With her signature combination of energetic spirit and culinary creativity, Chef Brigitte Bledsoe has blazed a trail as an acclaimed breakfast and brunch innovator. As the corporate executive chef of Miss Shirley’s Café, a 3-unit chain of restaurants in Maryland, Bledsoe wows taste buds with bold twists on traditional breakfast and brunch fare.

As episode 4 of Living Proof recounts, Chef Bledsoe started her career in male-dominated environments where she challenged the status quo. Despite resistance from male chefs who resented her drive and ambition, she persevered and developed her trademark culinary style of flavorful fusions.

Outspoken and “out,” Chef Bledsoe was determined to forge her own path and take breakfast and brunch to a new level when she arrived at Miss Shirley’s Café in 2005. She speaks proudly about her identity as a chef who is also a gay woman. “I was out when I started Miss Shirley’s,” she tells Living Proof host Jon Ashton. “I never thought anything of it. This is who I am.” Her drive to succeed on her own terms and her passion for food and people were instrumental in transforming the original Miss Shirley’s from a humble breakfast spot into a gustatory landmark.

Heritage and Humility

Inspired by her mother’s love of cooking, Chef Bledsoe grew up in Baltimore, where she was exposed to classic Southern dishes and developed her preoccupation with all things culinary.  With an emphasis on fresh regional and seasonal ingredients and ingenious seafood applications, she has become renowned for such daring and delicious dishes as Coconut Cream-Stuffed French Toast (her wife’s favorite, which she made for her on their first date), Crab Cake and Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict, and Shrimp and Grits.

Beloved by her staff and customers alike, Chef Bledsoe believes “it takes a team” to reach the level of success Miss Shirley’s Café has achieved. She relishes not only creating, but serving the food that has earned her the reputation as the “best breakfast chef in America.”

Recognized for her culinary contributions by Baltimore MagazineThe New York TimesThe Boston Globe, and Food Network Magazine, Chef Bledsoe stresses the importance of hard work, determination, and self-confidence, regardless of setbacks and adversity. Her advice to the next generation of chefs: “Don’t ever give up” and “follow your heart.”

Groundbreaker. Role model. Culinary adventurer. Chef Bledsoe stands tall as another testament to the power of perseverance in the Living Proof video series of chef profiles.