To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we’re shining a spotlight on some of Australia’s leading women in the culinary and wine industries. This year’s theme #ChooseToChallenge fits the bill for these inspirational women including Australian culinary icons, Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer who continue to inspire female leaders of the future. Read more about their accomplishments below:
Her influence on the Australian food industry has been profound extending from her restaurants, journalism, television, books and more recently, the establishment of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, a cause that she champions to this day.
Her career began with her restaurants, earning her a Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of services to the hospitality and the tourist industry and the encouragement of her apprentices. Her protégés include some of the most significant names in Australian cooking inspiring culinary leaders of the future.
She was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to education for her non-for-profit organisation, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting schools with food education.
Click here to find out more about Stephanie Alexander.
As one of Australia’s most well known food personalities, Maggie Beer’s career spans farming, food production, television presenting and judging, food writing and her line of gourmet products, challenging and inspiring many young Australians to enjoy quality, seasonal cooking every day.Her many accolades include 2010 Senior Australian of the Year, 2011 South Australian of the Year and Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to tourism and hospitality.
The establishment of the Maggie Beer Foundation in 2014 bought a spotlight to the nutritional welfare of those in aged care facilities. The foundation aims to provide the pleasure of a good food life for all, regardless of age or health restrictions.
“Maggie’s hope for every Australian to have a good food life leads her to work on many levels, with the hope of encouraging everyone (young, old and in between!) to enjoy quality, seasonal cooking every day.”
Click here to find out more about Maggie Beer.
Palisa Anderson is a portion of a much larger whole that is her family business. Their first business Chat Thai was established in 1989, since then they have expanded the operations to 9 eateries, a grocery store, a travel agency and a farm. Spending her childhood in and around restaurants gave her an appreciation for hospitality, a lifelong curiosity of food and ingredients and an easy rapport with people from all different walks of life.
Being one of the directors of the business her role is varied from overseeing staff management to being hands on with R’n’D for menu planning to selecting varieties of heirloom South East Asian herbs, fruits and vegetables to grow on Boon Luck Farm she and her husband own and manage. She is passionate about her role in creating affordably nutritious and enjoyable food and loves meeting challenges that a small family business faces.
Click here to find out more on Palisa Anderson.
Forging her way through the male dominated wine industry, Curly Haslam-Coates has cemented her place as a well-respected wine expert. With the specialist skills and knowledge in post-production, Curly Haslam-Coates has established herself as Tasmania’s leading wine and spirit educator; offering courses for professional wine makers and enthusiasts alike.
And it’s not just her love of wine and sparkling that keeps Curly dedicated. The opportunity to help organise and promote the weekly Harvest Launceston market back in 2015, brought her other love to the fore.
Click here to find out more about Curly Haslam-Coates.
As a freelance food and travel writer, Melissa Leong has been well involved and entwined in the Australian food industry. Her impressive career spans across journalism, food media consultant, radio, television presenter, MC and cookbook editor and is now a household name as a judge on Channel 10’s Masterchef Australia.
Melissa Leong is praised for bringing representation and diversity to the forefront as the first female and Asian Australian judge bringing in a new era to mainstream reality TV as a woman of colour in one of Australia’s most high-profile TV gigs. With no fear, she isn’t afraid to try anything at least once and there is nothing she won’t do in the name of a great food experience.
Click here to find out more about Melissa Leong.
Vanya Cullen owns one of Western Australia’s premium boutique wineries in the Margaret River region, Cullen Wines. She has been winemaking at her family’s Wilyabrup estate since 1983. Most notably, Vanya is leading the charge in sustainably produced wines and has evolved the wine industry, making quality wine from a certified Biodynamic, Carbon Negative and naturally powered estate.
In 2019 Vanya was named the Australian Women in Wine Winemaker of the Year, received the ACO Chairman’s Award for her contribution towards organics in Australia, and in Halliday’s Wine Companion she was awarded for the best wine in the Cabernet and Family category with the 2017 Diana Madeline, as well as being named Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year; Australia’s most prestigious wine award.
Click here to read more about Vanya Cullen