At an event this week in New York City that included a panel discussion with Martha Stewart, Lidia Bastianich and other notable women in the food world, Carmen Gonzalez of Carmen at the Danforth in Portland was one of eight top-ranked chefs to be chosen for the Chefs for Women initiative, part of the Women in Culinary Leadership Program. The program is a partnership between the James Beard Foundation and Vermilion restaurants, owned by women's advocate and former World Bank economist Rohini Dey. The chefs will "showcase a signature dish throughout the year at Vermilion restaurants in Chicago and New York," with some of the proceeds going to according to a special JBF scholarship, according to a press release.
[Photo: (from left) Chef Carmen Gonzalez, Rohini Dey, chef Emily Luchetti of Farallon and Waterbar, San Fransisco. Courtesy of Sylvain Gaboury/PatrickMcMullan.com]
Vermilion Founder Rohini Dey Announces "Chefs for Women" Initiative at Women in Culinary Leadership Evening
Program Launched with Panel Discussion Featuring Martha Stewart, Lidia Bastianich, and Dorothy Cann Hamilton on September 18th
New York, NY (September 19, 2012) – Last night Rohini Dey, founder of the Indian-Latin restaurants Vermilion in New York City and Chicago, announced the launch of "Chefs for Women," a key initiative of the multi-pronged Women in Culinary Leadership Program. In partnership with the James Beard Foundation, the program's mission is to create awareness about the rarity of women in leadership roles in the culinary industry. The event featured a thought-provoking panel discussion with Martha Stewart, Lidia Bastianich, Martha Teichner, Dorothy Cann Hamilton, Susan Ungaro, and Rohini Dey as well as a five-course Indian-Latin fusion dinner.
The "Chefs for Women" program is backed by a roster of talented and highly lauded chefs across the country who will showcase a signature dish throughout the year at Vermilion restaurants in Chicago and New York. A portion of the proceeds from each dish served will go to the James Beard Foundation Vermilion Women in Culinary Leadership Scholarship, which is being initially funded with a $20,000 donation from Dey. The participating chefs announced last night include:
Michelle Bernstein, Michy's, Miami, FL
Lorena Garcia, Lorena Garcia Cocina, Miami, FL
Carmen Gonzalez, Carmen at the Danforth, Portland, ME
Anthony Lamas, Seviche, A Latin Restaurant, Louisville KY
Emily Luchetti, Farallon and Waterbar, San Francisco, CA
Douglas Rodriguez, Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia, PA
Patricio Sandoval, Mercadito, NYC
Sue Torres, Suenos, NYC
Spearheaded by former World Bank development economist turned prominent restaurateur Rohini Dey and President of the James Beard Foundation Susan Ungaro, the Women in Culinary Leadership Program is comprised of the "Chefs for Women" initiative, the James Beard Foundation Vermilion Culinary Leadership Scholarship and last night's Women in Culinary Leadership Evening.
The panel explored the gender imbalance in the food industry, celebrated the accomplishments of women in the field, and showed support for women working to succeed as chefs and restaurateurs.
The following are some highlights from the speakers at last night's panel:
Rohini Dey, Ph.D., Founder/Owner, Vermilion (NYC & Chicago):
"As a prior World Bank development economist and an advocate for women, this is about creating a collaborative opportunity for us to give back and raise the gastro-ceiling proactively. We're thrilled to be launching this program through tonight's event and look forward to the 'Chefs for Women' initiative and scholarship to continue the conversation throughout the year."
Susan Ungaro, President, James Beard Foundation:
"What people don't realize is that motherhood is a business asset. It's like an MBA for management and leadership. But let's not forget that male chefs are innately nurturers as well because the business of food is inherently a nurturing one."
Martha Stewart, Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia:
"The only mistake was that I didn't have more children. I would have a dozen if I had it to do over again.
Lidia Bastianich, Chef, Author and Restaurateur
"If women are going to succeed, they need to be financially secure. Being a woman by yourself in a restaurant is difficult."
Dorothy Hamilton, Founder and CEO, the International Culinary Center:
"There has been huge change already but it's going to take many more years. We have so many vibrant, women chefs but it takes a long time to get to the top of the heap. Why aren't there more female rising star chefs? That's a question to be asking."