Michael Bauer released his five picks for the Chronicle's Rising Stars in yesterday's paper, and for the fourth year running, there are no women in the mix. (See also the picks from 2010, 2011, and 2012.) He claims that there simply haven't been enough suitable female candidates (in the last four years!), but there are several worthy women we can think of who've been passed over, and there's at least one misunderstanding regarding one candidate Bauer lists a bunch of female chefs in the Bay Area on the blog this morning, and he includes Sarah Rich among the pastry chefs, despite the fact that she and husband Evan Rich both conceive the savory dishes on the Rich Table menu together.
Bauer was a big fan of Rich Table right upon opening, so it's surprising that the Riches didn't make the cut. Also, we've felt he's missed the boat on Haven in Oakland, and chef Kim Alter does not even get mentioned in his blog laundry list despite getting noticed by Food & Wine this year. Also passed over by Bauer in recent years was Dominique Crenn, who may not be eligible now that she's been an executive chef in the Bay Area for five years, but she has two Michelin stars at Atelier Crenn and has not ever been a Chronicle Rising Star.
Only two women have received nods for this honor in the last six years, and they were Melissa Chou (pastry chef at Aziza) in 2009, and Lisa Eyherabide, formerly of Gitane, also in 2009. Is this truly because no female rising stars have existed in half a decade? Fewer women tend to stay in the business long enough to rise in the ranks, that is true. Chef Cindy Pawlcyn, in a profile published Sunday, blames the demands of children and the fact that few women end up heading their own restaurants, opting for work in hotels or elsewhere with less demanding schedules. But there's some subjectivity at work here, too, and it's disappointing the Chron's food staff couldn't find any females whom Bauer might have missed.
And, without further ado, the Rising Stars of 2013 are: Kyle Itani, of Oakland's Hopscotch; Devin McDavid, pastry chef at Quince and Cotogna; Robin Song, of Hog & Rocks; Mark Pensa, chef de cuisine at Acquerello; and Brandon Rodgers, chef de cuisine at Benu. Congratulations, all.