The culinary world is extremely competitive at the top, and Mariya Russell has emerged as a rising star on the scene. Speaking of stars, the Chicago-based chef is the first Black woman to be awarded a coveted Michelin Star based on her cooking talent.
As “Chef de Cuisine” of Chicago’s Kumiko/Kikko, Russell has received lots of recognition for her Japanese-influenced dishes. Her journey in cooking began for her as a child in Springfield, Ohio, where she would shadow her mother in the kitchen.
As a high school student in Columbus, Russell attended a career academy course that inspired the chef-to-be towards a career in the restaurant business. After high school, Russell entered the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago and made the city her new home base. She worked in a number of restaurants, including a place owned by Kumiko/Kikko co-owner, Noah Sandoval.
Russell is also aware of her rarity as a Black woman and lead chef in one of the nation’s most talked about hot spots, saying in a recent interview that the industry hasn’t always been kind to her.