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Women Chefs & Restaurateurs Conference Cooks Up Empowerment in Century City

Renowned chefs, television personalities, authors, restaurateurs and culinary experts join us each year to share their knowledge and experience during the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs national conference. Courtesy image.
Renowned chefs, television personalities, authors, restaurateurs and culinary experts meet each year to share their knowledge and experience during the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs national conference. Courtesy image.

When the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) organization began in 1993, its founding mothers thirsted for a resource to provide females in the food industry with scholarships, mentors, and networking opportunities. So they created one themselves.

The nonprofit’s annual conference – which takes place April 17 and 18 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City – will stick to the WCR’s original message, exploring topics and issues most relevant to women in hospitality.

This year’s theme, “Imagine Your Dreams and Ignite the Future,” will offer invaluable strategies for women to develop their hospitality careers and maximize opportunities, according to event organizers, and will cover a range of topics including social media, artisanal milling, GMOs, equal pay, advances in kitchen technology, and more.

There will also be cooking competitions, an all-woman food truck invasion, and talent talks from top industry leaders including James Beard Award winner Bricia Lopez; Guckenheimer’s Chief Innovation Officer, Helen Kennen; and Google’s Executive Pastry Chef, Pauline Lam.

The kick-off opening night party will be held at the Santa Monica Annenberg Beach House.

Susan Feniger, one of the chefs and owners of Santa Monica Border Grill, will be among those participating in conference. Renowned chef Nancy Silverton, James Beard winner, will judge the Food Games contest. Food Network’s Waylynn Lucas and Ron Ben-Israel will host the “Women Who Inspire” awards gala at Paramount Pictures Studios on the New York Street backlot.

Century City News spoke to participating chefs about the upcoming program and how to get ahead as a woman in the culinary field.

What is the biggest obstacle for women in the food industry today? 

“The biggest obstacle is LIFE Balance. About a year ago we surveyed our WCR Community and received an overwhelming number of inquiries regarding wanting to know how to juggle it all: family, career, friends, health and fitness, social life. Our response to this request – attend the WCR National Conference Sunday, April 17 at the InterContinental Los Angeles and find out!” – Alicia Boada, vice president of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, and West Coast Technical Advisor for Brand Sales Development of Callebaut, Cacao Barry, & Carma

What is your go-to advice for aspiring chefs and restaurateurs?

“My advice would be to travel as much as you can. Along with eating, get inspired by art around the world, take cooking classes, go to food markets, and experience as much as you can! That’s what I do, every chance I get.” – Akasha Richmond, chef and owner of Akasha Restaurant

What are some advantages or disadvantages of working in the industry in Los Angeles as a woman? 

“Coming up in this industry in Los Angeles definitely had its advantages and disadvantages. I feel that I had to work harder and push harder to prove myself to each chef and in each kitchen I worked in. At the same time, being a female cook/chef made me stand out more from the crowd, which brought more opportunities as well. I feel like things are very different today, though. The industry is changing and there are many more opportunities for women to thrive than there used to be.” – Megan Logan, executive chef of Café Pinot

Why is this annual conference important to you? 

“The Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Conference is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the potent and unique mix of talents within the ever growing community of female chefs.” – Valerie Gordon, chef and owner of Valerie Confections

For more information, pricing, and to purchase tickets to attend the WCR 22nd Annual National Conference, visit www.womenchefs.org.

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