Somehow, it comes as no surprise that women are underrepresented in leadership roles in the culinary world. Like many fields, the restaurant industry has been historically male-dominated. Even today, only 33% of restaurant businesses in the United States are majority-owned by women. But the women who do make it on their own as chefs, restaurateurs, and culinary managers are some of the best in their fields. Each restaurant featured below is run, proudly, by an individual who identifies as a woman. These 17 women are absolutely killing the game in St. Louis' food scene, breaking down the patriarchy one taco at a time. 

Balkan Treat Box (Loryn Nalic)

Audrey Stocker

Loryn Nalic, chef and co-owner of Balkan Treat Box, opened her food truck after falling in love with the cuisine of her husband's native Bosnia. The truck boasts a wood-fired oven that cooks food fresh to order, and a menu full of Bosnian favorites that are approachable even for first-time eaters. The somun bread (essentially Bosnian pita bread) is the tasty base for many of the dishes, including the crowd favorite pide— which is then stuffed with ajvar (red pepper spread), kajmak (cream cheese-esque spread), herbs, cabbage, fefferoni, and meat and/or cheese.

Cathy's Kitchen (Cathy Jenkins)

Cathy's Kitchen is really just a tribute to Cathy Jenkins' travels across the country. With a menu divided into sections by destination, her home-style kitchen churns out everything from seafood po-boys to vegan tacos. As chef and owner of the restaurant in Ferguson, Cathy has turned a first-time culinary venture (she and her husband used to run a necktie company) into a successful niche favorite by offering a menu unlike anything else around. 

Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery (Tamara Keefe)

Tamara Keefe owns one of the only microcreamery in St. Louis. In fact, there are less than twenty in the entire country, but two call St. Louis home. Her labor of love, Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery, creates all-natural, small batch, low overrun and high butter-fat ice cream (essentially, it's a special treat) that has St. Louisians begging for more. And with a third location opening soon, Keefe is barely keeping up with demand.

Oh, and did I mention they sell boozy ice cream in addition to non-alcoholic flavors? Expect to get carded if you want to sample the maple bourbon scoop. (I tried to get a taste of the maple bourbon once before realizing it was actually alcoholic, rather than just bourbon-flavored. I was laughed at. Don't make my mistake.)

Frida's (Natasha Kwan)

Natasha Kwan and her husband Rick Roloff named Frida's after their cat, but the restaurant has taken on a life of its own as St. Louis' premiere scratch-kitchen vegetarian restaurant. As executive chef, Kwan refrains from frying and microwaving and cooks without butter or sugar. While this might sound like a difficult way to run a kitchen, the clean-eating philosophy has carried Frida's to the top spot in a multitude of restaurant awards. My personal favorite is the loaded falafel sandwich (baked falafel, house-made hummus, cucumber, red onion, tomato, romaine, house-made dairy free tzatziki and pita loaded with sundried tomato, kalamata olives, feta, red pepper, artichoke hearts), though the build-your-own burgers are a tough competitor.

Kalbi Taco Shack (Sue Wong-Shackleford)

Sue Wong-Shackleford grew up in the food business, working in her parents' restaurants and pursuing a career as a restaurant consultant. And after a hiatus as an antiques business owner, she decided to return to her passion for cooking and open a food truck. Kalbi Taco Shack was born, combining Asian and Mexican cuisines into a masterful, portable, Arch City favorite. All I can say is, try the jackfruit.

Katie's Pizza and Pasta Osteria (Katie Lee-Collier)

Katie's Pizza and Pasta Osteria is owned by another husband and wife team, Ted & Katie Collier. As the chef, Katie has created a menu of inventive pizza and pasta combinations that have gained a serious following both amongst the public and from food critics. The fig burrata is a treasure, and the squash blossom pizza is one of the prettiest dishes I've seen in a while.

La Patisserie Chouquette (Simone Faure)

Simone Faure is an acclaimed pastry chef, who held the coveted position of executive pastry chef as the Ritz-Carlton's Saint Louis location before opening her own place. Named after her favorite French pastry (the chouquette), La Patisserie Chouquette offers everything from macarons to custom wedding cakes. The pastry shop occupies a corner of Tower Grove that has transformed from an empty gas station into a mini culinary paradise, hosting a growing number of restaurants and a multitude of happy eaters.

Lemmons by Grbic (Senada Grbic)

If Balkan-American cuisine is a new concept to you, you're not alone. But the Grbic children dreamt of bringing their parents' Bosnian heritage into the St. Louis food scene, and they weren't going to be stopped by anyone else's comfort zone. The Lemmons menu includes sandwiches, flatbreads, and "big plates," but the Balkan Dipping Board starter, with ustipci (fried bread), feta butter, ajvar (red pepper dip), and duxelle (chopped mushroom and onion spread) is the true star.

Like Home (Clemence and Christine Pereur)

Clemence and Christine Pereur are a mother-daughter team from France who decided to combine their love of baking with their love of St. Louis. In their pastry/chocolate shop turned café, the two serve up everything from croque madames to earl grey macarons. And everything at Like Home is inspired by their home of Condé Sainte Libiaire.

Lona's Lil Eats (Lona Luo)

Lona Luo is originally from a “hill tribe” area of the Yunnan province, which is known for its combination of Chinese and Thai influences built around fresh foods with spicy flairs. When she met her future husband, Pierce, Lona had no idea that she would eventually bring these flavors to St. Louis' Soulard neighborhood, but that's exactly what happened. Lona's Lil Eats provides this Midwestern city with a variety of dishes that can be made friendly to just about any diet. Lona's kitchen is most famous for its giant rice paper wraps, though the spicy cucumber is the stuff of legends.

Lulu's Local Eatery (Lauren Loomis)

Though sometimes confused with Lona's (above), Lulu's Local Eatery is a masterpiece of its own. Lulu Loomis and her husband Robbie opened their plant-based and sustainability-focused restaurant after abandoning corporate jobs in Chicago and easing into the restaurant business with a (sadly, now-defunct) food truck. Their plant-focused menu focuses on vegetables, rather than protein substitutes, as a way to remind everyone that vegetables themselves actually have tons of protein. With an extensive menu that changes seasonally, Lulu's always offers something new to try, and I'm always satisfied afterwards.

Pangea World Fusion (Jessica Gilroy)

Jessica Gilroy in a St. Louis native who left the city to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu. After returning home and shuffling around some of the city's premiere restaurants, Gilroy decided to branch out on her own and open Pangea World Fusion. The restaurant promotes itself as "casual fine dining," offering internationally-inspired comfort food and creative drinks. The restaurant also offers a separate (but full) gluten free menu.

Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream (Beckie Jacobs)

Serendipity is St. Louis' original microcreamery, opened by Beckie Jacobs in 2003 as a manifestation of her love for ice cream. While the ice cream flavors aren't the most adventurous in town, Serendipity's make-your-own ice cream sandwich offering is truly unique. Visitors can combine any ice cream scoop with two sandwich slices (options range from gooey butter cake cookies to donuts) for just $5.00. Oh, and Jacobs drives around in the "Fire and Ice Cream" converted 1946 Ford fire truck, serving ice cream to foodies and families alike.

The Palm Trees (Fedaa Alsadeq)

Fedaa Alsadeq always loved cooking for her American friends. Especially dishes from her native Saudi Arabia, to which she found little exposure in the United States. This passion for sharing cuisine close to her heart eventually expanded into a restaurant, where Alsadeq and her husband, Osama Almoerfi, cook up a blend of modern Saudi Arabian cuisine and traditional Arabic dishes. The Palm Trees attracts both experienced connoisseurs of Middle Eastern cuisine and first-timers to the Cherokee business district, drawing just about anyone in with the scent of kabsa (rice, meat, and tomato paste mixed in house-secret spices).

The Sweet Divine (Jenna Sieber)

Matthew Wenger

It's no secret that I love these cupcakes. Jenna Sieber began as an artist, and expanded into baking while decorating cakes with her mother. But the hobby soon turned into a legitimate passion, and eventually a food truck business. Now a brick-and-mortar shop in Soulard, The Sweet Divine offers a variety of baked goods and a coffee bar. But the cookie dough cupcake is still my favorite menu option (though, perhaps this will change once I'm able to try the banana cream pie...).

Tree House (Bay Tran)

Bay Tran is a vegetarian, and simply wanted to open a restaurant with offerings she wanted to eat herself. Tree House, the delectable result of Tran's dream, focuses on sustainable, seasonal, whole and locally sourced plant-based foods. It was the first vegetarian-only restaurant I ever ventured into, and it remains a personal go-to. The seitan, vegan cheeses, pickles, sauces, dressings, and desserts are all crafted from scratch in-house, and saving room for those special desserts is a must.

Whisk: a Sustainable Bakeshop (Kaylen Wissinger)

Zoe Gavil

Kaylen Wissinger started selling cupcakes in 2011, when she realized that there weren't bakeries around taking sufficient advantage of the variety of local produce available around St. Louis. The bakeshop's goal is to be as sustainable as possible—but never sacrificing flavor. The menu changes daily (based on ingredient availability), but expect fresh, fruity flavors to feature heavily across the summer menu.

Though many of these eateries are family affairs, the women powering them are calling shots in the kitchens and offices alike. And they all make great food, so how many more reasons do you need to support?