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Inspiring foodies we’re celebrating on International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, we’ve asked the Sainsbury’s magazine team to nominate their most inspiring female foodie – and the recipe they love the most...

Alex Head, founder of Social Pantry, nominated by Editor-in-Chief Helena Lang

Alex Head, founder of Social Pantry
Alex Head, founder of Social Pantry

‘Alex Head is extraordinary. Not only does she have an eye for great looking food that tastes delicious, not only does she run two cafes, one restaurant and a four-site catering business, not only is she a mum to young Roxy, but… she also has made it her mission since 2015 to employ ex-offenders. This takes a huge amount of work, drive and motivation and is especially difficult for a small business. I love the idea of people getting a second chance in life or being offered an opportunity that would have never happened before. Go Alex!’

Her best recipe: Salmon pâté. ‘Alex’s food is always so pretty, just what I fancy sharing with some friends in a sunny spot in the garden once we’re allowed…’

Samantha Clark, co-founder of Moro and Morito, nominated by Food Director Sarah Akhurst

Chef Samantha Clark. Image: Laura Edwards
Chef Samantha Clark. Image: Laura Edwards

‘Longevity is hard to achieve in London’s ever-evolving restaurant scene, so I always have enormous respect for anyone who manages to bottle that magic formula. Sam and her husband (also called Sam!) first opened Moro in 1997, with a Moorish-inspired menu that would go on to pave the way for many a future food trend.

‘When I was training for my culinary diploma I was lucky enough to do some work experience there and was struck by how different their ethos was. The kitchen was a refreshingly vibrant mix of men and women from diverse cultures, everyone sat together for breakfast before the restaurant opened and the typical cycle of notoriously challenging double shifts was actively discouraged. It felt like a very different model to other kitchens I had experienced, where I frequently wondered if someone had penned “Woman in kitchen. Please stare.” across my forehead without me noticing. 

'Sam’s way of cooking is exactly the way I like to cook for friends, relaxed sharing dishes that pay respect to the ingredients with clever flavour combinations that truly sing on the palette. If I ever owned a restaurant, Moro would be my blueprint.’

Her best recipe: Chicken with almonds and grapes. ‘This is exactly the kind of thing I’d make as part of a relaxed sharing feast for friends.’

Dame Mary Berry, chef, food writer and television presenter, nominated by Associate Editor Sarah Maber

Dame Mary Berry. Image: Dan Jones
Dame Mary Berry. Image: Dan Jones

‘Dame Mary Berry is a wonder woman! She grew up in the second world war, overcame polio as a child (and credits the illness for toughening her up and teaching her to make the most of every opportunity), raised a family, has appeared in umpteen TV shows, published over 70 cookery books and judged The Great British Bake Off for seven years (where she introduced millions to the horrors of a soggy bottom). Her easy-to-follow recipes taught me how to bake, and her traybakes, biscuits, teatime bakes and celebration cakes have got me through birthdays, visits from the in-laws, children’s parties and anniversaries. My 11-year-old daughter is now also learning to bake the Berry way, and has been so inspired she’s entering the Junior Bake Off next year. Mary – we salute you.’

Her best recipe: Dorset apple cake'I grew up in Dorset, so Dorset Apple Cake holds a very special place in my heart. This one by Mary Berry is super easy to make, and absolutely goes with an afternoon cup of tea.'

Meera Sodha, chef and food writer, nominated by Junior Food Editor Abi Spooner

Chef Meera Sodha
Chef Meera Sodha

‘Indian cuisine is one of my all-time favourites, and yet cooking with spice can be a tricky and occasionally intimidating balancing act to master. Chef and food writer Meera Sodha’s recipes are full of flavour, whilst also achievable and easy-to-follow. Born to Ugandan Indian parents, Meera’s food is personal and draws from her Gujarati heritage and childhood memories.’

Her best recipe: Raspberry and rose kulfi. ‘For me, these kulfi are the perfect way to cool down after a spicy meal.’

Monica Galetti, MasterChef judge and chef proprietor of Mere, nominated by Digital Editor Liz Stansfield

Chef and presenter Monica Galetti
Chef and presenter Monica Galetti

‘I adore Monica on Masterchef: The Professionals. She seemingly wears her – huge – talents lightly and is generous with her time and advice. In one memorable episode in the middle of yet another lockdown, she spoke for a nation on the edge when she went to comfort a tearful chef with the words: "I really want to give you a hug, but I can’t." When we’re allowed to eat out again, I’d love a blow-out meal at her restaurant Mere, where I’ll be on high alert for her and her no-nonsense glasses breezing through the place.’

Her best recipe: Christmas quiche. ‘Anyone who puts festive leftovers into a quiche deserves a culinary medal.’

Zoe Adjonyoh, chef and food writer, nominated by Managing Food Editor Tamsin Burnett-Hall 

Chef Zoe Adjonyoh
Chef Zoe Adjonyoh

'Zoe Adjonyoh has not only inspired me to learn more about African food, but also to look at the intersections of food, culture, identity and politics. She’s a highly articulate advocate for a greater diversity of voices in food, without the labelling and pigeonholing that can so easily happen. We all gain variety and perhaps a different understanding of heritage by cooking recipes from cultures not our own. Born in Essex to Ghanaian and Irish parents, Zoe first started exploring her heritage through food, and is on a mission to take people on a food journey where they can try ingredients and flavours they've never tasted before; her 2017 cookbook Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen offers a vibrant exploration of her fusion of influences, and she also offers traditional African spices, mixes and flavoured salts through her online shop.'

Her best recipe: Waakye lamb stew. 'Next time you’re thinking of making a lamb stew, why not try her Waakye lamb stew, which gives an insight into the slightly different cooking processes that are a feature of much African food, using spices that are already familiar in a different combination.'

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