On season one of Chef's Table, Dan Barber, the mastermind behind the famous Blue Hill at Stone Barns, noted that we live in a time when chefs have become celebrities. Between shows like the aforementioned Chef's Table and Top Chef and food crazes brought on by creations like cronuts and sushi burritos, we are as familiar with names like Dominique Ansel and David Chang and Marcus Samuelsson as we are with those of celebrities that front our favorite magazines. And while I would willingly watch the now-thrice-mentioned Chef's Table (I may be a fan) over and over again until the next new season comes out, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that there are significantly fewer women chefs with the same degree of recognition or visibility.
It's a not-so-little-known fact that the food and liquor industries are still dominated by men. It's doubtlessly due in part to the gender bias that continues to prevail in many kitchens that there are considerably fewer April Bloomfields and Nancy Silvertons (who, by the way, gave Barber his first job—which she also quickly fired him from for his then-lack of baking skills) that dominate our screens and delight us with their presence. With this in mind, we wanted to highlight 30 incredible women who are behind some of our favorite restaurants, bottled beverages, and pastries. Some are well-known, some have started food trends (hello, poke and kombucha), and some you need to put on your radar ASAP. We love them, and we think you will too. Ahead, their stories.
Erica Blumenthal and Nikki Huganir, founder of Yes Way Rosé and creators of Summer Water
After turning their love for the pink-hued wine into a full-fledged brand dedicated to all things rosé-related, writer Erica Blumenthal and designer Nikki Huganir, the duo behind brand Yes Way Rosé, teamed up with Winc digitally native winery to collaborate on Summer Water. After two rounds of the vintages selling out within weeks, Winc expanded the rosé program production from 3K to 300K in two years. To make sure lovers of rosé never run out of their holy water again, the two teamed up with Winc once more this month to launch a wine club that guarantees that you can get a supply of rosé all summer, with drops of magnum-sized bottles—accompanied by Yes Way Rosé curated items—delivered to you from Memorial to Labor Day.
How did you team up with Winc?
It's actually a very modern Instagram-era story! In the first year that we started our @yeswayrose account, we posted a picture of Jollie Folle rosé, a beautiful wine with a nautical label that we love. Someone tagged the winemaker, Brian Smith, and we became Instagram friends with him. We met up with Brian in New York, and he told us about Winc, the new wine company that he had recently launched, and suggested we do something together. We created some content for their site in the summer of 2014, and in May 2015, we launched the first vintage of Summer Water together.
In your own words, what's Summer Water like?
It's a dry, crisp, beautifully pale pink rosé made in California's central coast. It's inspired by our favorites from Provence, the motherland of rosé. Our first inside joke as rosé lovers was calling it, "Summer Water," so when we were developing the wine with Winc, we knew we had to give it that name.
Summer Water was met with a huge demand! Why do you think rosé is having such a moment right now?
I think Summer Water has had so much success because it's a modern spin on a beautiful classic. The label and name are both super fun and catchy. There's a vibrant California boost to the wine. It all works together really well.
What is your favorite summer water/food pairing?
Summer Water is so versatile that it pairs well with pretty much everything: pizza, niçoise salad, spicy flavors, steak, etc. We are both really into cheese though, so we love to put together a dreamy cheese plate and drink some pink vino together.