Today, women are more than just part of the culinary landscape of Miami; they've become an integral part of the Magic City's growing industry. From executive chefs and owners to pastry chefs and sommeliers, more and more women are putting their creative stamp on Florida's culinary scene.
Moreover, as they continue to break ground, these established movers and shakers are paving the way — and raising the bar — for the young female talent coming up behind them in South Florida's fast-paced culinary world.
In celebration of Women's History Month, we offer this alphabetical list of ten women who are helping to propel the food game in Miami, and specifically women who continued to kick ass amid the COVID pandemic.
Allegra AngeloSommelier for Vinya Wines
266 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
Sommelier Allegra Angelo has seemingly lived nine lives — everywhere from the West Coast to the Northeast — before settling in Miami. Since 2019, her love of wine, food, and community is on display at Vinya Wines, where she works alongside founder Nicholas Garcia as in-house sommelier. Angelo has been honing her craft for 15 years, developing more than 20 unique wine-and-spirit programs across the nation and working with local staples, including Mignonette, Stiltsville Fish Bar, and Café La Trova. Angelo's work doesn’t end in the dining room — while serving as sommelier for La Mar and Mandarin Oriental, she worked wine harvests in Burgundy, Tuscany, and Spain. She has passed all levels of the Master Sommelier Exam and is preparing to retake the tasting portion this year — a top honor for any wine pro. During COVID, Angelo has been conducting Zoom wine tastings that accompany curated (and themed) wine selections.
Donnamarie BaptisteCultural Ambassador for Red Rooster Overtown
920 NW Second Ave., Miami
Cultural producer. Strategist. Curator. Artist manager. Event planner. Take your pick of professional hats, and Donnamarie Baptiste — who has held roles in programming, marketing, or producing for Art Basel, the Armory, Lexus, Bacardi, and Absolut — has worn it. But Baptiste is more than a list of clients and titles. She's a driving force in Miami's cultural world, presenting us with new ways to rediscover familiar places via both art and music. While Baptiste has worked with countless artists, organizations, and corporations across myriad disciplines, she's increasingly proud of her work at Red Rooster Overtown, where she serves as a cultural ambassador and liaison. The position took root more than a year ago, but the pandemic, which descended just as the restaurant began its soft opening, put the plans on hold. Though Baptiste had orchestrated a mesmerizing debut that would celebrate and share the history of Overtown, that work — along with the restaurant's menu and décor — is in no way diminished by the absence of an opening "event." The goal has always been to activate the entire space both day and night with programming that offers a strong global cultural perspective. Baptiste's mission is to ensure there will always be something new to see or hear, from the art that livens every wall to the late-night supper club on the restaurant's second floor, where live music will take center stage.
Valerie ChangChef/co-owner of Itamae
140 NE 39th St., Miami
Being a chef in Miami is hard. Being a chef in Miami during a pandemic is even harder. But Valerie Chang, chef/partner at Itamae in the Design District, manages to make it seem easy. Chang grew up in Peru and spent her childhood watching her father cook at a sushi restaurant. Following a few stints as a chef — including one at Michael Solomonov’s short-lived Miami restaurant, Dizengoff — she now helms her own kitchen alongside her brother Nando and their father, Fernando. Chang's work with Itamae's Nikkei-inspired menu of Japanese-Peruvian dishes hasn't gone unnoticed. Late last year, she became one of 25 women chosen to participate in the James Beard Foundation's 2020 Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (WEL). She was previously a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Once a tenant at MIA Market Miami (formerly St. Roch Market), the Changs have moved into their own space, despite the pandemic.
Sheryn Delgado-AbalosChef/owner of Plant Theory Creative Cuisine at the Lincoln Eatery
723 N Lincoln Ln. N., Miami Beach
Sheryn Delgado-Abalos gave up meat and animal products at just 13 years of age. At 15, she dreamed of opening her own vegan café. And by 21, she made it happen, becoming a plant-based pioneer long before it was trendy. The chef has called Miami Beach home for years, cultivating a following of vegan and health enthusiasts from all over South Florida. Inspired by nature and her love of culture and travel, Delgado-Abalos crafted recipes with a strong focus around her personal food philosophy, using unadulterated ingredients to create unique flavor profiles. After receiving training from the Future of Food Institute and the Food for Health Foundation, as well as a certificate from eCornell in plant-based nutrition, she forged ahead with plans to debut her concept at the Lincoln Eatery in late February 2021, pandemic be damned. Today, Plant Theory Creative Cuisine is an amalgamation of its creator's world travels and desire to provide healthy, organic, gluten-free food she says is not only good for people, but also for the planet.
Della HeimanFounder of Della Bowls and the Doral Yard
8455 NW 53rd St., Doral
Before falling in love with the food industry, Danielle "Della" Heiman did a little bit of everything; a self-described "type A" personality, she worked in political communications, textile manufacturing, and venture capital — and even spent a hot minute as a hot yoga teacher. It wasn't until she traveled the globe and received her MBA from Harvard Business School that she became inspired to create a globally-inspired, plant-based, fast-casual concept. What started out as recipe experiments and taste-testing with friends soon turned into a restaurant concept, and Della Bowls was born. In 2014, Heiman moved to Miami to launch her first restaurant, simultaneously founding the Wynwood Yard, Miami’s first culinary incubator-meets-culture hub. Along her restaurant-opening journey, the young entrepreneur was inspired by the many like-minded business movers and shakers she met, fueling her goal to create a platform that would showcase and fuel Miami’s innovative food, culture, and design concepts. In the midst of a pandemic, Heiman opened the Doral Yard, along with Della Bowls and published her Della Bowls at Home digital cookbook.
Karla HoyosChef de cuisine at the Bazaar by José Andrés
1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Karla Hoyos never thought she'd be living in Miami, never mind working as the first female chef de cuisine at the Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS South Beach. She first met Andrés while volunteering in Puerto Rico during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and again after Hurricane Dorian. The goodwill didn't stop there, however; this powerhouse of a woman has been on-site for multiple disaster-relief missions as one of the top lieutenants for Andrés' World Central Kitchen, which pops up in the wake of crises worldwide to ensure hungry people are fed. That's not Hoyos' proudest moment, though. Her greatest accomplishment was summoning the courage to step out of her comfort zone and leave her position as chef for Bon Appétit Management Company, which provides restaurant and catering services to corporations, colleges, and universities. It was a choice that changed her career — and also changed Miami. Hoyos will be the first to admit that stepping in to lead a kitchen of 40 people was challenging. She quickly proved women chefs can be inspiring leaders, and today her team is like family. Which brought her to one of her proudest moments yet: depspite a pandemic, being able to bestow a recent promotion upon a fellow female chef and employee of six years who inspires her daily, Bazaar's new chef de partie, Sandra Da Silva.
Jennifer & Michele KaminskiCo-founders of 2 Korean Girls
2801A Florida Ave., Coconut Grove
Jennifer and Michele Kaminski aren't just two Korean girls — although their new quick-service delivery restaurant would have you think so. In reality, they're two women who prove you can have a successful career and a side hustle. Sisters first, both women grew up working alongside their mother, Chom "Sunny" Kaminski, who owns and operates a Korean restaurant in Indiana. Michele would go on to work the industry as an event-marketing professional for some of Chicago's top restaurants; Jennifer has more than 17 years experience in marketing as founder and managing director of her own digital marketing agency, Social Thinkking. Recently, the pair took their mutual love of hospitality and their marketing savvy to their own brand — 2 Korean Girls. While other establishments struggled during the pandemic, the Kaminskis saw it as an opportunity to launch their takeout-and-delivery model that offers fresh takes on classic Korean cuisine.
Aniece MeinholdCo-owner, Phuc Yea
7100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
At Phuc Yea, Aniece Meinhold's official title is general manager, but you'll find her wearing many hats, including slinging drinks behind the bar and greeting guests. Meinhold's real job is making waves in Miami's culinary world. Even before she opened Phuc Yea in 2016 alongside chef Cesar Zapata, the seasoned restaurateur had done it all, from starting her career at age 14 in her home of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to working at the Four Seasons Brickell to running the show at the Federal. In 2011, she and Zapata sparked the city's "pop-up" revolution, debuting their groundbreaking Vietnamese-inspired menu to the masses. During COVID, Meinhold has done everything to keep her restaurant open — from personally delivering meals to helping fellow restaurateurs navigate ever-changing COVID mandates.
Sakhone SayarathChef/co-founder of Lil' Laos at the Citadel
8300 NE Second Ave., MIami
The mural at Lil' Laos isn't merely a work of art. The two monkeys on top represent the restaurant's cofounders and partners in life, Sakhone Sayarath and Curtis Rhodes. It's also a tribute to Sayarath's home country of Laos, the "land of a million elephants," from which her family fled to a refugee camp in Thailand when she was four months old. The family came to the U.S. when Sayarath was eight; later, while working as a hostess at a Tex-Mex chain in Arlington, Virginia, she enrolled in a community college to study advertising. She soon transferred to art school in Miami, where she met Rhodes. The two bonded over their eclectic palates, their love for food, and their shared love of adventure. In the past year, Lil' Laos has pioneered Laotian cuisine in Miami, beginning with several one-day pop-ups in 2020 serving up dishes packed with fresh herbs and loaded with spices. COVID created an opportunity for the concept to flourish, and Sayarath and Rhodes have gone from pop-up to permanent location at the Citadel in Little Haiti, where all the dishes are based on Sayarath’s original family recipes.
Dallas WynneChef/partner, Toothfairy
1569 Alton Rd., Miami Beach
No one would guess Dallas Wynne started on the savory side of the kitchen, making the move to the sweeter world of pastries only in the past five years. During that time, the chef has proven that hard work and determination can open doors — especially to ovens full of her famed Snickerdoodle cookies. In Miami, Wynne's love affair with all things dessert began at Michael’s Genuine and Harry’s Pizzeria, where she had the opportunity to work alongside local pastry luminary Hedy Goldsmith. From there, Wynne moved to Ariete in Coconut Grove, taking the helm as executive pastry chef. She made a name for herself at Stubborn Seed, where patrons drooled over creations like strawberry doughnuts with passionfruit sabayon. Now, she's doing the same for Toothfairy bakery, opening later this month as part of Groot Hospitality's Firestone Garage in Miami Beach.