Women in Culinary Leadership Program
From left to right: Alison Settle; Raechal Maat; Goldie Radojevich; Guddia Singh; Eliza Martin; Shirel Berger; Elizabeth Kozemchak; Claire Veligdan; JBF's manager of student programs Shelley Menaged
On February 26, 2013, the James Beard Foundation and Vermilion held the Women in Culinary Leadership Cookoff. The two-hour competition was part of the multi-pronged Women in Culinary Leadership Program, which is spearheaded by Rohini Dey, founder and owner of Vermilion restaurants, and Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. The initiative seeks to examine the role of women in leadership positions in the culinary industry. At the kickoff program at Vermilion last fall, a thought-provoking panel discussion explored gender imbalance in the food industry. Moderated by Emmy and James Beard Award winner Martha Teichner of CBS News, the panel featured Martha Stewart; chef and author Lidia Bastianich; founder and CEO of the French Culinary Institute's Dorothy Cann Hamilton; Ms. Dey; and Ms. Ungaro.
As part of the James Beard Foundation Vermilion Women in Culinary Leadership Program, the Women in Culinary Leadership Cookoff was created to identify ambitious female chefs and restaurateurs and help them develop their leadership and culinary skills. Entrants had to submit a resume, essay, and recipe for one contemporary Indian–Latin dish. Eight finalists participated in the Cookoff at Vermilion restaurant in New York City. At the end of the two-hour competition, Elizabeth Kozemchak and Raechal Maat were named the winners. Each will receive a $500/week grant, along with a one-year apprenticeship at Vermilion’s locations in New York City and Chicago. They will also spend one week training at the historic James Beard House, where guest chefs prepare one-of-kind dinners on more than 200 nights each year.
Photos by Joan Garvin