Donia Bijan is a San Francisco Bay Area chef who left Iran in 1978 during the Islamic Revolution that threatened the life of her mother, an outspoken women’s rights advocate.
After graduating from UC Berkeley, Donia went to Paris to attend the Cordon Bleu. Determined to pursue a culinary career, she secured apprenticeships in France’s three-star kitchens before returning to San Francisco to preside over many of the city’s acclaimed restaurants. At twenty-seven she became the executive chef of The Sherman House, the esteemed luxury hotel, where she earned awards for her French inspired cuisine. In 1994, she realized her dream of opening her own restaurant, L’Amie Donia, a celebrated French bistro in Palo Alto, California.
Since closing her restaurant, Ms. Bijan has divided her days between writing and teaching. Her memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie, published in 2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, reimagines her passion for cooking as a vessel to travel back and forth between the kitchens of her childhood and the formal kitchens of her training, illuminating the experience of exile, and drawing from her Persian, French, and American pantry to thread ties between cultures. Her debut novel, Café Leila, the story of a daughter’s return to her childhood home, will be released in 2017.
Ms. Bijan lives in Northern California with her husband, the painter Mitchell Johnson, and their son.