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San Diego Chef Lauren Lawless is on a Mission

The self-taught, self-made chef debuts a cookbook and her own line of beers, but she's just getting started

Lauren Lawless
Image Credits Flawless Cuisine: Photo by Lesslie Severns; Lauren Lawless: photo by Amanda SanMartin

Ever find yourself engrossed in a riveting cooking-competition show and wonder what it takes to vie for supremacy in such a cutthroat arena? In the case of Lauren Lawless, the recipe is equal parts love and tenacity with a dash of blonde ambition. 

Raised in Pacific Beach, Lawless first fell in love with food at the tender age of five and took every opportunity to spend time in the kitchen. In her formative years, food would serve as a source of refuge from a challenging home life that impelled her to rely on herself. Part of that meant teaching herself to cook, first through mainstream luminaries like Julia Child and the British Two Fat Ladies cooking show, and later by working with chefs to gain professional experience while honing her own culinary style.

In 2017, Lawless made it onto Season 8 of Fox’s hit series MasterChef, where she cooked for Gordon Ramsay and placed among the top 40 contestants. It wouldn’t be her last interface with the fiery British celebrity chef. In 2021, she vied for a quarter-million dollars and the head chef position at Ramsay’s restaurant in Lake Tahoe on Season 19 of Hell’s Kitchen. This time, she cracked the top ten, and has since been featured on numerous TV programs, including several Food Network competition shows.

“Cooking is my life and I would be lost without it. I’m so grateful for the amazing opportunities I’ve had,” says Lawless. “Being on all these shows has influenced me. It’s given me a push, motivated me, and allowed me to be the best I can be.”

These days, Lawless is not only venturing to be the best she can be, she’s also pushing the envelope to be all that she can be. In addition to her successful private chef and catering business, Flawless Cuisine, she recently released her debut cookbook, Flawless Cuisine: Inspiring the World One Plate at a Time. In it, she shares dishes designed for everyday enjoyment, which are well-suited for families and the busy people who cook for them. Many of them are recipes from her youth that she has updated with her flair for seasonal ingredients and cultural fusion. 

“My goal with this book was to keep my family traditions alive as well as share new recipes I’ve incorporated over the years,” says Lawless. “Each of them has a story and I want my readers to feel that love and inspiration, one page at a time.”

The chef’s storytelling extends to her personal life in an introduction that is bold in its honesty and, at times, heart-wrenching with accounts of Lawless’ younger years living with parents who struggled with alcoholism and mental illness. It makes one appreciate her resiliency and drive to take ownership of her circumstances and her future, following her passions to create a life that’s getting better by the second.

Over the summer, Lawless launched Flawless Blonde, the first in a line of beers crafted in collaboration with Vista-based WestBrew. Designed to be flavorful and food-friendly, it will be joined by a second beer, a German-style kettle-sour ale lent Latin zing care of tangy chamoy and Tajin seasoning (chili, lime, salt). It’s a “chef beer” if ever there was one.

But that’s not all. Lawless is working to open a new restaurant which will debut locally next year. She is also developing her own line of wine, tequila, frozen dinners, and clothing designed for female chefs. So, as they say on TV, stay tuned!

Lauren Lawless
Lauren Lawless


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