Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) invites you to “Join Us At The Table. Eat, Drink, & LEAD” at its 24th Annual Conference May 6-8th 2017 in Seattle, WA. From its inception in San Francisco in 1992, WCR has supported and encouraged women in food to learn and grow . WCR’s 2017 Seattle Conference will continue to unite and connect women in the industry by offering two days of enriching presentations from, and delicious food prepared by, renowned female chefs, restaurateurs, celebrities, designers, authors, educators, developers, artisans, and other women in the industry.
Chef’s Roll interviewed Alicia Boada, WCR President and Barry Callebaut West Coast Technical Advisor, to learn more about this year’s conference.
WCR Conference will be held in Seattle this year, what can we expect?
This year’s theme, “Join Us At The Table. Eat, Drink, & LEAD,” encourages the culinary community to join together and tackle the issues that affect females in the industry. This year, it was also important to recognize our new host city and the group of intimately connected chefs, restaurant owners, wine makers, baristas and farmers who all represent a food culture that many cities envy, so you can expect the local talent to be very well represented. For example, the opening speeches will come from James Beard Award Winner Chef Maria Hines, known for her diverse Seattle-based concepts, and Veena Prasad, Founder & Executive Director of Project Feast, an award-winning nonprofit that has empowered refugee and immigrant cooks to be a part of the Seattle culinary community. The conference closing ceremony, which is open to the public via online ticket sales, celebrates the city’s dedication to aquaculture with this year’s theme “SEAttle to Table”, hosted at the Seattle Aquarium. The featured chefs will all be from the Pacific Northwest and have created food and drink that represents Seattle’s commitment to sustainable aquaculture.
Is there someone in the lineup/attending that you’re excited to meet at this year’s conference?
We’ll be hosting representatives from the UN 50/50 by 2030 initiative and we are excited to help their ambassadors understand how the culinary community fits into the larger mission of attaining equal by for women by 2030. I’m looking forward to speaking with them and having other women attending, voice their valuable opinions as well.
This will be the 24th WCR Conference, how has the conference evolved over the years?
The conference was born as an opportunity for women to meet business people such as bankers and money lenders so they could connect with potential resources while seeking to open a restaurant, bakery or other hospitality business. It has now evolved into the event you see today with valuable educational experiences, mentorship for the next generation, and inspiration for everyone involved.
“The WCR conference excels at covering all aspects of the food and hospitality industry: master classes and speakers; camaraderie and memorable conversation; insight into industry innovation. It celebrates and validates the strength and success of women in our profession. I come away feeling re-energized and this, in turn, I take into the classroom with new intention and a fresh perspective.”
– Sue McWilliams, Chef Instructor | Montgomery County, MD
You are the current WCR Board President; past WCR Board Presidents have been Chef Ruth Gresser and Chef Elizabeth Falkner along with other amazing female chefs. What is your biggest mission being the current WCR President?
My goal was to grow the organization so that more women could benefit from the support we give. Our membership skyrocketed this year by almost 300% and our social media reach has gone from about 7.5k to almost 20k viewers. My hope was for the inspiration, encouragement, scholarship, and promotion we give to women in food to grow. Over the last year we’ve made some enormous strides in having WCR reach a larger audience.
For the past few years’ women have had a stronger voice and broken barriers. How has this impacted female Chefs in the culinary industry?
Female Chefs are still fighting for equality within the industry. The progress that has been made in giving women more forums to share their stories is certainly wonderful, but it’s a continuing battle. We think this forward movement has allowed people to think about females in the kitchen as just chefs, not “women” chefs, and that WCR will continue to help forward that cause.
Is there one thing you want to highlight about the conference this year?
The WCR Food Games, which is open and completely free for the public to attend, pits three celebrity chef coaches and teams against each other through three rounds of secret ingredient-driven, head-to-head challenges, should be amazing! We’re lucky to have Chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Maria Hines’ emceeing, and their background in TV competitions including Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters will definitely come in handy.
For more information on WCR Women Chefs and Restaurateurs 2017 National Conference and to experience two days of amazing networking, learning, and eating, register here. Don’t forget to use the Chef’s Roll special discount code: WCRCRPROMO.