At the James Beard Foundation, we strive to uplift and celebrate the innumerable contributions of women in the culinary field. Committed to advancing women in the industry, our Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership program (WEL), presented by Audi, was created to support women at any stage of their career, from established culinary figures to budding leaders of the future, and provide them with the tools and opportunity to succeed.
Entering into Women’s History Month, we continue to pay homage to the women who have made history while paving a way for those who have yet to come. Yet, there is still work to be done. Women only make up 19 percent of head cooks/executive chefs in America. And despite comprising more than half of all culinary school graduates, only 33% of restaurant businesses are majority owned by women. And culturally, the restaurant industry has notoriously been seen as a boys club, overemphasizing the contributions of men while allowing few women within its ranks.
“For me, the best way to support other women in this industry is to believe that there’s room at the table for all of us,” says 2018 WEL alum Katy Gerdes of Angel Food Bakery. Breaking the cycle by investing and providing women with the tools to succeed is a practice that will benefit everyone.
“Paying it forward would be a huge benefit to women in our industry,” says chef Jennifer Hill Booker. “Teaching financial literacy, networking, and sharing information would help all women advance faster and more efficiently than going it alone. It takes a village.”
Through our programs, we hope to influence a better, more equitable food, restaurant, and hospitality field where women are encouraged to grow and thrive at the helm. Because when women lead, we all win.
Our new cookbook, A Place at the Table, in collaboration with Audi, honors the talents of women in our restaurant industry. This digital cookbook features 20 recipes from the alums of our Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program, including Katie Button, Tracy Chang, Daniella Senior, and more. The cookbook also houses a directory of over 70 women-led, -owned, and -operated establishments across the country including bars, catering companies, and restaurants.