15 Aussie Female Chefs to Have on Your Radar

The world of professional chefs still has some ways to go in terms of gender diversity. But that’s slowly changing, and every year, more and more female chefs are being recognised for their brilliance in the kitchen, particularly in Australia.

To help continue that recognition, we’re shining the spotlight on 15 female chefs on our shores to have on your radar. From the chefs we see frequently on our TVs like Poh Ling Yeow, Anna Polyviou and Kylie Kwong, to others you may not know, but are doing incredible things, keep scrolling.

Danielle Alvarez

Danielle Alvarez was born in Miami, Florida and grew up cooking alongside her mother and grandmother. She moved to Sydney in 2014 when she was asked to head the kitchen at Merivale Group-owned Paddington restaurant Fred’s. In 2023, she became the culinary director of event venues at Sydney Opera House, where she is still working today.

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Alanna Sapwell-Stone

Alanna Sapwell-Stone trained at The River House in Noosa before working at venues in Italy and Japan. When she returned to Australia, she worked at several restaurants, including Josh Niland’s two-hatted Saint Peter in Sydney’s Paddington. She’s been the head chef at historic Northern Rivers pub Eltham Hote since 2023.

Maggie Beer

Despite Sydney-born Maggie Beer not having any formal training in a kitchen, she’s worked as a chef, author, restauranteur, food manufacturer and TV personality, appearing on The Cook and The Chef, MasterChef Australia and The Great Australian Bake Off. Today, she owns Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, an hour’s drive north of Adelaide in the Barossa Valley.

Kurstin Berriman

Based in Hobart, Tasmania, Kurstin Berriman has over 20 years of experience as a chef, with her placements including Rick Stein London, Piermont Retreat in Swansea and Prospect House in Richmond, where she still works today. Berriman’s cooking style is refined, with a focus on showcasing Tasmania’s seasonal, regional produce.

Kylie Kwong

Kylie Kwong is a Chinese-Australian chef. She undertook much of her apprenticeship at Niel Perry’s Rockpool and now-closed Wokpool. In 2000, she opened restaurant Billy Kwong, alongside the late Bill Granger who later left the partnership. The restaurant shut in 2019, and in 2021, Kwong opened Lucky Kwong. That venue will sadly close June 2024.

Ahana Dutt

Ahana Dutt was born in Kolkata, India and attended culinary school in Mumbai. She moved to Sydney in 2015 to help open Firedoor in Surry Hills. After working there for six and a half years (long given the transient nature of the industry), she was appointed head chef of Indian restaurant Raja in Potts Point. Sadly, Raja shut after just nine months, but no doubt Dutt will be popping up elsewhere soon.

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Anna Polyviou

Melbourne-born Anna Polyviou is a pastry chef, cookbook author and TV personality. She first began making waves in the industry with her role as creative director of pastry at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney. Polyviou has since appeared on MasterChef Australia and Dessert Masters and is currently creative director of pastry at The Langham Sydney.

Melissa Palinkas

Perth-based chef Melissa Palinkas is committed to sustainable ingredient sourcing and zero-waste when cooking. She aims to use every part of vegetable and meat and to avoid one-time-use plastic. She’s the chef and owner of East Fremantle venues Young George Bar and Kitchen and Ethos Deli and Dining Room.

Dorothy Lee

Dorothy Lee was born in Hong Kong but moved to Sydney and decided to pursue a career as a chef around a decade ago. In 2018, she and her partner Jarrod Walsh took over Newtown restaurant Hartsyard from its founders. In 2022, the two closed the restaurant and, the following year, opened Longshore in Chippendale.

Federica Andrisani

Naples-born Federica Andrisani is a chef and co-owner of neighbourhood eatery Fico and pasta and wine bar Pitzi in Hobart. Andrisani honed her craft at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Vicenza, near Venice where she met Hobart-born Oskar Rossi. The two eventually left the Italian restaurant and, in 2016, opened Fico. The restaurant is widely considered to be one of the best in Hobart.

Poh Ling Yeow

Born in Malaysia, Poh Ling Yeow immigrated to Australia with her family when she was nine years. After studying and working in design and art, she became a TV cooking personality, appearing on the first season of MasterChef Australia in 2009. She’s since published several cookbooks, appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and been a judge on MasterChef Australia.

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Kirsten Tibballs

Kirsten Tibbals is a pastry and chocolatier who has represented Australia at world championships for dessert-making and as a judge for global competitions. In 2022, she founded Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School with hands-on classes in Brunswick, Melbourne and online classes. Tibballs also hosted SBS Food series The Chocolate Queen.

Depinder Chhibber

Depinder Chhibber was a contestant on MasterChef India season seven and MasterChef Australia’s season 13, placing eighth. Born in New Delhi, India, Chhibber is inspired by Indian and Southeast Asian flavours in her cooking and specialises in desserts. Today, Sydney-based Chhibber shares recipes with her 130k-and-growing Instagram followers.

Yasmin Newman

Yasmin Newman is an Australian-Filipina cookbook author, TV presenter and culinary director. She’s lived in Paris, LA and parts of Mexico and the Philippines. These days, she’s based on Australia’s Central Coast and is the head of culinary at global meal kit company Marley Spoon. In 2023, she hosted SBS show A Taste of the Philippines.

Mindy Woods

Mindy Woods is a proud Bundjalung woman of the Widjabul Wia-bul clan who placed fourth on MasterChef Australia season four. In 2021, Woods opened restaurant Karkalla in Byron Bay, which celebrated Australian native foods. In April 2024, Woods announced on Instagram the restaurant would be shutting. We’re sure we’ll be seeing her elsewhere soon.

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