The Women Who Inspire Food Network Staffers to Cook
We tip our toques to these inspiring women.
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. Chances are you’ve seen many of them on the Food Network Kitchen app! Check out Larisa Alvarez, Sarah Holden (pictured) and Emily Weinberger’s 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?”
- 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 — try her style at home with her Fried Fish Banh Mi class, on the Food Network Kitchen app.
- 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!
- Megan Larkin, Digital Culinary Production Fellow