The world’s best female vegetable chef works in Japan

We’re Smart World honours 10 Best Lady Vegetable Chefs 2023

Brussels, October 13 2023 - Keiko Kuwakino, head chef at the Sanaburi restaurant in the Japanese region of Niigata, is the world’s Best Lady Vegetable Chef. She will receive this new award at the We’re Smart Awards from Frank Fol, the inspiration behind the culinary organisation We’re Smart. Two Belgians also feature among the 10 leading female vegetable chefs.

New award

This is the first time that We’re Smart, the undisputed leader in the culinary world of fruit and vegetables, is paying tribute to the world’s top 10 Best Lady Vegetable Chefs. The organisation’s guiding force Frank Fol, known as The Vegetable Chef®, will present the ten winners in this new category at the We’re Smart Awards in Brussels on 24 October.

The first six restaurants in the top 10 will receive 5 Radishes, the ultimate We’re Smart accolade. With these awards, the organisation acknowledges vegetable restaurants playing a pioneering role in the world in the field of fruit and veg, with a menu that is as “pure plant” as possible. The four other restaurants on the list will obtain 4 Radishes.

Japanese restaurant has top female vegetable chef

The prize for the world’s best female vegetable chef goes to Keiko Kuwakino, head chef at the Sanaburi restaurant, attached to the Satoyama Jujo hotel in the Japanese city of Niigata. Chefs Begoña Rodrigo (of La Salita in Valencia, Spain) and Justine Viano (of La Table de Castigno in Assignan, France) complete the top 3.

Keiko Kuwakino together with We're Smart founder Frank Fol
Keiko Kuwakino together with We're Smart founder Frank Fol

Two Belgian restaurants are also included in the world’s top 10. Head chef Laurence Haegeman of De Vijf Seizoenen in Brakel and Arabelle Meirlan of Arabelle in Marchin take fourth and fifth place respectively on the prestigious list.

Role models of the pure plant philosophy

With the “Best Lady Vegetable Chefs” awards, We’re Smart honours chefs who are striving to make the menu in their restaurant as pure plant as possible. The winners are inspiring role models for other female chefs who have put the “Think Vegetables! Think Fruit!” principle of the global We’re Smart movement into practice.

Frank Fol, founder We're Smart
Frank Fol, founder We're Smart
Frank Fol: ‘Female chefs are on the rise, but are still relatively few in number. By putting the best female vegetable chefs in the international spotlight, we want to show that there are still lots of opportunities in this field, and that female chefs too can achieve success and a high-level career.’


Awards for best vegetable restaurants

The presentation of the awards to the Best Lady Vegetable Chefs will form part of a festive We’re Smart award show in Brussels on 24 October. During the event, the organisation will announce the world’s best vegetable restaurants in the presence of several leading international chefs.

On the same evening, We’re Smart will also unveil the Future Awards 2023, for food companies that launch exceptional products, innovations or projects for a more ecological and sustainable lifestyle. In addition, it will launch its Green Guide: an online guide with reviews of around 1,200 restaurants in 50 countries worldwide, ranked from 1 to 5 Radishes to reflect the extent to which fruit and vegetables play a leading role in their dishes.

The world’s top 10 Best Lady Vegetable Chefs (2023)

Here are the 10 best female vegetable chefs in the world, ranked by score:

1. Sanaburi - Satoyama Jujo, Niigata (JAP)

Keiko Kuwakino (5 Radishes)

2. La Salita, Valencia (SPA)

Begoña Rodrigo (5 Radishes)

3. La Table de Castigno (FRA)

Justine Viano (5 Radishes)

4. De Vijf Seizoenen, Brakel (BEL)

Laurence Haegeman (5 Radishes)

5. Arabelle, Marchin (BEL)

Arabelle Meirlan (5 Radishes)

6. Apricity, London (ENG)

Chantelle Nicholson (5 Radishes)

7. The Green Spot, Barcelona (SPA)

Julia Kleist (4 Radishes)

8. Hiša Franko, Kobarid (SLO) 

Ana Roš (4 Radishes)

9. Kjolle, Lima (PER)

Pia Leon (4 Radishes)

10. Auberge La Fenière, Cadenet (FRA)

Nadia Sammut (4 Radishes)

Frank Fol: ‘With this new award, specifically for female vegetable chefs, We’re Smart is continuing its work of constructing a broad international movement of chefs, restaurants, food companies and other stakeholders. Together, we’re encouraging everyone to make better choices, for a better future for us all.’

About We're Smart®

We're Smart is the undisputed reference in the culinary world of fruits and vegetables. The brainchild of Frank Fol, The Vegetable Chef®, recognises and promotes individuals, restaurants, and organizations that put fruit and vegetables at the heart of nutrition. 

The annual gourmet guide We're Smart Green Guide features the world's best vegetable restaurants, ranked from one to five Radishes. Each year, the We're Smart Awards honors the best vegetable restaurants and organizations. In the We're Smart Academy, the world's best vegetable chefs share their knowledge with anyone interested in healthy and ecological food. It’s how We're Smart® World is contributing to a healthy, sustainable and ecological world. 

We're Smart World was selected by the Belgian government in 2021 as one of the official SDG-Voices, the ambassadors for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

For more information, visit 

Follow We're Smart World Facebook or We're Smart Green Guide Instagram for the latest updates.

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