Navigating the testosterone-fueled world of professional kitchens is a difficult task for anybody, but these LGBTQ+ chefs have found success in their truth and in the incredible food they're making.
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"It was a little difficult to navigate at first because I wasn't sure if I would be fully accepted. Moreover, I feel like I wasn't taken seriously for being a small Asian female," says award-winning head chef of Animae and proud LGBTQ Filipina Tara Monsod.
"There was an instance when of my colleagues stated that they felt being gay was a choice. I spoke up and said that it was not a choice, why would I choose to have a more difficult life. From there, I felt more comfortable speaking my truth and having conversations without any judgment."
As we celebrate Pride month and the accomplishments of those in the LGBTQ+ community, here are 15 LGBTQ+ chefs making waves in the restaurant industry and achieving success — not despite, but because of — celebrating who they are.
7.Silvana Salcido Esparza
Nick DeSimone turned their decade of experience working in professional kitchens of all types into a writing career, spending the last two years writing about plant-based cooking, interesting recipes, and their trans journey for publications like Eater, USA Today, AllRecipes, and Mashed.
11.Supanut "Ann" Khanarak
Transgender Thai chef Supanut "Ann" Khanarak started her career specializing in Western food before finding herself reverting back to the cuisine of her homeland, studying Thai cooking in Sydney for eight years and moving back to Bangkok to head kitchens at the Metropolitan Hotel and the Four Seasons. She recently started consulting for the Front Room restaurant of the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok to rave reviews, serving simple, elegant Thai flavors with upscale ingredients like Gaeng massaman si-krong nuea, a massaman curry made with Australian Wagyu and sweet potato; Phla lai bua or lotus stem, pomelo and homemade chilli paste; Maphrao cheesecake, cheesecake with young coconut jelly and white chocolate mousse.
Along with consulting for the Front Room, Khanarak also co-runs pad thai joint Pad Thai Wanchart and plans on opening her own restaurant and cooking school in the near future.