A chef working in Cumbria has been named in the top 40 of women working in the culinary industry in the UK.

Nina Matsunaga, chef-owner of The Black Bull in Sedbergh, made the list compiled by Champagne Ayala and SquareMeal, which was drawn together to mark International Women’s Day 2024.

Nina's use of flavours from her Japanese and German heritage, underpinned by her use of the very best seasonal British ingredients, has won her critical acclaim.

She said: "I certainly didn’t expect to be listed among the UK’s top 40 female chefs - being in the company of some of the industry’s iconic female chefs is pretty amazing.

‘’The one thing we’ve always tried to be is an inclusive team - as far as we’re concerned all that matters is that you have the ability and skill to be able to do your job and to have the wherewithal to be prepared to evolve, learn and develop in your role so that you can meet the challenges you will inevitably face in a busy working kitchen and above all grow as a person.’’

Most recently, Nina introduced herself to a national audience by appearing on BBC Two's Great British Menu.

Read more: Sedbergh chef Nina Matsunaga appears on Great British Menu | The Westmorland Gazette

This year’s run-down includes Michelin-starred legends and fine dining champions as well as emerging talent, many of whom are mixing up traditional techniques and combining them with new ways of presenting food.

Alongside new and exciting talent such as Nina sit a host of industry luminaries.  

These include the likes of Hélène Darroze, Lisa Godwin-Allen, Sally Abe, Monica Galetti, Pam Brunton, Angela Hartnett, Anne-Sophie Pic, Nieves Barrágan Mohacho and Stosie Madi.

Rankings such as these are designed to showcase how there are still far more male than female chefs in kitchens across the UK today, and still fewer who are at the helm.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that in 2017 only 17% of chef positions in the UK were held by women.

People like Nina are continuing to buck the trend, in the hope that increased notoriety will encourage more young women to step into the industry.