In honor of International Women's Day on March 8th, we're featuring three chefs who have had a big impact on our food team.

By Kelly Vaughan
March 03, 2020

Looking for ways to become a more confident cook at home? Our food editors are here to help. Each week, we're shining a spotlight on the exciting things happening in the Martha Stewart test kitchen. Our editors will share their best cooking tips, favorite products, new ideas, and more in our weekly series, Out of the Kitchen.

International Women's Day is right around the corner and while we think every day is an occasion to celebrate creative, trailblazing women, this day is extra meaningful. In honor of International Women's Day, which falls on March 8th, we asked our food editors to share the women in the food industry who have inspired their careers and their passion in the kitchen. Some are famous, others less so, but all have a few very important things in common: they're patient teachers, graceful leaders, and, of course, phenomenal chefs.

Like many cooks, deputy food editor Greg Lofts watched Julia Child growing up and considers her a role model. "She had a commanding presence and a teacher's cadence and I absorbed everything she said like a sponge," he explained. It's clear how much of an inspiration Julia Child was for Greg, who now hosts instructional cooking videos for Martha Stewart Living. His calm presence and detailed explanations about each recipe are signs of a caring teacher and knowledgeable cook, just like Julia. Even our founder was inspired by Julia Child—Martha Stewart recently filmed a series with PBS called Dishing with Julia Child. As part of the show, Martha revisits old episodes of The French Chef alongside other well-known food personalities as they discuss how Julia inspired them.

Related: Catch Up on What Happened in the Test Kitchen Last Week

Assistant food editor Riley Wofford thinks of her idol Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef and owner of New York City's Prune restaurant, whenever she needs a little reminder of why she entered this industry in the first place. Riley started her career in catering and didn't love what she calls the "day to day drudgery" of preparing the same dishes over and over again. "Reading her book Blood, Bones, & Butter gave me a much-needed reminder of why I fell in love with cooking in the first place. She taught me that cooking is basically a love language that can be spoken and understood by everyone," says Riley.

Her re-appreciation for cooking—both professional and personally—was thanks to Hamilton. "She serves as a reminder to me that the best way to access the love of cooking that made me want to go into this industry in the first place, is to go back to basics and just cook really simple, delicious food," Riley adds.

Related Link: Julia Child Really Did Teach Us the Way to Cook

Senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell got her first culinary job from chef Cindy Zerah of Watercress, a small café in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles. Lauryn was a recent college graduate hoping to gain professional culinary experience—"[Chef Cindy Zereh] told me to come in for an interview and since I had absolutely nothing to put on my resumé, I baked her a tray of focaccia instead. She smiled and asked me if I knew how to make pancakes, and when I said yes, she hired me on the spot. That exchange totally changed my life and the trajectory of my career," says Lauryn.

From the culinary skills that she gained at Watercress—knife skills, cleaning tips, and organizational strategies—to the personal life lessons, Lauryn's career has been forever shaped by Zereh. "She did everything with a confidence and grace that I've tried to emulate in my own life. She also engrained in me that it's much better to do something very simple very well than to do something complicated poorly."

Here's to these remarkable teachers and chefs on International Women's Day.

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