6 Female Chefs Who Are Killing It in the Hudson Valley Food Scene Right Now
These leading ladies aren’t afraid to push boundaries to do what feels right and tastes great.
Nicole Craft leads the kitchen at Bartlett House. Photo by Meg Pearce
It’s tough to make it as a female chef nowadays. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 report, men outranked women as chefs and head cooks in a ratio of 78.4 percent to 21.6 percent. It’s a widespread disparity across the United States, and one that is only beginning to be addressed by boundary-pushing documentarians and a few industry icons. Even in the Hudson Valley, where female business leaders and entrepreneurs leave lasting marks on industries ranging from construction to marketing to law, the tipped scale phenomenon still applies.
Yet that’s not to say there are no talented women chefs in the region. On the contrary, the Valley’s female culinary leaders are so influential that they’ve inspired new food trends, led restaurant reinventions, and created dining spaces that define their respective regions. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8 and Women’s History Month throughout March, we’re shouting out a few of the Hudson Valley’s innovative female chefs – and why we love them so much.
When Nicole Craft entered the Hudson Valley food scene in February 2018, she did it quietly with her daughter, Willow, in hand. Her goal was to leave behind her work at New York City kitchens like Roberta’s Pizza and The Spotted Pig in order to take up the mantle at Ghent’s Bartlett House. In just over a year, Craft has used the restaurant’s menu as a pathway to develop relationships with local farmers and help Bartlett House expand its presence in the Hudson Valley with The Maker Hotel, its new café and hotel endeavor in Hudson. Inhouse, Craft continues to push her limits with thematic dinners that showcase a culinary range that extends from breads and pastries to authentic French and Italian fare.
💥We know we told you that we would be back in action today, January 16th, but we should probably all know by now that construction always takes longer than one would think! We are now closing for the rest of the month to push the process along, but fear not- we have tricks up our sleeve. Stay tuned for more details.... In the meantime, please enjoy this pic of us, in the doorway of our old kitchen on our first night of service ever! So much has changed as we continue to grow and learn. Thank you for your patience, and riding this wave with us. We opened with no debts, just a little money we could pull together, and have somehow made it work in our small space for nearly 3 years. This is the first time we are taking on loans, which is a big deal, but we are excited to create a space that is build for longevity! Cause we have a lot more work to do, mouths to feed, and memories to create 💞💞😘🥰 see you soon, and watch our stories as our dreams are really coming true!
When it comes to describing Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo, the word “chef” just doesn’t seem to cut it. After all, the ladies who brought to life Hudson’s Lil’ Deb’s Oasis aren’t just kitchen geniuses; they’re artists. They’re innovators who transform blank platters into tropical paradises, who craft experiences just as much as they concoct new dishes, and who create a restaurant concept so strong that it pulls foodies upstate and out of their New York City shells.
Most recently, the women brought their upstate reputation to a national level when they earned the Hudson Valley its only spot on the James Beard semifinalist list in 2019. While Lil’ Deb’s is currently closed for renovations, we can’t wait to see what the daring duo will unveil when the space reopens later this spring.
Yuoko Yamamoto is determined to bring authentic ramen to the Hudson Valley. With Gomen Ramen, a streamlined version of her now-closed eatery, Gomen Kudasai, set to open later in 2019, Yamamoto is on the fast-track to achieving her most memorable year yet.
By keeping the focus on traditional cooking processes and authentic ingredients, Yamamoto’s ramen shop already has the makings of a staple eatery in Kingston and the Hudson Valley at large.
Agnes Devereaux is an icon in the Hudson Valley. Since opening the New Paltz restaurant in 2004, the Irish-born chef has sown lasting roots for herself in the region. Her expertise is vast, and ranges from breathtaking pastries and wedding cakes to homey pot pies and charcuterie platters. A true local favorite, Devereaux keeps it fresh with an ever-changing menu and a strong presence in the region’s food community.
When Jennifer Abelton and Mark Palmieri opened The Helm in Greenwood Lake back in 2015, they brought a farm-to-table dining experience to a relatively untouched corner of Orange County. Fast-forward two years, and The Helm earned a coveted Best of Hudson Valley Award for Best Restaurant in Orange County. Now solidly ensconced in the region’s food community, The Helm, with Abelton in the kitchen, delights visiting diners with curated temptations like house IPA cheese fondue, 12-hour coffee-rubbed brisket, and, on Sundays, a Wake Up Poutine with maple-fried eggs and the restaurant’s special sauce.