20 Most Influential Moms in Food (Slideshow)
April 17, 2015
We salute these super-moms
Getty Images Entertainment
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Despite being a Golden Globe nominated actress, Jessica Alba’s greatest accomplishment had almost nothing to do with her acting career. Frustrated by the lack of affordable, natural, and eco-friendly products for babies and the home, Alba co-founded a company with her business partner Christopher Gavigan that would change the way mom’s cared for their little ones. The Honest Company is a business dedicated to helping families raise babies in a healthy environment. While they seem to specialize in housewares, they do offer a line of multivitamins which are 100 percent natural and are derived from wholesome foods for mom and baby. Pretty cool mom, huh?
For Lidia Bastianich, our modern day mother of Italian cuisine, it was always about two things: food and family. This Emmy award-winning TV personality, author, entrepreneur restaurateur, and mother has fostered a vibrant interest and awareness of the passion behind Italian cooking. She has even collaborated with her two children Tanya and Joseph on several food ventures, including her partnership with Joseph in Eataly. In addition to her cookbooks, Bastianich has authored two children’s book, Nonna Tell Me a Story: Lidia’s Christmas Kitchen and Lidia’s Family Kitchen: Nonna’s Birthday Surprise. Not only has she contributed massively to the food world, she’s impacted families everywhere with her shows and interests that focus on bringing food and family together.
Rosalind Brewer’s decisions as the CEO of Sam’s Club affect families every day. The corporate industry mogul and mom has implemented several strategic plans to benefit her company and community. She claims to be a “strong advocate” for Sam’s Club’s many small business members, and hopes to give customers (and essentially America’s moms) the convenience of shopping anywhere, anytime.
Being a mother to four little boys definitely isn’t easy. Add the pressure of being an author, the first female Iron Chef, and a successful TV personality and you’ll have the makeup of the ever calm, cool, and collected Cat Cora. With roots firmly planted in her Greek-American heritage, Cora has brought an infinite amount of passion to the food industry. Cora’s ability to teach people how to cook, something mom’s all over always could use a little advice on, earned her Bon Appétit’s Teacher of the Year Award, and she now serves as the magazine’s executive chef.
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As an award winning journalist, TV personality, cancer research advocate, and mom, Katie Couric has a lot to be proud of. Couric began influencing the food industry when she co-produced Fed Up. While the project is to be released on May 9th, the project basically aims to reveal the frightening underbelly of the truth behind food and exercise, particularly as it pertains to childhood obesity. It also promises to be the film the food industry “doesn’t want you to see,” which of course means it is worth a look. Couric also hosts many chefs and health food experts on her show, often advocating for healthier family dinners and tips to leading a fit life.
Playfully referred to as the First Lady of Food, Dana Cowin has been making moves in the food industry for decades now. As the editor-in-chief of Food & Wine, Cowin has lead the magazine to curate not only quality content for the home chef and the advanced chef, she has helped bring several Best of the Best books to life and consistently brings exciting, new chefs into the spotlight. In additional to her professional conquests, she also serves as the director of City Harvest. This New York City organization is a hunger-relief organization and she spearheads the annual "Skip Lunch Fight Hunger" campaign, helping to feed New York families.
Giada De Laurentiis
The forever smiling, Italian-proud TV personality, chef, author, entrepreneur, and mom of one, Giada De Laurentiis’ story was one that always centered around food. When she was discovered by Food Network in 2002 via an article Food & Wine did about her catering company, they knew they found a modern-day chef that possessed Old World charm. On her shows and in her cookbooks, Giada consistently speaks to other moms by addressing the likes, dislikes, triumphs, and tribulations of her own children. De Laurentiis even wrote a children’s series, Recipe for Adventure, which aims to teach children of the world the joys of eating adventurously.
The story of the Pioneer Woman is one many mommy bloggers wish was their own. Ree Drummond’s story of falling in love with a cowboy and living a rural life on the ranch with her four children took the world by storm when she began her blog. She won Weblog of the Year at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Bloggie Awards, has written several cookbooks, nabbed a show on Food Network and has even authored a children’s book, Charlie the Ranch Dog, about her beloved basset hound. Drummond consistently shares her life with moms across America and not only shows them how to make hearty meals for the family, but makes sure that she shares her tips and tricks for managing a chaotic household. After all, you may have four kids, a dog, and a husband to care for, but could you imagine adding cattle into the equation?
From reality star housewife to food industry entrepreneur, author, and TV show host, Bethenny Frankel is living proof that you can do whatever you want with a little motherly know-how. While she might be known for her celebrity status, Frankel created the Skinnygirl line, which supports health conscious moms and women who are looking to cut back on calories without giving up flavor. Her line of low-cal cocktail mixtures may be the most prominent contribution to motherhood in America yet.
Though her life plan never really included food, Dori Greenspan dominates the baking space. With 10 cookbooks under her belt, six James Beard Awards, and three kitchens in Paris, New York City, and Connecticut to maintain, Greenspan has done all right. She and her son Joshua (affectionately known as “The Kid”) have even embarked on a few business ventures together. Although their Beurre & Sel cookie service is no longer operating, there are plenty of things on the horizon for Greenspan and her food loving family.
For Alex Guarnaschelli, the story of her career has always evolved around motherhood, particularly stemming from her own mother’s successful life as a cookbook editor and Guarnaschelli’s current role as a chef, TV personality, author, and mother herself. Her career is one that was well-earned as she worked her way up the food industry from student to executive chef at several prominent restaurants in France and in America. As someone who is passionate about American ingredients, Guarnaschelli was named an Iron Chef in 2012 and has since regularly appeared in various Food Network shows like Chopped and Alex’s Day Off. As mother to a little girl (whom she constantly gushes over), Guarnaschelli advocates for shopping smart and creatively for the family.
Missy Chase Lapine
Mom’s across the nation owed Missy Chase Lapine a huge favor after she began The Sneaky Chef series. Dedicated to create a healthy home environment for the family, Lapine created The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals, which taught parents how to get their kids to eat good food without them knowing it! Lapine serves as a member of Parenting magazine’s team of experts called “The Mom Squad,” and frequently shares her tips on healthy living with kids.
As the mother of two demanding miniature food critics, Catherine McCord sought out a way to make meal time accessible for all moms. Hence the birth of her kid-friendly brainchild Weelicious, an empire dedicated to bringing healthy, delicious baby and toddler- friendly recipes and foods to moms across the country. McCord has published several extremely helpful cookbooks and seeks to educate new families every day. Talk about a national mom!
With a portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Quaker, Pepsi-Cola, Tropicana, Aquafina, and Gatorade, PepsiCo owns what is almost certainly the world’s largest collection of food and beverage brands, including 22 different product lines. (Their salt and sugar bills must be enormous.) Since being named to her current position as head of PepsiCo in 2006, Nooyi was named Fortune’s "Most Powerful Woman" five years in a row (she placed second in 2011, 2012, and 2013). While Nooyi has spearheaded new lines of nutrition-conscious products (like Stevia-sweetened orange juice and reduced-fat potato chips), shareholders are reportedly unhappy with her efforts in the soft drink field, where Pepsi has lost market share to its longtime rival Coca-Cola. Still, Nooyi remains adamantly against splitting up their beverage and snack divisions.
Does the First Lady really need any introduction? Michelle Obama is an influential mother of two beautiful girls, but extended her mom-reach even farther when she began the Let’s Move! campaign. This healthy, food-focused, active lifestyle program inspired parents, teachers, and kids to get off of the couch and into some fun. They’ve successfully taught families the importance of healthy food and portion control decisions. The First Lady has since partnered with several prominent public figures to reinforce healthy living and to help her wage the war against childhood obesity.
As a former financial and food industry analyst, Robyn O'Brien asked a tough question that was on all mothers of children with food allergies minds: what is going on with our food? Or more specifically: “Are we allergic to food or what's been done to it?” Stores like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Burger King, Chipotle, Nestlé, and Target have all heard O’Brien’s concerns loud and clear as she works with them to help change the landscape of our food nation. She also founded AllergyKids, an organization aimed to help mothers of children with allergies navigate a potentially dangerous world for their children.
There is little that food writer and author Ruth Reichl hasn’t accomplished. Since she began writing about food in 1972, she’s served as the editor-in-chief of prominent food verticals like Gourmet Magazine, and has written more than a handful of best-selling memoirs. And awards? On top of her six James Beard Awards, Reichl was honored with multiple awards that included Adweek’s Editor of the Year in 2007. Her vast knowledge of the food industry is practically unparalleled and her thumbprint has permanently been impressed upon the food industry from her critiques to her novels.
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Mom and media mogul Martha Stewart has been helping mothers across the country elevate their entertaining status since her days as a gourmet caterer in the 1970s. A self-taught cook and the definition of a self-starter in general, Stewart’s empire has grown immensely since her days spent hunched over Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She’s published countless books, hosted her own show, and created the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia brand that highlights everything from food to weddings with their various publications.
When Happy Baby grew up into Happy Family, CEO and founder Shazi Vishram truly made her mark on the modern family. As a mother herself, Vishram watched friends struggle with providing their children with healthy foods and vowed to help them get quality food without slaving away in the kitchen for hours. Today, Happy Family provides organic foods for babies, toddlers, kids, and adults that can help the family stay healthy together!
Aside from being an accomplished chef, restaurateur and author, Alice Water’s became a mother to the world in addition to her own children when she began The Edible Schoolyard Project. Not only was she named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, her project has been educating the nation on sustainable healthy foods for more than 17 years.