Thank you for your interest in applying to the 2018 class of the James Beard Foundation's Women in Culinary Leadership Program (WCL)! The application process has ended. Please sign up for our newsletter to learn about other educational opportunities.

Women in Culinary Leadership (WCL), is a nine-month accelerated, learning-by-doing mentorship program. The program includes a week working at the celebrated James Beard House with some of the finest chefs in the country.

The 2018 program offers either back of house (BoH) or front of house (FoH) training for a nine-month period with the mentors* listed below. Mentees will receive a weekly salary of $600 paid by the mentor for a 40-50 hour work week. Monthly written prompts and conference calls with the JBF team will provide guidance through the program and maximize the experience for each mentee.

If selected for the first round interview, it will take place via phone, Facetime, or Skype. Applicants selected for a second interview are financially responsible for travel and accommodations, if an in-person interview is requested. Mentees are responsible for any associated relocation expenses should they request and be selected for an opportunity in a city where they are not presently living.

There is an opportunity for program mentees to spend one week in New York City staging at the James Beard House kitchen assisting guest chefs. Further information will be provided to the WCL class of 2018. Travel and accommodations are paid for by the James Beard Foundation for this one week, while salary will continue from the mentor's organization. 

This year's mentors include:

José Andrés, Think Food Group, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas, BoH and FoH

Elizabeth Blau, Blau & Associates, Las Vegas, BoH and FoH  

Kevin Boehm, BOKA Restaurant Group, Chicago, BoH and FoH

Kevin Brown, Lettuce Entertain You® Restaurants, Chicago, FoH

Rohini Dey, PhD, WCL Founder, Vermilion, Chicago, BoH and FoH

Lauren DeSteno, Altamarea Group, New York City, BoH

Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle, BoH

Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago, BoH

Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Border Grill, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles BoH

Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia, One Off Hospitality, Chicago, BoH

Ti Adelaide Martin, Commander's Palace, New Orleans, FoH

Sarah Robbins, 21c Museum Hotels, Louisville; BoH

Stephen Starr, STARR Restaurants, New York City or Philadelphia, BoH

Applicants for the WCL program must be:

  • 21 years of age or older
  • A legal resident or citizen of the United States
  • An individual who identifies as a female with at least two years experience in the hospitality industry; in the kitchen, dining room, and/or office
  • At the beginning of your culinary career

Program Dates:

  • April 28: application window closes.
  • May-June: mentors contact potential mentees for initial phone interview.        
  • June-July: mentors and selected candidates plan a face-to-face interview and/or trial stage**. 
  • August 31: selected mentees must start working with their mentors no later than this date.**


*The mentors may or may not be your main contact during the course of the program. Mentees should expect to meet the mentor several times, but your day to day point person(s) will most probably be your Chef, General Manager, Director of Operations, and or Human Resources Manager. Each of these people contributes greatly to the success of the mentor's organization and will be working closely with you to create a successful program for you as well.

**Candidates will be responsible for all travel and housing expenses.

The James Beard Foundation thanks our esteemed Mentors for their tremendous contributions to the program including:

  • Mentee compensation
  • Participation in ongoing Mentor /Mentee/JBF status meetings
  • Support for JBF Administration expenses

Please contact impact program manager Emily Rothkrug at with questions regarding the WCL Program and application.