Meet The Women Leading Long Beach’s Eclectic Foodie Scene

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the women making waves in the Long Beach food scene at a few of the most up-and-coming and innovative eateries in Southern California.

Kat Vacharabul, Hangry Belly / Koolberry

Chef Kat Vacharabul owns two restaurants at SteelCraft Long Beach (3768 Long Beach Blvd), an outdoor food hall in Bixby Knolls. She first launched burger restaurant Hangry Belly and, based on its success, pivoted to the world of sweets. Koolberry at Steelcraft offers acai bowls, milkshakes, ice cream sundaes, and other desserts. Hangry Belly continues to serve a menu of indulgent burgers, fries, and a couple options for little bellies at SteelCraft. Both restaurants specialize in culinary creations that are playful and over the top, whether it’s a burger topped with extra BBQ brisket or a milkshake with a slice of cheesecake nestled on the rim. Part of Chef Vacharabul’s focus is building several small businesses to help provide opportunities for other female chefs to grow.

Dima Habibeh, Ammatoli

Kristin Colazas Rodriguez, Colossus Bread

What started as a simple farmer’s market stall serving delectable chocolate chip cookies as well as coffee has grown into two brick-and-mortar locations. Colossus Bread (4716 Second St), founded by Kristin Colazas Rodriguez in 2018, churns out artisanal bread, masterfully crafted croissants, various patisserie as well as pizza in both Long Beach and San Pedro locations. While locals helped fuel this success, Colossus’ loaves earned national recognition in 2022 when Food & Wine magazine named it Best Bread in California. At the Long Beach shop on Second Street in Belmont Shore, you can stop in for brunch, pick up your bread for the week, and take home a bottle of natural wine.

Laurie Gray, The Pie Bar

Sonya Suon, I Luv Ur Buns

After honeymooning in Singapore and Bali, Sonya Suon and wife Mandy Bardisbanian were inspired to create a restaurant to share their passion for the street food delicacies they encountered. They launched I Luv Ur Buns (1388 Daisy Ave), which offers a menu of stuffed steamed buns (or bao) that mix Asian, Latin, and American cuisines, as well as loaded fries and even a sweet bun offering, baognets, stuffed with berries or nutella. Diners can order buns for takeout or delivery from their operation inside Daisy Diner in Long Beach’s Washington neighborhood or find them popping up at local breweries and other hotspots.

With more than a decade of experience in food service, Suon serves as the chef while Bardisbandian handles branding and social media marketing. The duo’s lighthearted approach to their business aims to bring people together over delicious foods that blend global flavors, mirroring Long Beach’s diverse blend of cultures.

Angela Mesna, District Wine

About the Author
Claire Atkinson
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