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Last year, Encinitas' St. Germain's Bistro & Cafe brought aboard Kaitlin Ramos to fill their executive chef vacancy. This move seems fairly pedestrian, but Ramos' gender makes her hire standout a bit. While home kitchens the world over are primarily commanded by women, professional kitchens are largely dominated by men. This is especially true where higher-up positions are concerned. Despite such an abundance of testosterone in the restaurant industry, chefs like Ramos rise to the top to make their mark on the culinary scene. Over the course of this year, St. Germain's will be celebrating such individuals with their Lady Chef series.

Beginning on February 1 and continuing on a quarterly basis, Ramos will invite female chefs from around the county to create dinner menus she will then prepare in place of her own menu for an entire month. The first guest whose fare will grace St. Germain's will be Isabel Cruz. Well known throughout San Diego for her eateries - Isabel's Cantina, Barrio Star, Seaside Cantina and Coffee Cup, locally- as well as her 2007 cookbook, Isabel's Cantina: Bold Latin Flavors from the New California Kitchen, she'll reach into her bag of Latin-inspired tricks to craft food that's far outside the bistro's French and Mediterranean wheelhouse. She'll also be putting together a one-night-only menu for Valentine's Day as well as a line-up of Mexican street food for taco Tuesdays, which will be offered every Tuesday throughout February.

Future Lady Chef participants will include executive chefs Dawn Parks from The Wild Thyme Company (May) and the Food Farm Truck's Kari Rich (August) as well as Alvanette Kauwalu (November), a personal chef specializing in Hawaiian and Asian fare. In October, all five chefs will collaborate to produce a special menu in the name of breast cancer awareness. Lady Chef menus will be offered during the restaurant's dinner hours, 5 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. St. Germain's Bistro & Cafe is located at 1010 South Coast Highway.

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