The Women Who Inspire Food Network Staffers to Cook

We tip our toques to these inspiring women.

March 08, 2020

To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women's Day, staffers are sharing tributes to the women, past and present, who are our biggest inspirations in the kitchen.

An American Icon in France

As a kid, I remember taking frequent trips to the library with my mom to borrow VHS tapes of The French Chef, so we could spend afternoons watching Julia Child prepare a perfectly imperfect roast chicken or fillet of sole. Her unpretentious approach to cooking, and her bubbly personality made me excited to get into the kitchen and experiment for myself. I’m sure I have her to thank for inspiring me to conduct my own pretend cooking show at home and for my love of French food, and I bet there are countless stories like mine.

- Katherine Lok, Culinary Fellow, Editorial

Our Well-Seasoned Colleagues

Hands down, the amazing recipes developers and producers in our test kitchen have been some of my biggest cooking inspirations. Check out Larisa Alvarez, Sarah Holden (pictured) and Emily Weinberger’s Food Network Kitchen classes if you haven’t already. While working with them, I’ve picked up so many tips and tricks that I use on a regular basis — like adding seasoning to spinach after it wilts. They truly understand how to make home cooking a rewarding experience, which has helped me expand my range of weeknight dinners and weekend projects in recent months. These women are pros and I am so grateful I get to celebrate their work both professionally and personally in my home kitchen.

- T.K. Brady, Senior Editor

A Sweet Scion

I fell in love with baking in large part thanks to dessert goddess Sherry Yard, a legendary, award-winning pastry chef who’s judged numerous baking competitions on Food Network and competed in some (including Cutthroat Kitchen's Superstar Sabotage). I was lucky enough to eat her desserts at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants in Los Angeles, where I grew up, reveling in her sugar-tinged balance of classic and inspired. Sherry masterfully combines the freshest farmers’ market fruits in desserts that never stray from their impeccable pastry foundations. Even something as basic as her classic ganache is second to none. Each summer, as I gather sour cherries, blueberries or the season’s first perfect tri-star strawberries, I think “Now, what would Sherry bake?”

Chef Sherry Yard prepares her Round 1 dish, Classic Denver Omelet, as seen on Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen, Season 11.

Chef Sherry Yard prepares her Round 1 dish, Classic Denver Omelet, as seen on Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen, Season 11.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

- Erin Hartigan, Senior Managing Editor

An All-In Iranian All-Star

I recently had the pleasure of working with Iranian chef Nasim Alikhani on her Saffron Basmati Rice with Tahdig class for Food Network Kitchen. The crispy bottom on a pot of Iranian rice (the "tahdig") can be difficult to get right on the first try, but watching Nasim’s skill in the technique (which includes noticing the scent and even sound of the rice) as it cooks, I was so inspired by her commitment to her craft and the traditions of her culture. Plus, she opened her venerated Brooklyn restaurant Sofreh at age 59, after many decades of other jobs and experiences, proving it’s never too late to go all-in on your passion.

- Lauren Piro, Director, Editorial

A Chef Fusing Culture into Culinary

I love Leah Cohen’s food. She owns a spot in Manhattan called Pig & Khao, and it’s one of the few upscale-ish Asian restaurants that doesn’t have me walking out snickering, "My $5 meal from Chinatown is still better." Cohen grew up with a Filipino mother and a Romanian-Jewish father, and mentions that both backgrounds have had an influence over her culinary journey. At Pig & Khao especially, she cites her Filipino upbringing as having a major influence over the Southeast Asian cuisine she makes at the restaurant. What really inspires me about Leah’s food is that she’s put her own unique spin on traditional Southeast Asian dishes, while remaining true to their roots. It’s a bridging of Eastern and Western worlds and flavors, and she’s at the center of it. It’s halo-halo, but Leah’s take on the Filipino dessert. It’s slaw, but with Asian ingredients and the best, most-balanced version of it you’ve ever had. I really respect her for cooking Asian food with her own style, and doing it well.

Leah Cohen's Fried Fish Banh Mi, as seen on Food Network Kitchen

Leah Cohen's Fried Fish Banh Mi, as seen on Food Network Kitchen

Photo by: Felicia Perretti

Felicia Perretti

- Maggie Wong, Associate Editor

An Inspiring Author

While other women inspired me to get into the food industry, Samin Nosrat changed the way that I love food today. I read her James Beard Award-winning New York Times bestseller Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat when I was feeling uninspired, and she reinvigorated my love of balanced, wholesome cooking. She broke down the basics in a way I hadn’t seen before, and I think she’s helped change how a lot of people approach cooking!

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30: Samin Nosrat visits Build Studio on November 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/WireImage)

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30: Samin Nosrat visits Build Studio on November 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/WireImage)

Photo by: Santiago Felipe

Santiago Felipe

- Megan Larkin, Digital Culinary Production Fellow

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