The Julia Child Foundation is giving a major award to female chefs — for the first time ever

In “news we’re ecstatic to report,’ the Julia Child Foundation has announced that it will grant the next Julia Child Award to their first female chefs ever. The organization, founded in 1995, aims to provide grants for culinary research and scholarships for those hoping to work in the food industry, and this specific award is for chefs “who have made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats, and drinks,” according to the foundation’s website.

The New York Times reported yesterday, July 17th, that the award’s first female recipients will be chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, the duo behind the Border Grill in Los Angeles.

"It’s an obvious time to recognize women," Eric Spivey, the chairman of the foundation, told the Times. "Susan and Mary Sue have empowered women during their careers."

Milliken and Feniger have worked together for 35 years, according to the Julia Child Award’s website. The two met when Milliken was serving as the first female chef at Le Perroquet in Chicago, and they went on to found the Border Grill. Today, their restaurant has three locations throughout L.A. and one at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. In addition to being the first female recipients, Feniger and Milliken are the first team to win the award.

Milliken told the Los Angeles Times that she had always admired Julia Child, saying “I remember feeling like she was such a professional and somebody I would love to emulate.” She added that she was “blown away” that she and Feniger are the first female recipients.

"Maybe we’ve reached a time where people are actually being a little more cognizant of how embedded the whole boys club is in the culinary world and how it needs to get shaken up," she told the Times. 

Feniger and Milliken will be honored on November 1st during the Food History Gala at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. In addition to receiving an award with their names engraved on it, the honorees will be able to choose a food-related charity to which the foundation will donate $50,000.

We’re stoked to see female chefs getting the recognition they deserve. Hopefully this is a sign that the “boys club” of the culinary world is coming to an end. Congratulations to Milliken and Feniger!

Filed Under