Features & Stories

Newsletter: Women's History Month – celebrating culinary trailblazers!

ckbk logo

 Celebrating remarkable women in food

International Women’s Day (IWD), marked around the globe annually on March 8, is an opportunity for the women’s rights movement to highlight year-round issues of inequality and injustice affecting women. It is also a day to celebrate women’s exceptional achievements even in the face of these issues. At ckbk we know that there are countless women in food, cooking, writing, teaching, making the world a better and more delicious place. But in honor of both IWD and Women’s History Month, we bring a special handful of them to your attention, showing the great influence they’ve had on food throughout the ages.

Nisha Katona

Nisha Katona, restaurateur, author, and presenter, gave up a twenty-year career as a barrister to open her first Mowgli Street Food restaurant. It has grown to become one of the UK’s most popular restaurant chains. Katona has also written five cookbooks and appeared on countless television and radio shows. She is currently on the judging panel of prestigious BBC television show, The Great British Menu.
Her food and recipes are universally popular, and share her love for the spice-led food of her Indian family kitchen. In 30 Minute Mowgli Katona demonstrates her determination to make great tasting food accessible to the time-poor, such as the moreish Quick Angry Tandoori. While Meat Free Mowgli brings those same great flavors to plant-based cooking. Try Gunpowder Florets or Paneer, Cashew & Mango Curry, to discover why none of us can resist Katona’s culinary style. 
Pictured above: Masala Omelette Wrap from Mowgli Street Food by Nisha Katona

Chantal Coady

What Chantal Coady doesn’t know about chocolate isn’t worth knowing. From youthful beginnings on the chocolate counter at a famous department store, Coady has pioneered the creation, understanding and celebration of fine chocolate and cacao from the opening of her first Rococo store on London’s Kings Road well over three decades ago, up until the present day. She was the first person to be awarded an OBE for ‘services to chocolate making.’
Her exceptional collaboration with Mott Green, founder of The Grenada Chocolate Company, was hugely instrumental in paving the way for subsequent growing-country chocolate makers, and she continues to be very involved with their work. She currently works as The Chocolate Detective selling her trademark chocolate birds eggs. Her books are a rich resource of chocolate knowledge, and full of super-tempting recipes. For pure indulgence try Plain Chocolate Truffles, or be more experimental with Hare and Chocolate Sauce.

Anne Willan

A prolific cookbook author, culinary historian and famed educator, Anne Willan is the recipient of multiple James Beard cookbook awards, and in 2013 was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Hall of Fame for her ‘body of work.’ Founder of the celebrated French cookery school La Varenne, she has also been awarded the rank of Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor for services to French gastronomy.
Her books are a remarkable documenting of history, techniques and recipes from France and Europe. French Regional Cooking is organised by region, allowing for a deep dive into the details and differences in the food of a country on which she is undoubtedly an authority. Willan is the perfect guide to a classic Cassoulet de Toulouse, or that rich chestnut dessert, the Mont Blanc.

Marcella Hazan

James Beard award-winning food writer Marcella Hazan is rightly considered by many to be the doyenne of Italian cuisine. Born is Italy in 1924, Hazan moved to New York City after her marriage. There she began to cook for the first time, wanting to recreate the food she had grown up with.
Quickly established as an authority on Italian cooking, she taught classes, initially from her apartment. Her first book, published in 1973, The Classic Italian Cookbook, remains one of the truly great sources of knowledge and recipes for Italian cuisine..
Try Sautéed Cauliflower with Green Olives and Tomato, or this quick Lobster Pasta Sauce Busara-Style.

A passionate advocate for seasonal, local ingredients, and cooking without the use of machines, Hazan’s books rightly remain in the kitchens of all chefs and cooks devoted to Italian food.

Irene Kuo

Food writer and restaurateur Irene Kuo was vastly influential in bringing Chinese cuisine to popular attention across the United States and beyond. Born in Shanghai, Kuo moved to the US permanently in in 1949 at the age of 22. Kuo and her husband Chi-Chih Kuo opened two restaurants in New York in the 1960s, Lichee Tree and Gingko Tree, which were enormously popular.
Through the restaurants, and catering star-studded events, Kuo became a celebrated public face of Chinese cookery. Her 1977 award winning book The Key to Chinese Cooking, reached those who had not been able to attend her restaurants, classes, or famous Chinese New Year celebrations. It remains an important book, not just for its place in popularising Chinese cuisine outside of China, but for its great techniques and recipes. Try this sharp, crunchy Duck Salad, or this great combination of Beef and Asparagus.

Nell B Nichols

Born in eastern Kansas at the end of the 1800s, Nell Beaubien Nichols was a prolific food writer for the American home cook, until her death in 1984. After growing up on a farm, and learning to cook on a wood stove, she went on to gain both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, before carrying out ground-breaking research into the nutritional value of soy beans.
She wrote for a variety of publications, including Farm Journal, with which she became closely associated thanks to her Farm Journal cookbooks. Her recipes were reliable, and much loved, and many of her books are still in circulation. First published in 1959, Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook is a vast resource of recipes from across the United States. Try Baked Beans Michigan, or a Peanut Butter Chiffon Pie from Georgia.

Florence White

Founder of the English Folk Cookery Association in 1928 and writer of the classic Good Things in England, Florence White was an important champion and chronicler of English Food. Her book documents dishes and traditions from the end of the 1300s to its publication in 1932, and includes over 600 recipes gleaned from extensive research. 
Many of the recipes are from contributors eager to play their part in keeping English Cookery alive, such as this recipe for Water Biscuits given by Lady Congreve, of Crofton House, Titchfield. The dedication and personality of both White and her contributors is evident throughout, and is testament to her determination to: ‘attempt to capture the charm of England’s cookery before it is completely crushed out of existence.’ We owe White a lot for her advocacy and preservation of hundreds of regional recipes. Celebrate her work with Northamptonshire Pudding or this 1852 recipe for Cornish Potato Cake.

Agnes Marshall

Agnes Marshall, food writer and educator, inventor and entrepreneur, had an exceptional career, even by contemporary standards. Born in Walthamstow in 1855, by 1883 she had opened the renowned Marshall’s School of Cookery in Mortimer Street, London. From 1886 she published and wrote for magazine The Table, on subjects from the poor quality of food served on trains, support for improvement in kitchen workers conditions, to a recipe of the week.
But it is for her London ice cream shop, the two of her books dedicated to the art of frozen desserts (Fancy Ices and Book of Ices), and her many ice cream making innovations, that she is best known. Dubbed ‘Queen of Ices’, it is Agnes to whom chefs owe a debt of gratitude for their ‘modern’ liquid nitrogen technique.

Try Parisian Walnut Cream, or the fruity Saint-Julien Sorbet to get a taste of her brilliance.

Agnes Marshall’s inventive recipes continue to have influence and feature in the books of present day female food writers.

Try Annie Gray’s version of her Cucumber Cream Ice and Regula Ysewijn’s take on her impressive Princess Surprise Bombe

Celebrate all the inspiring women on ckbk with 25% off membership
Enjoy 25% off ckbk Premium Membership for International Women's Day
Forwarded this by a friend? Sign up to receive the ckbk newsletter.