Celebrate Female Culinary Professionals

March 2016

March is Women’s History Month—the perfect time to explore and commemorate women in the seemingly male-dominated world of food. From pastry chefs to scientists, women have held many important roles in the development of culinary arts.

Learn more about a few key female figures in the food and beverage industry:

  • Marthe Distel: In 1895, she started a magazine to help teach women culinary skills they could use in their homes. Until this point, the professional culinary world did not include women. Distel also started offering cooking lessons to her female readers. These cooking lessons eventually transformed into what is now know as Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts—the world’s largest hospitality education institution, with more than 50 schools in 20 countries.
  • Fanny Farmer: She graduated from Boston Cooking School in 1889 and became the school’s principal in 1891. Just a few years later, in 1896, she published The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which introduced standardized cooking measurements. In 1904, she published Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent, which provided nutritional information and recommendations for children and people with specific health concerns.
  • Ruth Wakefield: Although the history of the chocolate chip cookie is up for debate, Ruth Wakefield is credited with creating the first recipe and selling it to Nestle and Tollhouse in 1939. Rumor has it that Wakefield ran out of nuts or baker’s chocolate and substituted chocolate chips as an ingredient—but since she had a reputation for perfectionism, many speculate that it was a carefully planned recipe.
  • Julia Child: At age 36, Child enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts. She published Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a cookbook that ignited many Americans’ love affair with French food. The book sold more than 100,000 copies and continues to be printed today. She went on to host many popular cooking shows and received France’s highest order of merit, the Legion d’hounneur, in 2000.

Who is your favorite female in the culinary world? Share on Butterball’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


A 120-year history in teaching the French culinary arts, Le Cordon Bleu.

Fannie Farmer opens cooking school, History.

Michaud, John. Sweet morsels: A history of the chocolate-chip cookie, The New Yorker. December 19, 2013.

Julia Child: America’s 1st top chef, Legacy.com.

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