When a restaurant is awarded the Michelin star it speaks volumes, not just for the restaurant but for the chef(s) as well. Receiving a star is not something that is easy to come by and only a few restaurants get that honor each year.

This year, Chicago-based establishments Kikko and Kumiko were among those recognized. What makes this honor even more special, the Executive chef is a Black woman.

Mariya Russell is the first Black woman to ever receive this honor. While many chefs work decades before being able to add that to their resume, Mariya did it within a year. Can you say Black girl magic?


Russell fell in love with cooking at an early age. The Ohio native began making meals for herself and eventually moved on to wanting to cook for her family. After high school, she attended The Cooking and Hospitality Institute in Chicago and worked in several restaurants after that.

She spent a little time in Charleston, South Carolina before moving back to Chicago to work as a server after her father passed away. During that time, Mariya worked hard to perfect her craft which eventually caught the attention of the owners of Kikko and Kumiko.

In her role, she is serving up globally inspired dishes like Japanese milk bread toast with fermented honey ice cream and truffle. Her dishes have caught the attention of culinary greats Bon Appetite and Food & Wine.

Dear Mariya, we salute you, queen!

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