Women’s History Month Episode 3: Nikki Thompson, Rica Rances & Dee Buizer

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting nine badass chefs. In episode one, we featured Gabrielle Thomas, Maria Mazon, and Wendy Garcia. Episode two featured Coralie Satta, Janet Jones and Wendy Gauthier.

Some are business owners that have been in the game for years — others are sous chefs that worked their way up straight out of culinary school. All are notable female chefs in the Tucson culinary scene.

It helps to have more than pure drive and unshakable determination to make it in this fast-paced and cutthroat industry.

Nook owner-chef Nikki Thompson, Senae Thai owner-chef Dee Buizer, and The Parish sous chef Rica Rances’ culinary journeys have been inspired and supported by their families.

Nook and “2 Hearts, 1 Kitchen” chef-owner Nikki Thompson has had her husband Matt by her side since they graduated culinary school together. After their externship in Hawaii and traveling and cooking throughout Europe, the couple decided to put their all into opening their own business. “We’ve got to do this on our own,” Thompson said. “We quit our jobs, kind of make it or don’t make it.”

The Parish sous chef Rances’ early food industry experiences were with her family back in the Philippines. Their carinderia’s five-year run came to an end after her father’s death, but it inspired her mother to open a restaurant and Rances to venture into culinary school.

Senae Thai Bistro chef-owner Buizer’s family has eight restaurants, five of which she opened. The California resident opened Senae after moving to Tucson and realizing there was an upscale, fine dining-niche to be filled, and refined her mother’s recipes. “All the cooking has to be accredited to my mom. She opened the first Thai restaurant in San Francisco in 1968,” Buizer said.

“So the recipes I have here, majority is from her. I just wanted to present my forte, my passion of an upscale, fine dining in Thai cuisine.”

Our Women’s History Month spotlight is three episodes, which can be found here at tucsonfoodie.com, on the Tucson Foodie YouTube channel, and on the Tucson Foodie Facebook page.

Shana Rose is a Tucson-based food writer and videographer.