New Film Featuring Top Chef Stars Highlights The Challenges Women Face In The Food Industry

"Her Name Is Chef" is a new documentary from Virgil Films & Entertainment that follows a number of talented and acclaimed female culinary stars as they address and cope with the challenges that women in the food industry invariably face (according to the official website). The long-awaited 98-minute film premiered in "virtual cinemas" last month before it was released via most streaming platforms on April 27 — you can see it now on Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo, and Vudu. A DVD release is also expected in May, according to Good Morning America.

Its subjects include Fatima Ali, a former Food Network star that sadly passed away in 2019. The late, beloved New York City chef was also a "Top Chef" contestant during Season 15 in late 2017, and died from a bone cancer known as Ewing's sarcoma. This new documentary was filmed during her cancer treatment, and the film spends time addressing how Ali's diagnosis presented its own array of challenges to her career trajectory (via Us Weekly). 

Also appearing in the film is "Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi, who posted on April 28 that she was honored to have been a part of the "poignant, necessary film that highlights women in the culinary world," and also made a brief tribute to Ali (via Instagram). The other "bad-ass, inspiring sheroes of the kitchen" featured in "Her Name Is Chef" include Elizabeth Falkner, Hillary Sterling, Esther Choi, Juliet Masters, and Caroline Schiff. As they engage with the documentary's host, Leia Gaccione, each woman reveals difficult truths about the male-dominated restaurant industry and each also makes an inspiring case for never giving up on your dreams.

The film became a tribute to Fatima Ali

Directed by Peter Ferriero, "Her Name Is Chef" depicts how these six women have navigated the intensely male-dominated restaurant industry, which is as rife with every bit of gender discrimination as the clichés would suggest. Though, as US Foods reports, women are making more and more strides, including holding an ownership role in half of the restaurants around the country and as much as 46% of female chefs in management positions (a statistic from the U.S. Department of Labor).

Ferriero, who previously tackled another testosterone-heavy industry — professional wrestling — in his feature-length directorial debut, "The Price of Fame" (via IMDB) has said that he was inspired to make "Her Name Is Chef" because of his experience at a female-owned restaurant where "the owner struggled to prove herself to her male counterparts" (via Good Morning America). "The film has meant so many things to me as I was making it," added Ferriero, "but in the end it's about sharing chef Fatima Ali's story, her legacy, and even more to spread her message 'to not wait, and go for your dreams now.'"