Inside Arts

 Inside Arts

In Dayton, We Like Our Women in the Kitchen!

By Brian Sharp

In Dayton, We Like Our Women in the Kitchen!

No, this is not some chauvinistic view of women—this is a highlight of some of the amazing women chefs who exist in our community. Dayton has a rich and full restaurant community, and certainly some of the highlights, whether high end or family based, come from women.

As I think about some of my favorite restaurants in town, names that come to mind are Roost, Rue Dumaine, Meadowlark and even Golden Nugget. I am teased constantly about whether or not there is a booth with my name on it at Golden Nugget. I say Golden Nugget is what it is: consistent, fresh, friendly and a bottomless cup of coffee, just when you need it. I don’t think the women chefs have to be at high-end restaurants, though I am glad they are. We have some of the best tucked away in kitchens all over town.

The first that comes to mind is Dana Downs, owner and executive chef of Roost – Modern Italian in the Oregon District. Recently, Dana has added a dough room (where you can have a private dinner) and a newly renovated bar where you can gather, have dinner or just wait for a table while enjoying cocktails. Dana does a fantastic job of keeping the ingredients fresh, the menu varied and exciting, and desserts that you simply cannot pass up. Service is exceptional, the food delicious, the atmosphere fun and exciting, and there is a free valet so you never have to worry about parking in the district. If you haven’t been to Roost—or you haven’t been there lately—you need to go! This chef is always on her game and knows how to work a room, but, most of all, she has a commanding presence in the kitchen that delivers great food every time.

Next, I would have to say that Anne Kearney, owner and executive chef of Rue Dumaine on State Rte. 725 in Centerville, has a story that is as interesting as her delicious menu. Anne, besides being named on the list of James Beard finalists year after year, has been through some difficulties in life that have left her with an appreciation of things that are important: family, friends, great food, great ingredients, great atmosphere and a desire to keep things local. She has a charm that comes out not only in the way she can visit from table to table but also in the taste of what leaves her kitchen. Rue Dumaine and Anne Kearney are certainly not to be missed. Get to Rue Dumaine and enjoy some fine French cuisine— you’ll be glad you did!

In another fine restaurant in town, you will find Elizabeth Wiley, owner and executive chef of Meadowlark restaurant in Kettering. Wiley also has her hand in a hip new wood-grilled pizza restaurant in downtown Dayton, Wheat Penny. Meadowlark has become known for its amazing sandwiches and house-made condiments—the ketchup is not to be missed! Everything is fresh and full of flavor. Complex salads are perfect to enjoy for a meal because you will want to leave room for the delicious desserts. Meadowlark also has plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. The grilled cauliflower T-bone at Wheat Penny is a guilt-free option for dinner.

There are plenty of high-end, fine-dining restaurants in Dayton with women at the helm: places like Hawthorne Grille in Kettering, Olive in downtown Dayton or even The Wellington in Beavercreek. But this list isn’t just about fine dining. There is a lady at a family-run business that is simply one of the best, or at least one of my favorites.

In the kitchen at Golden Nugget is Stacey Frangomichalos. Nothing goes through that kitchen that is not under the supervision of Frangomichalos. From house-made soups and chili to breakfast specials, everything is consistent and delicious. It is not uncommon to see a line of people waiting for a table at Golden Nugget that wraps into the lobby and even outdoors. When you enjoy breakfast or lunch at Golden Nugget, you are part of the family. The coffee never stops flowing. I have enjoyed even non-menu items being brought out just to try. Even though Stacey is in the kitchen (and I might add her hair and makeup is always perfect—even in a hot kitchen), her sisters Alex and Stephanie play a part in the success of this Dayton institution—and we all miss Genie!

So you see, we really do like to keep our women in the kitchen because, quite simply, they’re the best! Take a moment to enjoy the talents of all of these fine women. You will not be disappointed.