Blog, Local Reviews, Xtras

Women in Culinary

Co-written by Leslie of Hungry in the Hammer and Heather of Hamilton Small Fries

The culinary industry is typically a male-dominated scene, but in our city there are several talented women making waves. Delicious, and innovative, waves. We have rounded up some of our favourite females utilizing their talents in the Hamilton food industry:

Hamilton Small Fries | Gage Park Diner | Hamilton, Ontario

One of my favourite places to go for brunch in the city is Gage Park Diner.  The restaurant, directly across from Gage Park, has a spectacular view no matter the season. The staff are always incredibly friendly and welcoming. The food is great diner fare with an Indigenous flair, thanks to owner and head cook Christine Cayuga. Christine grew up in the culinary arts and brings that knowledge to her food, which is honest and hearty.  When we asked what her favourite part of being a chef in Hamilton is, she said that she truly values connecting with the families who come in.  I’ve seen this first hand, including when a customer came in to pick up a take-out order and had a debit card that wouldn’t work.  Christine insisted that he take the food home with him and to bring in the money when he was able.  I was so impressed with her kindness. Her advice to women who want to enter the culinary scene in Hamilton is to be prepared for a significant amount of hard work – no matter your gender or sex, working in a kitchen takes tremendous dedication.  We are fortunate that Christine has that dedication and shares her talent with Hamilton.
To read more about Gage Park Diner, visit

Hamilton Small Fries | Amo Gelato | Hamilton, Ontario

Amo Gelato has been a remarkable addition to Locke Street.  Their commitment to their icy craft is clear – they always have a huge amount of flavours and offer lactose-free and vegan options. Their newest concoctions are the Bottom of the Bowl creations – made from delicious cereals. Ally Amato is the owner and gelato guru.  She was drawn into the culinary arts because of her love for good food, and that helps to fuel her passion for Hamilton’s culinary scene. She loves seeing how her home-town is coming alive in the culinary arts, and loves seeing all the new restaurants and food establishments that are opening up (and we’ll give a shout out to the restaurant about to open that is co-owned by her partner – Cima Enoteca, also on Locke!). Her advice to women who want to get started in the culinary arts in Hamilton is to follow their dreams and to go for it.  If her success is any indication, it’s damn good advice.
To read more about Amo Gelato, visit

Hamilton Small Fries | Toast Wine Bar | Hamilton, Ontario

Treble Hall on John St. North is one of the gems of Hamilton and Toast Wine Bar is helping to lead in it’s resurrection. Owned by two women, Sarah Bond and Christine McConville, it is a lovely place to stop for a glass of wine (or two) and a lovely nosh.  Jackie Hendricks ensures that the plates going out compliment the wine perfectly.  Jackie describes getting her passion for cooking from her mom, growing up in a house where cooking from scratch was valued and where a fridge that looked empty was a chance to create something new to cook. Having worked in restaurants, both front of house and in the kitchen, fed her passion and attending culinary school helped Jackie to take the skills learned from her mother and grandmother and refine them even further, one of the best decisions of her life.  Her passion for her art carries over into her suggestions for other women interested in working in the culinary arts. Jackie’s advice is, “Be yourself. Have passion & respect. Passion for your job, passion for creativity, and passion/love for the ingredients you are using. Have respect for others & respect for yourself and always remember that respect is earned as well as being a 2 way street. Have respect for the ingredients and remember there’s always a farmer who worked hard to grow those vegetables & raise that cow. Never let that hard work go to waste”.  To read more about Toast Wine Bar, visit

Hamilton Small Fries | Karam Kitchen | Hamilton, Ontario

I had my first foray into Karam Kitchen’s cooking at a CoMotion on King event last year, but I had heard talk of them long before that. Hamiltonians love the women of Karam Kitchen, and for good reason. “The Generous Kitchen” creates meaningful employment for Syrian newcomers, breaking down barriers that many newcomers face, all the while creating amazing food for the city. When speaking with Dalal Al Zoubi, one of the founding chefs at Karam Kitchen, we asked what drove her to be a part of a project like this. Dalal said she has always wanted her family to eat fresh, homemade food under her own hands, and her favourite bit about being a part of Karam Kitchen is when she makes any food and the customers tell her that the food is very good. Dalal loves punctuality and when her orders are created right on time according to the customers’ request. When asked about advice for women wanting to break into the culinary scene? “She must have experience in food. Smile. It’s important.” And boy do we love that advice.
To read more about Karam Kitchen or try it out for yourself, visit

Hamilton Small Fries | Mesa | Hamilton, Ontario

Chef Veronica Sanchez, the owner of Mesa in Hamilton, got her start with food as a young girl in San Miguel, cooking with her aunts who sold handmade tamales, tostadas and candies at local markets and makeshift store-fronts. She grew up surrounded by entrepreneurial women who were passionate about food. A few years down the road, she found herself in the city of Hamilton (after successful restaurants like her first in Leamington called Tequila Sunrise) getting the same joy from customer’s faces lighting up eating her food, that she did when she first started. Chef Veronica Sanchez is so proud to be a part of the thriving Hamilton culinary scene, she states that it’s impossible not to feel inspired when you’re surrounded by talent and a clear love for that. But for her, it’s all about the connections … connections to the community, connections to her roots, and connections to her guests. Her advice for women breaking into the culinary scene? If food is what you love, take a leap of faith and immerse yourself in it, in a way that makes sense for you and your goals. Talent and passion will get you started, but resilience will keep you going. Hamilton thanks you for bringing your culinary talents and passion to Hamilton, Chef Veronica!
To read more about Mesa, visit

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