Editor's note: Updated 18.2.21
Just a handful of female chefs around the world have ever claimed three Michelin stars from the prestigious restaurant guide since the system began almost a century ago.
The first three Michelin stars to ever be awarded went to female French chef Eugénie Brazier in 1933, closely followed closely by Marie Bourgeois in 1933 and Marguerite Bise in 1951. The first trio of French female chefs to make culinary history operating in the uppermost echelons of gastronomy.
Other three-star female chefs have since followed, with the three Michelin star accolade remaining the pinnacle of many professional chefs careers. However, even today just five female chefs can be pinpointed in a list of over 130 three Michelin starred restaurants around the world.
By the end of 2019, and nearly a century after three Michelin stars were first awarded, three Michelin starred female chefs make up less than 4% of the three Michelin starred restaurant population, and therefore something a rarity, still.
In 2021 two more female chefs joined the three Michelin starred ranking, taking the total of female chefs with three Michelin stars up to seven.
We highlight each of the three Michelin star female chefs in the world today:
Dominique Crenn - USA
Dominique Crenn, the most recent female chef to date to obtain three Michelin stars and also the first woman in the United States to receive the prestigious rating by the world-famous Michelin guidebook for her Atelier Crenn restaurant in San Francisco in 2018.
Elena Arzak - Spain
Chef Elena Arzak (Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain) and her father, Juan-Mari have been at the forefront of the Basque avant-garde cooking movement for decades with their family Restaurant Arzak, first awarded three Michelin stars in 1989. In 2012 Elena was awarded the World’s Best Restaurants Female Chef of the Year.
Annie Feolde - Italy
The French-born chef holds the title of the longest ranking three Michelin starred female chef, having held three stars since 1992 at Enoteca Pinchiorri restaurant in Florence which she has run with her sommelier husband Giorgio Pinchiorri since the early 1970s. Féolde was also the first female chef in Italy to win three Michelin stars and the fourth woman ever to win three stars.
Anne Sophie Pic - France
Anne-Sophie Pic is one of only four French female chefs to ever earn three Michelin stars with the restaurant Maison Pic in Valence, France, first run by her father, until his passing when she took up the reins and hasn't looked back since. She was named Best Female Chef in 2011 by The World’s Fifty Best Restaurants.
Nadia Santini - Italy
Italian chef Nadia Santini has held 3 Michelin stars at her family-run restaurant Dal Pescatore in Canneto sull'Oglio, Italy since 1996, making her the first female Italian chef to accomplish such an honour. Santini was also named the world’s best female chef by The World’s Fifty Best Restaurants in 2013.
Clare Smyth - UK
Clare Smyth, who originally held three stars as head chef at Gordon Ramsay's Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in 2007 at just 29 years old, opened her own restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth in London in 2017. Core earned two Michelin stars on its first review and three in the 2021 Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland.
Hélène Darroze - UK
French chef, Hélène Darroze was awarded a third star for Hélène Darroze at The Connaught in London in the Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland 2021.
Also worth noting is that Catalan chef Carme Ruscalleda from Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar obtained a third star in 2006, for the restaurant which shuttered recently.