"I'd had all these women in my kitchen and I didn't want to be the only one they could look up to. They needed more than me as a mentor."

On April 19th, Mindr and Nibble+squeak came together at sought-after Lower East Side restaurant Dirt Candy for an in-depth interview with chef and owner Amanda Cohen and an indulgent three-course meal of vegetable-forward deliciousness. We talked about the challenges facing female chefs in the kitchen and the media, Amanda's work to build diverse teams and create mentorship opportunities for women in the industry, and her leadership of the vegetable-forward movement. Big thanks to Amanda and the Dirt Candy team, our partners at Nibble+squeak and everyone who took part in this magical evening.



After being named the hardest restaurant to get into in New York City four years in a row, Dirt Candy and its leader Amanda Cohen know a thing or two about successful woman-led businesses. Here are some of the top tips Amanda shared with us:

  • Start small! Dirt Candy began as a tiny 18-seater restaurant that represented to Amanda a calculated and manageable risk. "I wasn’t sure anybody was going to come – and so that’s why I opened an 18-seat restaurant. Because I knew I could run that by myself, I could have no staff and I could run it every night, and it would be fine… my original vision was really just to survive."

  • Find mentors (and be mentors): "At one point in Dirt Candy, I was looking around for mentors and I couldn’t really find anybody. I didn’t know who was out there. I wasn’t reading about women chefs in magazines and newspapers and I was barely even seeing them on TV apart from home cooks on the Food Network." If we can't see them, we can't be them, and Amanda has worked hard to increase the visibility of female chefs within the industry and in the press.

  • Vote with your dollars: How can we support more women chefs? By dining with them. "Go to women-led restaurants," says Amanda. "Support them. For every male-led restaurant you go to, go to a female-led restaurant. Learn the chef’s name in the kitchen. Send your friends there."


Part of the problem of not being represented in the media is that media leads to more coverage, which leads to more guests in your dining room, it also leads to more awards, which leads to more guests in your dining room, and more high-end financial backing. Because investors look at you and say oh, here’s a chef who gets all these awards and coverage, of course I’m going to put my money in there… and without the dollars behind us, we’re never going to get to that next level.
— Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy




5 things you didn't know about female chefs, by #MINDRMAMA Sarah Gibbs.