To celebrate diversity and talent in the BOH, the Choco team is introducing 6 profiles of LGBTIQ+ chefs with their inspiring stories and careers in the restaurant industry.
Kristen Kish is a Korean-American chef and winner of Top Chef Seattle (Season 10). Former chef de cuisine at Barbara Lynch’s Menton in Boston, she currently works in her own restaurant Arlo Grey in Austin, Texas. She is also the co-author of the recipe book Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques (2017) and co-hosts the TV show 36 Hours.
When we think of the many gay chefs who have positively impacted the food industry, it’s difficult not to mention and remember Yotam Ottolenghi. Israeli-English chef Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi is the co-owner of six delis and restaurants in London, as well as a food writer and the author of bestselling cookbooks Ottolenghi (2008), Jerusalem (2012), and SIMPLE (2018). In 2013 Ottolenghi was featured in The Guardian with his essay why I’m coming out as a gay father, telling the story of conceiving his first son Max via gestational surrogacy and about the hard road of being a gay parent.
Chef Alex Koones is the creator, producer, and soul of Babetown in NYC, a moving pop-up dinner party concept for queer women, trans and non-binary people. People have reached out from all over the world to tell her that they wished they had such events in their cities! In 2020, she also launched her delivery service of delicious snacks, Babe Delivery, available in The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.
Photo via @babenotbaby
Chef Deborah VanTrece started her catering company in the late ’90s to bring innovative and beautiful preparations and presentations of peasant and soul food. The inspiration for her cooking style comes from homemade ladies’ recipes and from the Southern American feeling of hospitality that she fell in love with while living in Atlanta for over 30 years. Together with this, her experience in having visited and cooked in different places influences her cuisine too. In 2015, she expanded her culinary concepts and opened Twisted Soul Kitchen and Bar in Atlanta.
Susan Feniger is an American chef, radio, and TV personality, as well as the author of several cookbooks. She is also known for starring in the cooking show Too Hot Tamales. Throughout her career, she opened several influential businesses in Los Angeles, including her modern Mexican restaurant Border Grill. From 2009 to 2013, chef Feniger opened her first solo project called Street, a multi-ethnic eatery of “street food” in Hollywood. In 2013 Chef Feniger was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Restaurant Association. She has also served on the board of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
DeVonn Francis is a NYC-based performance artist-turned-chef and the founding director of Yardy World. Queer and first-generation Jamaican-American, DeVonn Francis created his platform to explore and celebrate Caribbean culture through food and art. With his background combining design and activism, Chef Francis focuses on sourcing ingredients from marginalized farmers and creates menu and food experiences concepts for events and through his consultancy activity. In 2020 he started his delivery service in Brooklyn.