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StarChefs Q&A: 2015 Women in Culinary Leadership Grant Recipient Delilah-Amanda Lynn

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January 15, 2016

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Who runs the world? Girls! And the James Beard Foundation agrees. In 2012, they launched a program to support women in culinary leadership positions and to decrease the industry's gender imbalance. The program, Women in Culinary Leadership (WICL), offers grants to women, giving them the opportunity to learn and train with some of the country's most successful culinary leaders. 

Delilah-Amanda Lynn was one of eight recipients of the WICL grant in 2015. The program landed her with Chicago restaurant behemoth Lettuce Entertain You, where she completed her program in six months before accepting a management position at the company's Japanese concept, Ramen San. WICL helped Lynn unleash the Beyoncé-esque confidence she needs to run her own restaurant one day.

You, too, can join WICL. For the class of 2016, there are currently 22 positions available offered by 19 mentors. Applications are due by February 8, 2016.

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Below, an excerpt from StarChef's interview with grant recipient Delilah-Amanda Lynn:

StarChefs: How did you get your start in the industry?

Delilah-Amanda Lynn: When I was 15, I started working for Far West Fungi at San Francisco Farmers' Markets. They taught me a lot about the industry. I went to school for theater, but I felt something was missing. My grandparents owned restaurants when I was little—mom and pop places—and there was something about the industry that I really connected with. So, I did a few stages, and Traci Des Jardins hired me at Jardinière where I did garde manger and pastry. I moved on to catering management for Split Pea, and then bakery management at Zynga, the gaming corporation. It was great; we made everything from scratch, and they really let me have free range. My next step was working for myself. I owned a private-dining company called Little Girl Kitchen in San Francisco where I designed menus, picked locations, and organized private dinners for 12 people or less. I got a lot of private chef clients that way.​

SC: What was the most valuable skill you acquired from the WICL program?

DL: Learning how to do every job in the restaurant is really important. I can't figure out how I would've done that before I eventually open my own place, and I really want my employees now, and in the future, to respect me because I know what they do and what their job entails, and how difficult it can be. That has helped enable me to develop more respect and receive more respect. I can actually help, which helps run a better and smoother service. It was truly a life experience that I will never forget, and I will carry with me wherever I go in the future. And confidence. This program gave me the confidence I need to carry out my dream of owning my own restaurant.

SC: Do you have any advice for future applicants?

DL: Don't get sick! And be organized. Take time for yourself every once in a while; you can get really wrapped up and forget to take care of yourself. Some days I worked really early, some days really late; the schedule constantly changes. Just remember to take a breath, do some yoga, make sure you're eating healthy—it's what's going to keep you going in and learning everyday. And take a lot of notes. Even if it's just writing about the day or your feelings. It's a life-changing experience, so to have something to refer back to is really important. 

Read the full interview over at StarChefs.com. Visit our Women in Culinary Leadership page for more details. 

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The article was originally published on StarChefs.com.