Black female chefs make up a cohort of some of the most talented culinary geniuses you can find in the United States. Fortunately, if you’ve been on the hunt for a new chef to follow or a unique cuisine to test out, you’ve come to the right place for inspiration.
The ladies you’ll meet here offer unique culinary stylings and techniques. So, to learn more about these culinary artists, keep reading.
A Nashvillian by birth, Carla Hall broke into the culinary world in 2008 when she competed on Top Chef during the show’s fifth season. She did so well that she was invited back during Top Chef: All Stars a few seasons later.
Hall has a varied career background, ranging from accountant to runway model to chef. She’s currently a television star, chef, and motivational speaker. She’s known for her classic soul food cooking, fun personality, and “cooking with love” philosophy. Currently, her primary occupations include being the host of The View and her Say Yes! Podcast.
If you’re interested in learning about Hall’s cooking techniques, you can check out some of her best recipes on her website. She also authored three cookbooks:
- Cooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You
- Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration
- Carla’s Comfort Food: Favorite Dishes from Around the World
Sam Davis-Allonce is a Jamaican American chef and entrepreneur. She started out working as a clinical cancer researcher but shifted her career toward culinary pursuits in 2014. Now, her focus is strictly on creating delicious Caribbean-inspired dishes for her clients.
Davis-Allonce is the owner of Savor by Sam, a New York City-based catering business. In addition to owning her own catering company, she also has a small-batch hot sauce line called Hot and Spicy. Before she founded her company, she served as the Chef de Cuisine at the Henry at Life Hotel.
Not only is Davis-Allonce a successful small-business owner, but she’s made a name for herself on-screen, too. She’s appeared multiple times on Food Network shows and The Daily Show as a special guest.
Chaya Fletcher is an African American chef and entrepreneur from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A third-generation educator in Oklahoma City Public Schools, Fletcher teaches culinary arts to high school students. Her deep love of her hometown, black culture, and education have infused every aspect of her career as a chef, making her unique in her field.
Fletcher opened her first restaurant, Urban Roots, in 2010. However, she had to close its doors in 2015 when the building was sold. Her second restaurant, Kindred Spirits, is in Northeast Oklahoma City, where Fletcher grew up.
The focus of the atmosphere in Kindred Spirits is on community, culture, and comfort food. Fletcher has made her restaurant a place people come from all over to eat, helping to contribute to the revitalization she wants to see in her hometown.
A Texas native, Tiffany Derry is a celebrity chef and entrepreneur from Dallas. She grew up with a deep appreciation for farm-to-table eating, and she carried the love of those roots into her cooking. Her first job in hospitality came when she was 15, where she started as a server at IHOP then moved up to management.
Derry’s culinary education took her all over the world. When she returned, she competed in the 7th season of Top Chef, where she placed fifth. She became owner and chef at Private|Social in Dallas one year later. Her love of fresh, seasonal ingredients continues to find its way into all of her recipes.
Currently, Derry is the owner of T2D concepts, a hospitality group she co-owns with business partner Tom Foley. T2D runs both of Derry’s restaurants, Roots Chicken Shak and Roots Southern Table, as well as her ‘Shef Tiffany spice line.
Derry has made multiple TV appearances, including:
- Top Chef: All-Stars
- Hungry Investors
- Bar Rescue
- Chopped Junior
- Bobby’s Dinner Battle
Many know Kelis as the Grammy-nominated singer of “Milkshake,” the catchy 2003 hit that took the world by storm. It might surprise some to learn she’s also a classically trained and successful chef and entrepreneur.
A 2010 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Kelis kicked off her culinary career with a line of gourmet sauces called Bounty & Full. Shortly after, in 2014, Kelis was signed on to host Saucy and Sweet on The Food Network.
The same year she landed her spot on TV, Kelis opened a food truck at the South By Southwest music festival. Her style focuses on various food styles that feature ingredients inspired by her Puerto Rican and African American heritage. She currently offers cooking classes on her website that you can test out for free.
Like many other chefs on this list, Tirzah Love left behind a career in the corporate world to pursue culinary dreams. Today, Love is an entrepreneur, educator, and private chef who works according to the philosophy, “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.”
Love’s success stemmed from a popular culinary blog that morphed into a full catering service. She skillfully wields social media to engage and educate her followers on healthy and organic GMO-free cuisine.
One of Love’s main goals is to help her consumers learn about the importance of ingredients and understand what they’re eating. She achieves that goal through her adult cooking classes and cooking parties designed specifically for children.
Love owns Tirzah Catering, where she offers catering services for small parties, dinner parties, and date nights. If you’re interested in learning from Love, you can find class information and other content on her website.
A Trinidad local, or “Trini,” Chef Avanelle James has worked in the hospitality industry for nearly two decades. After graduating from the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality Institute, she continued her education at Johnson & Wales in Pastry and Baking Arts. Immediately after graduation, James became the pastry supervisor at Trinidad’s Hilton.
A highly skilled pastry chef, James has earned several awards for her skill in the kitchen. She came in 2nd at the Trinidad and Tobago Iron Chef competition in 2003, effectively solidifying her place in the hospitality industry. In addition, she placed third in the 2009 Taster of the Caribbean Culinary Competition.
James is currently the CEO of The Sugar Boutique, a pastry shop located in Trinidad and Tobago.
Chef Jennifer Hill Booker is a Georgia-born chef, instructor, and author. She has an incredibly diverse cooking style that she’s dubbed “modern southern healthy cuisine with a French accent.” One of the essential features of her French-inspired southern cuisine is the care she takes choosing fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Booker has written two cookbooks that outline her cooking style, techniques, and some of her best recipes. The first, Field Lead to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes With a French Accent, includes southern recipes with a French twist. Dinner Déjà Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow provides ingredient lists you can use to make a southern meal one night and a classic French dish the next.
Today, Booker is an executive chef for the Georgia Department of Agriculture and a Culinary Explorer for Georgia’s Department of Travel and Tourism.
Petrina Peart is a Jamaican-born chef, educator, and Veteran who emigrated to the US as a child. As she grew, she developed a deep appreciation for food, natural ingredients, and the importance of cooking with a purpose. In her 8 years with the Air Force, she had the opportunity to examine cuisines of other countries and incorporate those influences into her own culinary inventions.
Formally educated at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Peart expanded on her personal knowledge and applied it to building her skills as a culinary professional. After training with chefs in France, Italy, Jamaica, and the US, she designed a unique and eclectic cooking style.
In 2017, Peart chose to focus on crafting recipes for specialty diets, including vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-free options. She’s since founded Gaiya’s Harvest, which offers in-home cooking lessons and private party catering from a vegan menu.
Chef Kardea Brown is a Black American chef and caterer from Charleston, South Carolina. She initially worked as a social worker in South Carolina before deciding she wanted to shift her career to the culinary industry.
Brown is deeply connected to her Gullah ancestry, which is where she draws much of her cooking inspiration. She saw local success with her New Gullah Supper Club, a traveling supper club that offers locally-sourced Gullah-inspired dishes.
Despite being turned down the first time she auditioned for a Food Network show, Brown is best known for being the host of The Food Network’s Delicious Miss Brown. Her show is filmed on Edisto Island, a barrier island off the coast of Charleston. Her third-great-grandmother was the last person to own the slave-built Hutchinson House on the island. Brown has been working to restore the house for historical purposes.
Airis Johnson is an American chef, instructor, and restaurateur. She was a marketing major in college and aimed to work for a Fortune 500 company after graduation. However, her priorities and desires shifted when she started cooking for her roommates in college. Although she finished her marketing degree, she chose to attend culinary school at the Art Institute of New York after she graduated.
Johnson is a multi-faceted chef who’s dabbled in all genres of cuisine. Not only did she win The Food Network’s Chopped, but she honed her skills working for culinary greats, including Bobby Flay, Sue Torres, and Gordon Ramsay. She prides herself on keeping abreast of each new culinary trend, which helps further her success as a businesswoman.
Currently, Johnson is a private chef, caterer, blogger, and instructor at the Johannesburg Culinary and Pastry School. She’s also made it a goal to educate and mentor students and adults interested in the culinary field to help them find success.
Chef Nyesha Arrinton is a California native who started cooking as a small child with her Korean grandmother. The unique Korean cuisine her grandmother taught her laid the foundation for Arrinton’s eventual career as a culinary artist.
Drawing on the local culture surrounding her both at home and in her native Los Angeles, Arrinton has developed a unique culinary style. She coined her creative process “Food that Hugs the Soul,” which shines through with her use of locally-sourced ingredients, family influences, and comforting flavors.
Arrinton has been featured in several publications praising her skill as a chef and restaurateur. Currently, she works in Los Angeles as a private chef and offers online cooking classes.
Mashama Bailey is a classically-trained American chef and restaurateur. Born in the Bronx, she moved around a bit as a child before settling in Queens. Her early professional years consisted of social work, during which time she worked at a homeless shelter. Her experience there led to her desire to pursue a culinary career.
After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), Bailey took a break to travel the world and broaden her culinary skills in France. The skills she gained while traveling melded well with those she’d gained cooking with her mother and grandmother.
Bailey spent more than a decade at various restaurants throughout New York City before building her own brand. She opened The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, where she offers Southern-inspired seasonal recipes that feature locally-sourced ingredients. You can find many of her recipes in her cookbook, Black, White, and The Grey.
Best Black Female Chefs, Final Thoughts
Black female chefs offer some of the most diverse and delicious cuisines in the US and abroad. The women listed here are just a hint of the talents you can find once you start looking. If you’re local to the businesses of any of these chefs, you should pop in for a visit to see just how great they are.