Bishop’s and the now-defunct Raincity Grill – chef Andrea Carson ventured out on her own in 2013 to launch a new project in Mount Pleasant. She’s earned plenty of critical acclaim as the head chef at Burdock and Co. thanks to her ingredient-driven menu of seasonal, farm-to-table inspired fare. Brunch and dinner dishes are elegantly plated yet entirely approachable, and always showcase organic meat and produce sourced from nearby farms and urban suppliers. Diners can also sample Andrea’s cuisine at Harvest Community Foods, a community-focused noodle-bar-meets-bodega in Chinatown.

L'Abattoir

3
217 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J2

L’Abbatoir might specialize in carnivorous cuisine and creative cocktails, but in-the-know foodies rave about the restaurant’s not-so-humble breadbasket – a mountain of doughy delights that includes spiced flatbread, bacon brioche and parmesan puff pastry twists. The woman behind Vancouver’s most in-demand breadbasket is pastry chef Hilary Prince. While Hilary may have studied biology at McGill University, she found her true calling in the kitchen. After working at Montreal’s award-winning DNA restaurant, she relocated to Vancouver to helm L’Abbatoir’s pastry kitchen. From decadent desserts to fresh-baked breads to scrumptious brunch pastries, Hilary’s baked goods will have you asking for another round.

Culver City Salads

4
Hastings & Thurlow Vancouver, Vancouver, BC V6E 4M1

Sisters Christina and Sarah Culver are the fab femmes behind Vancouver’s greenest food truck. If clean, plant-based, gluten-free eating is your jam, these wholesome salads are your best bet when looking for a nutritious lunch on the go. Even devout carnivores have been known to swoon over these brightly coloured lunchboxes packed with fresh veggies, healthful grains and handcrafted dressings. Spot these salad-slinging sisters parked in their namesake truck at Hastings and Thurlow on weekdays (except Monday) from 11:15 am to 2:15 pm. You can also pick up fresh-made Culver City Salads at Krokodile Pear locations across the city.

Railtown Catering and Cafe

5
968 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1N9

Sous chef Tabatha Stahl has been a fixture in the kitchen at Railtown Café since 2012. The talented chef spent her childhood in Williams Lake, B.C., learning how to harvest produce while perfecting family recipes alongside her grandmother. After graduating from culinary school in 2007, she relocated to Vancouver and began honing her skills at a number of the city’s acclaimed restaurants (including CinCin Ristorante) before joining the Railtown team. Today, Tabatha specializes in preparing fast, fresh fare for hungry lunch-hour crowds who flock to Railtown in droves to chow down on colourful signature salads, gourmet sandwiches and scratch-made desserts.

Osteria Savio Volpe Italian Restaurant

6
615 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5T 3K5

Working with speed and precision in one of the city’s busiest dining rooms is hard enough, doing it with a calm and convivial attitude is even more impressive. Savio Volpe sous chef Melanie Witt is well respected among her peers for her culinary prowess (she previously worked in kitchens at Wildebeest and Bufala) and is truly in her element preparing classic, Italian comfort fare at this rustic Fraserhood osteria. Melanie was also the focus of a recent documentary titled Women on the Line by filmmaker Vanessa Ratjen. The film explores the role of female mentorship in male-dominated commercial kitchens.

Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe

7
2150 Fir St, Vancouver, BC V6J 3B5

Not only is Jackie Kai-Ellis one of Vancouver’s most recognizable chefs – you’ve probably spotted her as a guest on CTV Morning Live and starring in Nordstrom’s ad campaign – but her Fairview bakeshop is likely the most Instagrammed café in the city. It’s hard not to fall in love with Beaucoup Bakery, a stunning patisserie filled with natural light and the intoxicating aroma of fresh baking. Daily offerings include artisanal croissants and pastries, cookies, tarts, scones, and savoury sandwiches. Jackie perfected her baking skills at Paris’ École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil, and her masterful training is evident in every bite.

Bistro Sakana

8
1123 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5P2

Female chefs are a rarity at traditional Japanese sushi restaurants, but trailblazer Etsuko Needham is more than happy to break with tradition. After working in the restaurant industry in Japan for two decades, Etsuko relocated to Vancouver to broaden her culinary expertise. She now serves as the executive chef and co-owner (along with her husband Peter) of Bistro Sakana, an elegant sushi and tapas bar nestled along Yaletown’s cobblestoned restaurant row. In keeping with her groundbreaking attitude, Etsuko isn’t afraid to experiment in the kitchen, and she often incorporates Italian and French influences into her modern fusion fare.

Vij's

9
3106 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2W2

Vikram Vij might have his name on the door at his world-famous Vancouver dining room, but it’s the ladies who run the show in the kitchen. Yes, those legendary lamb popsicles are a woman’s work, folks. Vikram has described his all-female kitchen staff, managed by his former wife and co-owner Meeru Dhalwala, as the “backbone of his kitchen” since they’re the true experts when it comes to preparing authentic Indian spices and recipes. Meeru oversees the tight-knit staff at Vij’s, and at sister restaurant Rangoli, and also finds time to organize the annual Joy of Feeding festival fundraiser for UBC Farm.

Torafuku

10
958 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2W1

Torafuku sous-chef Sandy Chen was first inspired to purse a culinary career after watching Iron Chef Japan. After graduating from Vancouver Community College and spending three years at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, she teamed up with executive chef Clement Chan on the popular Le Tigre food truck. The talented pair can now be found working together in the kitchen at Torafuku, creating an array of adventurous pan-Asian dishes for a cool-kid crowd. The playful menu features tongue-in-cheek names (Hooked on Crack, Wok It Out, Magic Mushrooms) and sharing items like General Tao’s chicken wings, tempura-crusted lamb, and oxtail steamed buns.

Tourism Vancouver’s annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary festival will see some of the city’s hottest restaurants serving an array of mouth-watering prix-fixe menus. If you want to take your significant other for a special meal, plan a date night at one of these romantic eateries. [Photo courtesy of Boulevard/Leila Kwok]
Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary event will see some of the city’s top restaurants serving mouth-watering prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner. If you’re looking for a kid-approved spot with a casual atmosphere and plenty of choices for picky eaters, book a table at these family-friendly restaurants. [Photo courtesy of Bufala]
Tourism Vancouver’s annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary event provides foodies with a great opportunity to eat at Vancouver’s most acclaimed restaurants for less. If you want an upscale meal in an elegant setting, these high-end spots deliver a great bang for your buck. [Photo courtesy of YEW Seafood + Bar]
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