10 Women Chefs Dominating the Minneapolis Food Scene

Minneapolis restaurants are brimming with female 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.

Diane Moua

Spoon and Stable, Demi

Diane Moua works as the pastry chef at Spoon and Stable, the trendy, talk-of-the-town restaurant located in the Warehouse District, and the upscale fine dining experience, Demi. 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. Moua has been nominated for multiple James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Pastry Chef Awards.

Steph Hedrick

The Lynhall

Steph Hedrick is the current Executive Chef at The Lynhall. She previously worked at the Woman's Club of Minneapolis and has over 25 years of experience within the Minneapolis food service industry. Her relationships with local farmers in the area give her dishes fresh ingredients and flavor.

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 was named a semifinalist by James Beard Foundation for the 2018 & 2019 Best Chef: Midwest Award. 

Jamie Malone

Grand Café, Eastside Eat + Drink

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 and was a 2018 semifinalist for the James Beard Award's Best Restaurant. 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. Malone also recently took over Eastside Eat + Drink preparing to overhaul the East Town restaurant with family-style dishes and world-class cocktails with a vibe all its own. She was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's 2018 & 2019 Best Chef: Midwest Award and is nominated again for the 2020 award.

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 opened the popular Northeast restaurant, Hai Hai, that focuses on Vietnamese street food, which is where her background lies. Nguyen was selected as a semifinalist for the 2020 James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Midwest Award, which she was also nominated for in 2018 & 2019.

Carrie McCabe-Johnston

Nightingale, Tilt Pinball Bar, Mortimer's

Chef/owner of Nightingale, co-owner of Tilt Pinball Bar, Mortimer’s and Dusty'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 1 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. She and her husband also took over Mortimer's & Dusty's, which they aim to keep as local neighborhood joints 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, 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.

Katie Elsing

The Lynhall

Katie Elsing is the pastry chef at The Lynhall. She trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Mendota Heights, and it's there that she discovered the passion for baking. Before The Lynhall, you would have caught Elsing as a chef or general manager of popular Minneapolis hangouts like the Icehouse and the Dakota. But ever since coming over to The Lynhall she finds creating masterful and delicious pastries is what makes her most happy.

Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer

Chef Shack Ranch

Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer are long-time staples in the Minneapolis food scene. Not only did they brought the city their famous Indian spiced donuts and BBQ flavors, but they've had a significant influence on shaping the Minneapolis cooking community. Notably, they helped pioneer the local Food Truck scene and elevated the art of BBQ smoking techniques, while simultaneously championing women chefs in the region. They sit on the advisory committees of the James Beard Foundation Women's Executive Leadership and the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs organization. They also appeared on the Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay" and Carlson even went head-to-head against the celebrity chef. After all their success the two chefs are now focusing on private events for their Chef Shack Ranch Minneapolis location, serving up tasty street food dishes, catering style.

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