Formed in 1993 by Barbara Tropp and Joyce GoldsteinWomen Chefs & Restaurateurs was created with a vision to support the education and recognition of women in the hospitality industry. Alongside pioneering female chefs and restaurateurs; Barbara Lazaroff, Anne Rosenzweig, Mary Sue Milliken, Lidia Bastianich, Elka Gilmore and Johanne Killeen they shaped WCR into a highly respected organization and resource that educates and connects women across the culinary world. Comprised of a diverse network of chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs, manufacturers, farmers and industry executives WCR currently boasts 4,000 members and friends in 13 groups across the U.S and Canada. Their mission is to promote the advancement and education of female chefs while helping them build a network of industry peers within the food industry. Many members credit their professional evolution to their WCR membership and its connections, which have also influenced the careers of notable chefs including TV personality and former WCR President, Elizabeth Falkner.
Current President of the Board of Directors,Ruth Gresser, chef and owner of the critically acclaimed Pizzeria Paradiso in Washington, D.C., attended her first WCR conference in New York in the early 1990s. She subsequently joined the board in 2010 before taking the reins from Falkner in April 2015. Gresser, an industry veteran, entered professional kitchens in San Francisco at the early stages of the modern American food movement before moving to D.C. in 1987. A member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, she has since been instrumental in the opening of six popular Washington restaurants and is also the author of Kitchen Workshop – Pizza.
She counts Women Chefs & Restaurateurs as a rewarding organization that has afforded her life long connections and friendships, and one which helped define herself outside the world of her own businesses. “It’s very gratifying to be a part of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs,” she says. “Individuals find a place to expand, explore and develop and that is the key to WCR – it’s just a really supportive and collaborative organization for its members”. Gresser will open proceedings with a President’s welcome speech at the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs23rd Annual National Conference in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 17 followed by WCR founder and keynote speaker Mary Sue Milliken. Hundreds of world-class hospitality professionals are expected to attend including renowned chefs and television personalities Devin Alexander and WaylynnLucas. In addition to panels and talks, a live cooking competition overseen by Elizabeth Falkner, dubbed the Food Games, will pit three teams against each other with celebrity coaches on hand including Nyesha Arrington, Brooke Williamson and Mei Lin. Held at various locations across the city attendees can also participate in workshops and offsite tours during the two-day conference.
With an aim to broaden WCR’s exposure and boost memberships, of the recent Chef’s Roll collaboration Gresser stated, “I’m so glad that our organizations will be working together.Chef’s Roll seems like an ideal partner for Women Chefs & Restaurateurs to support our mission of promoting the advancement and education of women in the food industry”.
Future plans for WCR include expansion of its annual and regional conferences, increased programming and career development with additional scholarship and internship programs, alongside work placements across the food industry. Local groups also aim to provide larger support networks and regional educational components. More information about the Women Chefs &Restaurateurs23rd National Conference can be found here.