Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) invites you to “Imagine your Dreams and Ignite the Future” at its 23rd Annual Conference in Los Angeles, the City of Angels and the Land of Dreams. From its inception in San Francisco in 1992, WCR has supported women in food as they have imagined and realized their dreams. WCR’s 2016 LA Conference will expand worlds by offering two days of enriching presentations from, and delicious food prepared by, renowned women chefs, restaurateurs, celebrities, designers, authors, educators, developers, artisans, and other women in the industry.

The Chef’s Roll LA City Ambassador interviewed Barbara Lazaroff , co-founder of Spago and one of the founders of WCR to learn more about this year’s conference. We have compiled excerpts from the full interview:

barbara lazaroff
Barbara Lazaroff

The conference is in Los Angeles this year, what can we expect?

Sherry Yard, who’s been a huge supporter and organizer for many years, has put together a star-studded list of people for the opening breakfast and for the Women That Inspire award ceremony.  This year it’s very exciting, because we’re doing all of Los Angeles. We’re giving people a feel for what Los Angeles is all about from the beach to Hollywood, all the way to downtown, which just has been exploding for the last 10 years.

Is there any new talent that you’re excited to meet at this year’s conference?

Yes, there’s a lot of new talent. I’ve never met Mei Lin, I’ve actually never met Brooke Williamson, I think maybe once I might have met Nyesha Arrington. Have you looked at the chef lineup?

I have…some friends own a company called The Fare Trade, which does these culinary boxes, and Nyesha just did a box with them. She also just won best chef in LA from Eater Magazine and had a great video come out where she talked about her dream of owning a restaurant. I’m excited to see her and see what she has to say.

That’s the point again. If you’ve got chefs and they’re interested in owning a business or making multiple businesses, there are so many other things they need to understand and know. And of course, a lot of them think they know it already. So many restaurants fail in the first year and it’s not because the food is awful, it is because of poor management.

You are on the panel discussion “What your PR team should do for you”, can you give us a little taste?

I think what people have come to know over the last number of years, it’s no big secret, that these celebrity chefs, whether they have establishments of their own or not, getting on a TV show is extraordinary. Obviously, your social media is pumped up completely, you’re able to get a Twitter following, an Instagram following, Snapchat following, your Facebook following, whatever that might be, it benefits your business and it helps your image. But in addition to that, if you don’t have that, I think it’s very important to pay attention to your social media. I think it’s the wave of the future. I do think articles and print are important, they do have impact, I think that networking is very important. So when you’re saying what your PR team could do for you, they can network you with other people. They can pair you off. What we tried to foster with Women Chefs and Restaurateurs is the sense of camaraderie and the sense of community.

Is there one thing you want to highlight about the conference this year?

I want people to know what the Grub Crawl is: you can go through Hollywood, you can go downtown, the central market, and Sherry said the Clifton Cafeteria is amazing. Also, I’m going to get permission from our group, we’re going to take people over to Hollywood and Highland where our Wolfgang Puck Catering does the governor’s ball for the Oscars. But what I really want people to know is that the conference is one of great adventure, discovery, it’s fun, it’s inspiring, it’s educational, it’s supportive, it’s really about- it’s the antithesis of what people want to say about women always trying to compete. This is about women being there for each other, within an extraordinarily difficult, but rewarding profession on so many levels. And why join? Because you might be able to foster another individual because of a scholarship program, and why join? Because you’re going to have a crapload of fun. Maybe you don’t want to say crapload…

No, we can say crapload, that would work.

A basket load of fun…

To have a basket load of fun and experience two days of amazing networking, learning, and eating, register here.