Gender Relations & Leadership: Outlook of the Future of the Food & Bev Industry

On this podcast recorded at Fodoable.io in Seattle, our host Yareli Quintana speaks with three leaders in the foodservice and beverage industry who also happen to be women. The conversation begins by each identifying some of the changes they’ve seen happen in their respected industries throughout the years.

First, you’ll hear from Zoi Antonitsas, executive chef of Little Fish, Seattle’s first modern-day craft cannery and restaurant which will be found in the heart of Pike Place Market once it opens. Chef Antonitsas has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry and says she’s been fortunate to have worked with incredible men and women up and down the West Coast.

“I’ve never really felt like I’ve ever been discriminated against as far as being a woman, with the exception of a few, I would say, financial question marks…,” says Antonitsas. “There have definitely been a couple of times where I’ve had to fight to get financial compensation for my work, where I know for a fact that some male counterparts have received more money without having to ask.”

Then, you’ll hear from Brenda Lobbato, the Northwest Region Vice President at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. She got into the beverage industry 30 years ago and has been in her current role since 2016, where she manages 26 percent of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ revenue totaling to $698M. Lobbato shares with the speakers that she’s recently seeing a lot more women getting into the beverage industry, which, for a long time, has been a “good ol’ boys network.” She’s proud to share that she’s helping spearhead a women’s group within Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

“We have this thing we call Women of  Wine... we call ourselves WOW and so we started this WOW organization from the standpoint of having concerns that affect all employees, but that women are bringing forward,” says Lobbato. “So, if that’s a mentoring program or that’s a skills program, like public speaking or financial acumen, whatever that is… it’s making those topics and resources safe to talk about.”

Throughout the podcast, you’ll also hear from Roz Edison, co-founder of Marination Ma Kai, a food truck turned into brick-and-mortar locations serving up Hawaiian-Korean fusion cuisine across Seattle. Ten years ago, Marination Ma Kai’s food truck was “the first on 10 rolling in the streets of Seattle.” That number has grown tremendously since then and now Edison and her business partner are also established entrepreneurs in the fast casual space.

“Sadly, though, I just came from a 3-day conference from my industry. It’s called the Fast Casual Executive Summit, so about 150 to 300 C-level folks from chains that range from 50 to 800 units. Almost every single panel had 100 percent white, male panelists…,” says Edison. “...I had really hoped I would run into a female CEO or a female director of operations. That, I’m not seeing in the fast-casual side of it.”

The four speakers later dive into topics like employee relations, mentorship, and hopes for the future of the industry as it pertains to women. Stay tuned to hear which direction this interesting conversation took and how each panelist feels about each topic discussed!

Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc Differentiates Itself from the Rest In the Category

On this episode of On Foodable filmed at Foodable.io Seattle sponsored by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, we get to learn a little from Rob Bigelow, Senior Director of Wine Education and On Premise Development at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, about a New Zealand winery—Villa Maria Wine Estate—that the company is in partnership with.

“When I think about New Zealand and the wines, obviously the first answer is Sauvignon Blanc,” says Bigelow.
Some of the characteristics of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which make up two-thirds to three-quarters of all the vineyards in the region, are: “... crisp, aromatic, lovely, perfect with seafood,” as mentioned by Bigelow.

The wine that is featured in this episode is the Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, which is top rated at 90 points.

“The Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc has a sort of a broader mid-palate which means it’s lusher on the palette more sort of melon, floral aromas…,” says Bigelow. The grapes are actually sourced from a combination of two valleys in the Marlborough region, which helps provide maximum flavor, balance, and quality to the wine.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is a collection of distinctive wines estates, located in the Pacific Northwest, California, and abroad. The company provides administrative and financial support for each wine property it does business with. Ste. Michelle’s company philosophy is to allow each wine estate/vineyard to have all wine-making decisions “made on site by the people who grow the grapes and make the wine” as stated in the company website.

Villa Maria Wine Estates, for example, is a family-owned winery located in Marlborough island and is recognized as New Zealand’s most awarded winery thanks to its winemaker being fanatical about quality. The winery focuses on low yields and discards all imperfect grapes.

Watch the episode above to learn more about Villa Maria Wine Estates and its sustainability efforts!