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Working to Develop Women in Culinary Leadership

Monday, June 16, 2014  
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Calling all aspiring women leaders in the restaurant industry and those who'd like to mentor our next generation, on June 25th, the James Beard Foundation and At Vermilion will be hosting an All-Star Dinner and Panel Discussion with support from the NYS Restaurant Association to promote the Women in Culinary Leadership Education Training Program (WICL).

This is a can't miss evening filled with spirited discussion and fabulous indian-latin cuisine.

“Women are far from prevalent in the culinary industry, and it’s an issue we plan to address directly,” said Rohini Dey, Founder of the Indian-Latin restaurants Vermilion in New York City and Chicago and Co-Founder of the WICL program. “At the Women in Culinary Leadership Evening, five prominent culinary leaders will go well beyond platitudes to examine if the glass ceiling in the culinary world is any different from elsewhere. We will also explore ways to create more culinary leadership opportunities for women.” 

The evening is $110 for cocktails, panel, and a four course dinner; vegetarian option offered. Prepaid reservations are necessary and can be made by calling Vermilion at 212-871-6600 or emailing

Formed in 2012 through a partnership between the James Beard Foundation and At Vermilion restaurant, the WICL is a new initiative aimed to help women in the hospitality and restaurant industry develop the confidence and skill-set necessary to become a leader in the industry as a restaurateur or executive chef.

“James Beard was always a big supporter of women,” said Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation and Co-Founder of the WICL program. “Many of those he mentored and championed went on to change the way Americans cook and think about food, including such luminaries as Julia Child, Alice Waters, Barbara Kafka, and Gael Greene.”

Unlike any current continuing education courses, the WICL education training program builds an accelerated foundation for aspiring women leaders across multiple aspects of both running and owning restaurants - including all sections across the kitchen, roles of an executive chef, a general manager and an restaurateur. Trainee tasks have included everything from leading the kitchen staff and managing front of house employees to controlling inventory / purchasing, overseeing finances, and developing business plans.

The program, though still in its infancy, has continued to evolve. For the 2015 class, trainees will be able to choose between a 6 month program focused either on a culinary or management track as well as an option to pursue both in a 1 year program.

Selection criteria and deadlines for 2015 WICL program will be posted soon. Interested in applying now as a trainee to the 2015 program? Submit your resume!

The James Beard Foundation and Vermilion deliberately started small to develop and test this program with their WICL grantee. They now aspire to roll out this model to at least 10-15 trainees for the 2015 class, with hopes of even more if they can confirm enough mentors and sponsors.The WICL education training program is a paid grant program funded by the mentoring organizations. Interested in becoming a mentor or sponsoring host? Contact Rohini Dey at

For media releases, more information on the WICL program, press, or to apply go to

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