9 Women Chefs Dominating the Minneapolis Food Scene

Minneapolis restaurants are brimming with talent, from James Beard finalists to other nationally acclaimed chefs.

Jamie Malone of The Grand Cafe, Photo by Isabel Subtil

Our chefs aren’t just cooks; they’re designers, creators and artists. Our food scene has been defined by some of the incredible women chefs that have set the precedent for quality, taste and experience when it comes to dining in Minneapolis. Read up on these top female chefs and make your reservations pronto.

Kim Bartmann

Bryant Lake Bowl, The Bird, Barbette, Pat’s Tap, and more

Two-time James Beard award semifinalist, owner of nine highly successful restaurants and a true innovator in the Minneapolis dining scene, Kim Bartmann operates Barbette, Bread & Pickle, Bryant Lake Bowl, Gigi’s Café, Pat’s Tap, Red Stag Supperclub, The Bird, Tiny Diner and the newest addition, Book Club. Bartmann started in the restaurant business shortly after college when she opened her own coffee shop after working numerous restaurant jobs to pay for her education. It all snowballed from there. She’s also highly focused on keeping her restaurants “green” and eco-friendly through limiting energy use and waste and enhancing air and food quality.

Diane Yang

Pastry chef, Spoon and Stable, Bellecour

Diane Yang works as the pastry chef at Spoon and Stable, the trendy, talk-of-the-town restaurant located in the Warehouse District, and Bellecour in Wayzata. Yang attended school at Le Cordon Bleu where she specialized in her passion for cooking and became an expert at pastries and cakes. She then interned under James Beard award-winning Chef Tim McKee at the four-star restaurant La Belle Vie and eventually went on to help create dessert menus for top restaurants in Minneapolis such as 112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa. Her experience working with many highly talented chefs led her to create her own style of baking, simple with a purposeful balance of flavors that keeps people coming back for more.

Ann Kim

Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza

Owner of Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza, Ann Kim has taken the Minneapolis pizza scene by storm. With the success of Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza, Kim decided to open a third space with more of a Korean influence, Young Joni. With her chewy, airy style of crust and toppings like her classic fennel sausage, sweet potatoes, preserved lemon, truffle, beef short ribs and nori, she re-imagines the art of pizza making. A testament to her success, Ann recently was named a finalist by James Beard Foundation for 2018 Best Chef Midwest! 

Photo by The Restaurant Project

Brenda Langton

Spoonriver

Committed to sustainability and healthy eats for more than three decades, award-winning chef and restauranteur Brenda Langton opened Spoonriver in June 2006 and it’s been a staple restaurant for health-conscious diners ever since. Langton works directly with local farmers and growers to get the highest quality produce. She also founded the Mill City Farmers Market in an effort to bring Minneapolis residents closer to their local producers. The quality of her food can be tasted in her health-focused, flavor-packed dishes. 

Jamie Malone

Grand Café

With hand-painted wallpaper from Paris, vintage décor and delectable French-inspired cuisine, the popular Grand Café, led by Chef Jamie Malone, is on every foodie's list as one of the top spots in the Twin Cities. Malone focuses on presentation and ambiance as much as taste and quality, making dining a true experience. Malone’s inspiration for ethnic cuisine comes from her travels throughout Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Europe. The diverse flavors and techniques can be seen on the menu and tasted in each dish. 

Photo by Isabel Subtil

Christina Nguyen

Hai Hai, Hola Arepa

Christina Nguyen always had an entrepreneurial interest, starting her own business when she was still in high school. She grew up cooking and always had a passion for good food, so she wanted to combine her knack for business with her creativity in the kitchen. Nguyen wanted to offer something that no one else was offering. That’s when the Hola Arepa food truck was born. It didn’t take long for people to start talking, and soon she had lines of people waiting for her Latin-style sandwiches. The success of the food truck led Nguyen to open a brick and mortar. She also recently opened a brand new restaurant, Hai Hai, that focuses on Vietnamese street food, which is where her background lies. 

Carrie McCabe-Johnston

NightingaleTilt Pinball BarMortimer's

Owner of Nightingale and Tilt, and Executive Chef of Mortimer’s, Carrie McCabe-Johnston brings some of the best late night food to the Minneapolis restaurant scene. She aims to make Nightingale a restaurant that works for both the casual burger/beer as well as the dressier date night outing. She blends a laid back vibe with upscale taste, and it doesn’t hurt that the entire menu at Nightingale is available until 2 a.m. She brings the same approach to Tilt Pinball Bar, serving hot dogs with unique toppings like kimchi, melted gruyere and black olive mayo. Her and her husband also took over Mortimer’s, which they aim to keep a local neighborhood joint with their own added flare.  

Erica Strait

Foxy Falafel

A graduate of both the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as well as culinary school in New York, Erica Strait has always aimed to combine her passion for health and cooking. After working in New York for a while and eventually making her way to Minneapolis to work under Chef Brenda Langton at Spoonriver, she decided it was time to start a place of her own. Living in New York, falafel was a regular part of her diet. After moving to Minneapolis, she realized that the type of falafel she wanted just wasn’t available. So she decided to create it herself. She started selling her falafel made from fresh, wholesome ingredients at local farmers markets, and they were a hit. She took the next step and started a food truck, and eventually added a small restaurant, as well.

Michelle Gayer

Salty Tart

Michelle Gayer is one of the most talented, highly acclaimed pastry chefs in the Twin Cities, and is also known nationally for her skills in the kitchen. She’s received two James Beard “Outstanding Pastry Chef” nominations as well as a “Best Chef Midwest” nomination. She’s been recognized at national food festivals, by Bon Appetit magazine, the Food Network and more. Gayer loves to use seasonal produce to flavor her creations, with a combination of both savory and sweet flavor profiles that make each pastry a true delicacy.