The james Beard Foundation's Women in Culinary Leadership Program

From left to right: Michael White, Gail Simmons, Dana Cowin, Emily Luchetti, Rohini Dey, 2013 WICL grantee Eliza Martin, JBF president Susan Ungaro, and Kristen Kish

Women in Culinary Leadership is an accelerated, learning-by-doing mentorship program. Offered under the auspices of the James Beard Foundation, WICL gives women with a minimum of two years of professional hospitality or culinary experience the chance to work with top industry leaders and build in-depth skills in the kitchen, in restaurant management, or in both areas. Candidates will learn firsthand how to break through the culinary world’s “glass ceiling.”

For those interested in learning more about the 2017 Women in Culinary Leadership program call for entries, as well as other James Beard Foundation Women in Culinary programs, sign up for our email list. You’ll receive updates about application deadlines, events, and other program news. 


The James Beard Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2016 Women in Culinary Leadership Grant. Over sixty women with a background in hospitality and the culinary arts applied to participate in a six- or twelve-month mentor/grantee program with top industry leaders, and twenty-one have been selected.

See our 2016 WICL grant recipients and find out which industry leaders they're paired with here.


Background and History

Women in Culinary Leadership is an educational program focused on mentoring and training women aspiring to careers in the culinary industry. Conceived by JBF trustee and restaurateur Rohini Dey, the program launched in 2012.

WICL began with a panel discussion about gender imbalance in the food industry, held at Dey's Vermilion restaurant in fall of 2012. 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.

The 2012 WICL program also included the inaugural Women in Culinary Leadership Cookoff, held at Vermilion. Eight entrants submitted a resume, essay, and recipe for one contemporary Indian–Latin dish, which was prepared on-site for a panel of culinary professionals. Read more about the WICL cookoff.

Vermilion hosted a second panel on June 25, 2014. Led by Food & Wine’s Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin, the panel included Kristen Kish, Gail Simmons, Michael White, Rohini Dey, and JBF president Susan Ungaro. A four-course Indian-Latin fusion dinner, including dessert by James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef, Emily Luchetti, was served.

See our 2015 grant recipients



Open for Business/OpenTable

Open for Business/OpenTable


Miami New Times

Restaurant Hospitality

Philadelphia Business Journal

Phoenix Business Journal

JBF's Profile of Women in Culinary Leadership Grantee Eliza Martin 

The Wall Street Journal  

Super Chef 

The Village Voice  



For more information about the Women in Culinary Leadership Program​, please email Shelley Menaged.   

Photos by Ken Goodman.