Professional cooking is largely a male preserve, but some talented women have managed to carve out a place for themselves in the macho world of French gastronomy. Make no mistake, the kitchen revolution is under way.
She had dreamed of being an artist, but abandoned her studies to take up the more down-to-earth art of cuisine. After stints at the Verre Volé and the 104, Delphine Zampetti, life partner of chef Inaki Aizpitarte of the Chateaubriand, has now opened a sandwich shop. With sophisticated fillings such as gravlax style Banka trout, home-made terrines and pickles (she's mad about them). The place, a converted horse-meat butcher's shop, is as remarkable as the cook.
85 rue de la Roquette, 11e - Tél. 01 43 71 90 75
Cheesecake is a major fad in Paris these days, and no-one makes it better than Séphora Saada. This fairy-fingered expert makes cheesecakes to die for: pecan and caramel, rose and raspberry … m'mmm. And if savoury flavours are your thing, some of these "she’s cakes" will astonish you.
20 avenue Ledru Rollin, 12e - Tél. 01 53 46 93 16
Who on earth thought of bringing food trucks to Paris? Kristin Frederick! Though she hails from California, Kristin earned her stripes at the Ecole Ferrandi and the Apicius. In her Camion Qui Fume she serves hamburgers the way she knew them as a child. And if you'd rather eat in warmth and comfort, she's now opened the New York style Freddie’s Deli, serving giant sandwiches (but no hamburgers).
22 rue Crespin du Gast, 11e Tél. 01 84 16 33 75
Globe-trotting baker Nina Métayer discovered the pastry cook's art in Melbourne, and in May this year she was appointed pastry chef at the luxurious Hôtel Raphael. Her speciality is creative desserts that delicately wed sweet and sour flavours, the lightness of fruit and a certain feminine touch. Try her chocolate, honey and verbena block or her redcurrant coffee cake!
17 avenue Kléber, 16e - Tél. 01 53 64 32 11
Stéphanie Le Quellec
Thirty-something Stéphanie Le Quellec is a winner. After a stint as sous-chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant she was made chef de cuisine at the Prince de Galles hotel. Quick as a wink she put her southern-style imprint on the menu and won the hearts of the most exacting gourmets with her meticulously-prepared dishes. She's 16th woman in France to win a Michelin star.
Hôtel Prince de Galles - La Scène
33 avenue George V, 8e - Tél. 01 53 23 77 77
Her dad runs a restaurant in Mexico, but she came to France to train at the Institut Paul Bocuse, and worked at the Grande Cascade before opening her own place. The Neva Cuisine serves bistronomic fare with an upscale twist: mouth-melting foie gras, melon steeped in sangria. Now she's opened a second place, called Coretta, in Batignolles.
* Neva, Cuisine 2 rue Berne, 8e Tél. 01 45 22 18 91
* Coretta, 151 bis rue Cardinet, 17e Tél. 01 42 26 55 55
Normandy produces some wonderful chefs as well as excellent cider. Virginie Basselot at the Saint James Paris is one. She won her first Michelin star two years after her arrival at this elite hotel. A fitting reward for the 32-year-old Deauville native, who has some serious experience behind her: she was at the Bristol, excelling as Eric Frechon's premier sous-chef, when the Bristol got its third Michelin star.
43 avenue Bugeaud, 16e - Tél. 01 44 05 81 81
Hélène Darroze could claim to be THE "top chefesse". To start with she's the only woman to have won two stars in the UK. Next, as well as being chef at the Connaught in London, this former disciple of Alain Ducasse has opened a restaurant in Paris serving delicious tapas and dishes from her native Landes department. Because what inspires her, coming as she does from a restaurant-owning family in Southwest France, are the ingredients and emotions of that region.
4 rue d’Assas, 6e - Tél. 01 42 22 00 11
Leaving from: Japan. Stopping at: London, where she went to catering school. Terminus: Paris, where she's made a place for herself. Kaori Endo first set up an improvised eatery at La Générale, a Parisian artists' squat. This gave her confidence in her culinary talents and started the ball rolling: the Rose Bakery, temple of foodie eco-chic, and now Nanashi, a French-Japanese eatery specialising in organic bentos and veggie dishes.
* Nanashi, 57 rue Charlot, 3e Tél. 01 44 61 45 49
* Rose Bakery, 31 rue Paradis, 10e Tél. 01 40 22 05 55
* Chez Bonpoint, 6 rue de Tournon, 6e Tél. 01 43 26 14 06
L'Auberge Flora, an "urban inn" on the Right Bank, is a convivial place where you can regale yourself on fusion food before a good night's sleep in one of the 21 themed guestrooms. Flora Mikula, raised in Avignon and a student of chef Christian Etienne, knocked around the world a bit before coming back to France and working for Alain Passard at l’Arpège. And it's in Paris that she wanted to open her own place – with flavours from near and far.
44 boulevard Richard Lenoir, 11e - Tél. 01 47 00 52 77
There is a certain feminine something about the precision required for cakes, desserts and pastries. Claire Heitzler grasped that early on. Aged 19, she won a Best Apprentice in Alsace award before working for Georges Blanc and Michel Troisgros and then setting off for Japan on a mission for Alain Ducasse. Then came the Park Hyatt hotel in Dubai, the Ritz in Paris, then Alain Ducasse again and finally the Lasserre. Where she makes fruity, low-fat French pastries with international notes: sudachi for that Japanese touch, cashew nuts for a South Asian slant and dried fruit for a hint of Alsace. Her signature dessert is a passion fruit, Piedmont hazelnut and chocolate dome.
17 avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 8e - Tél. 01 43 59 02 13
By Alix Lerebours