This learning-by-doing mentorship program, offered to aspiring chefs and restaurateurs, aims to close the gender imbalance gap in foodservice through motivated development in leadership, management, kitchen and entrepreneurship skills. Launched in 2012 with JBF trustee and restaurateur Rohini Dey and JBF President Susan Ungaro at the helm, it has seen incredible growth in the last three years.
“Thanks to the top industry leaders who have signed on to fund and mentor these talented women, we are paving the way for each grant recipient to achieve the success they deserve…” Ungaro said in a press release. “Women make up less than 7 percent of the head chef positions in the culinary industry. Our foundation strives to reverse this statistic with the Women in Leadership program, which has already successfully graduated six grantees from our class of 2014-2015.”
The class of 2016 boasts 22 available positions by 19 top chef mentors nationwide. Mentors include Michelin-Star-award-winning chef April Bloomfield and Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz of the Boka Restaurant Group. Grant recipients will train in areas ranging from kitchen line, menu development, marketing, sourcing and more.
“We started with one grantee at Vermilion, building it to seven last year, and now it has grown in our third year to 19 eminent restaurant groups. Mentors are not only sponsoring our WICL grantees, but are taking them into their organizations to train them and build their skills,” Dey said.
Women who are at least 21 years old and who have at least a two-year background in hospitality or the culinary arts are encouraged to apply for these grants, which could last anywhere from six months to a year. More information can be found here.
“By going through these past six months of WICL training, and seeing not only that I can do this, but learning from people who already do, I am actually building towards achieving the goals I’ve set for myself. This program has been the start of something great, which means I have to keep pushing — something I feel like I’m finally prepared for,” Alexandra Hare, a previous grantee, said.