LGBTQ chefs are prominently represented in the industry. Many have become operators of their own restaurants and chains. Some have become television stars. Almost all of them have published best-selling cookbooks. A few are founders of restaurant chains that are household names and are located around the world.
They represent many different styles and nationalities of cooking.
A central figure in the gourmet food and restaurant industries was gay American chef James Beard. He was the author of numerous culinary books and an original star of cooking television shows. He created the James Beard Foundation which annually gives out the U.S. gourmet restaurant industry's top awards for culinary achievement, the James Beard Awards. Receiving this award is similar to what receiving an Oscar award is to an actor.
It is notable that there is an equal split between men and women in the industry, in contrast to the industry as a whole which is male dominated. What is lacking to date is a star transgender chef. Most of the LGBTQ chefs are active within the community and respond to the need to give back and support its advancement and rights. The Human Rights Council (HRC) in the United States has an annual Chefs For Equality dinner to benefit the fight for full LGBTQ equality. The annual CookOUT festival in California is intended to celebrate the community's participation in the industry.
In addition to James Beard, there are numerous LGBTQ chefs around the world with outstanding reputations for their restaurants, cuisine, cooking books, and television shows. They hail from New Zealand, India, Israel, Turkey, Great Britain, the United States, Canada and France.
Despite their success in the cooking world, there remains considerable homophobia in the culinary industry. As noted in The State of Queer Chefs in America (see Further Reading below), many prominent LGBTQ chefs refuse to publicly identify themselves as such for fear of the negative impact on their restaurant clientele. As well, the author notes the continuing macho heterosexual atmosphere of many restaurant kitchens and staff.
Nevertheless, LGBTQ chefs, and especially those that are out and proud, inspire all of us to be creative in the kitchen, eat well, and enjoy life to the fullest.
Consider the following LGBTQ chefs:
- Jordan Bruno, Television chef and Mr. Gay World 2018.
- Kylie Kwong, television chef, cookbook author, and former restaurant owner (Billy Kwong).
- Ken Kostick, Television chef.
- Meredith Laurence, QVC Television chef and creator of the 'Technique' line of cooking products.
- Antoni Porowski, Host of television show 'Queer Eye', and former private Chef.
- Eric Lanlard, Celebrity baking chef and television host.
- Laurence Isaacson, Co-founder of the restaurant chain Groupe Chez Garard with 24 restaurants in the U.K. Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
- Edd Kimber, Winner of the inaugural season of The Great British Bake Off.
- Allegra McEvedy, Television host, author, and restaurateur, she is a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
- Jonathan Phang, Television food show host, cookbook author.
- Ruby Tandoh, Finalist of the Great British Bake Off (2013).
- John Whaite, Winner, Great British Bake Off (2012). Columnist, author, cookery school owner.
- Ritu Dalmia, Owner of restaurant chain Diva, author of several cookbooks, and host of celebrity television cooking shows.
- Yotam Ottolenghi, Founder of the Ottolenghi chain of delis in the U.K., and chef-owner of restaurant Nopi. LGBTQ activist.
- Ross Burden, Celebrity chef, author.
- Peter Gordon, Television chef and owner of several restaurants.
- David Halls, Television chef on show 'Hudson and Halls' with partner Peter Hudson
- Peter Hudson, Television chef on show 'Hudson and Halls' with partner David Halls.
- Yigit Pura, Inaugural winner of the television show 'Top Chef: Just Desserts'.
- Ted Allen, Emmy award winner. Host of television show 'Chopped'.
- Mitchell Anderson, Actor. Restaurant owner and Chef.
- Jesse Brune, Celebrity chef and personal trainer.
- Anne Burrell, Host of several television cooking shows.
- David Burtka, Former television and film actor, now co-owner of Gourmet M.D. in Los Angeles. Married to actor Neil Patrick Harris.
- Ashley Christensen, founder/owner of AC Restaurants, including Poole's Restaurant. Cookbook author.
- Cat Cora, Former host of television show 'Iron Chef America', she has been inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
- Pink Delongpre, Owner of the restaurant Bacon & Brine in California.
- Angela Dimayuga, Mission Chinese Food, New York city.
- Tiffani Faison, Runner-up in the inaugural season of television show 'Top Chef'.
- Elizabeth Falkner, Consultant and judge of several television cooking shows. Member, Culinary Hall of Fame.
- Susan Feniger, Co-host of the television show 'Too Hot Tamales'.
- Clark Frasier, James Beard Award-winning restaurateur.
- Mark Gaier, James Beard Award-winning restaurateur..
- Gabrielle Hamilton, Owner and Chef, Prune Restaurant, New York City.
- Anna Hieronimus, Co-owner, Take Root restaurant, Brooklyn, New York.
- Lou Hogan, Contributor to Gourmet magazine, and author of 'The Gay Cookbook' (1965).
- Kristen Kish, winner of Season 10 Top Chef, and owner of Arlo Grey restaurant in Austin, Texas.
- Elise Kornack, Co-owner, Take Root restaurant, Brooklyn, New York.
- Anita Lo, Chef-owner of New York City restaurant Annisa.
- Ashley Merriman, Chef at Prune Restaurant, New York City.
- Preeti Mistry, Executive Chef, Navi Restaurant, and cookbook author
- Niki Nakayama, Owner of n/Naka Restaurant and the only female kaseiki chef in the world.
- Art Smith, James Beard Award winning cookbook author, and former chef to Oprah Winfrey.
- Rita Sodi, Native of Florence, Italy, she is the chef-owner of 'I Sodi' restaurant in New York City.
- Jeremiah Tower, famed creator of California Cuisine at his restaurant Stars in San Francisco.
- Jody Williams, Chef-owner of Restaurant Buvette in New York City and Paris, she is also a judge on the television show 'Chopped'.