World’s First Top Woman Chef Named as France’s Ann-Sophie Pic

Chef Ann-Sophie Pic
Chef Ann-Sophie Pic. She is the only female French chef to hold three Michelin stars. Photographer: Melissa Burdick Harmon/Bloomberg News

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards today named Ann-Sophie Pic, of Maison Pic in Valence, France, as the Best Female Chef for 2011, beating Nadia Santini of Dal Pescatore, Italy, and Elena Arzak of Arzak, in Spain.

Pic, 41, made headlines in 2007 when she became the fourth woman in history to hold three Michelin stars, for the restaurant that she took over from her father and grandfather. She studied in the U.S. and Japan before heading the kitchen.

The Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef is a new award this year, the organizers said in an e-mailed statement. It was voted for by the 837 voters of the Electrolux World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, of which I am a member.

When the new female chef award category was announced earlier this year, some women writers denounced it on Twitter as patronizing.

Juan Mari Arzak, 68, also of Arzak, wins the “Lifetime Achievement” accolade, which will be presented at the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards at the Guildhall in London on April 18. The winner of the World’s Best Restaurant title will be announced that night, with last year’s winner Noma, of Copenhagen, a favorite to take the top prize.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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