Celebrating our Women in Culinary!

Two women in culinary whites stand together in a professional kitchen.

Congratulations to Tanarsha Farley and Cristina Espinosa!

In high school, Tanarsha Farley wanted to be a defense attorney. But life had other plans, and the newly promoted executive sous chef at Emory University just marked nine years with Bon Appétit Management Company. “I started as a cook, went to supervisor, then sous chef, and just got promoted to executive sous chef,” says the Atlanta native. Getting that promotion, she says, “changes things a lot because this wasn’t the career I set out to do. I didn’t attend culinary school, I just work really, really, really hard at everything that I do,” she says. “I have three kids, and this shows them how hard work pays off.” 

Farley was chosen this year to travel to Dallas, TX to represent Bon Appétit at Compass Group’s annual Women in Culinary Showcase in early March, a gathering among all of Compass’s sectors that celebrates women’s contributions to the field. “It was mind-blowing,” says Farley. “To be able to meet these incredible women and hear their stories — I’m just living the dream right now,” she says. 

A woman in a white chef's coat stands smiling in a commercial kitchen

Tanarsha at the showcase, “living the dream.”

And although her career path wasn’t the one she anticipated when she was younger, Farley is reveling in the work. “I’m soaking up everything that I can learn and trying to be better than I was yesterday,” she says. “It sparks something in me, to see the students get excited about what we put out — and then I think, maybe this is my calling.”

Tanarsha brings both talent and commitment to Emory. Her cooking (she’s well-known for a cranberry-orange roasted chicken dish) has been described as marked by creativity, innovation, and a deep understanding of diverse culinary traditions. Director of Operations at Emory Nick Walker also described Tanarsha as standing out “for her dedicated mentorship, actively guiding and empowering the next generation of culinary professionals, especially women, and offering valuable insights for navigating the challenges of the culinary world.” 

Cristina Espinosa, an executive catering chef at one of our Bay Area technology accounts, attended the Women in Culinary event along with Tanarsha. “I was elated when I heard I’d been chosen,” she said. “Working here, we do a lot of hard work, we have long days, and a lot goes into it, so it felt like a reward for what we’ve been doing.” 

A former produce manager at a grocery store in the Bay Area, Cristina knew she had more to offer the world and wanted to find a career she loved, she said. She enrolled in culinary school and soon after, was offered an externship with Bon Appétit at the company where she still works 11 years later.  

During her tenure with the company, Cristina has become known for her playful experimentation with plant-forward dishes, such as a maitake mushroom taco she developed, and a mushroom “faux gras” — essentially a pâté that’s been a hit with the VIP clients she often cooks for. Her favorite type of cooking though, is fusing the cooking she did growing up in a Mexican household in Oakland with her training in classical French technique. “Sometimes I’ll cook that way for my parents and they’re like, how did you do that?”

A woman in a white chef's coat stands and addresses a group of other women chefs seated around her.

Cristina shares her experience with other women chefs at the event.

That innovative spark has helped Cristina stand out in a company full of culinary talent. Her manager, Senior Culinary Director Bill Billenstein described her as “a creative and innovative leader who is not afraid to push the boundaries. She empowers her team members and rewards hard work with career support and advocacy.” 

Cristina concurs. “One of my favorite things is training and teaching and seeing my trainees really dig into what is being taught and go through the steps of being promoted. Especially when it comes to women chefs in the culinary field. “I really just want to push the envelope when it comes to women in the industry,” she says. 

Congratulations Cristina and Tanarsha, two amazing women culinarians! Bon Appétit is lucky to have you. 


A large group of women gather in front of a purple sign and make heart hand gestures.

Lots of love for the Women in Culinary Showcase!