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San Diego’s Female Chefs Celebrate Their Kitchen Leadership

Chef Isabel Cruz (left), Tracy Borkum (center) and chef Kelli Crosson (right)...

Above: Chef Isabel Cruz (left), Tracy Borkum (center) and chef Kelli Crosson (right) in undated photos.

San Diego's Female Chefs Celebrate Their Kitchen Leadership


Kelli Crosson, chef de cuisine, A.R. Valentien

Isabel Cruz, chef/owner, The Coffee Cup and Isabel’s Cantina

Tracy Borkum, founder, Urban Kitchen Group


Women have been cooking and preparing meals for millennia, but female chefs are still a significant minority in U.S. restaurants.

The latest Department of Labor data, from 2012, shows that just over 20 percent of chefs are women.

Kelli Crosson, chef de cuisine at A. R. Valentien, said her diners often assume the chef preparing their meals is a man.

"There are many times that my servers come back to the kitchen and say, 'Oh they said please thank the chef for the wonderful meal he made for me,'" she said. "That happens more often than not."

But gender diversity in the country's kitchens is improving. Crosson is one of eight female chefs participating in Festa Della Donna on Sunday, a celebration of International Women's Day at CUCINA enoteca Del Mar.

Isabel's Cantina chef and owner Isabel Cruz, another participant, remembers being one of as few as two women at some industry events several years ago. Now she says there are so many female chefs and beverage makers in San Diego, they're able to put together the annual Festa Della Donna themselves.

CUCINA enoteca owner Tracy Borkum, Crosson and Cruz join KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday to share their experiences leading San Diego kitchens.

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