The Importance of Culinary Trade Organizations for Women
Female chefs remain a bit of a rarity in the culinary world.
Although the number of women in culinary school is fairly high (50 percent, as compared to a mere 5 to 10 percent in the 1980s), there is still a glaring difference in the number of women moving up the ranks in restaurants and commercial kitchens. In fact, some statistics place the number of female executive chefs at a very low 4.3 percent for the entire United States.
That's why chef trade organizations that highlight and promote women are such an important part of the culinary world. Providing a place where female chefs and restaurateurs can network and advance their professional opportunities, female chef organizations are a counter to the Good Old Boys Clubs that so often exist in the modern-day culinary world.
And although there are dozens of reputable organizations, we're going to highlight two of the most well known.
New York Women's Culinary Alliance
According to the website, the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance is “an organization of professional women in the food and wine industry, dedicated to encouraging cooperation, networking, and education among its members.”
Created primarily for women in the Tri-State area, it is open to professionals at various levels in their careers and who work in a variety of different cuisine types.
One of the biggest programs the New York Women's Culinary Alliance participates in is in creating community outreach to educate both adults and children in New York about good health and nutrition. Additional activities include food and wine tastings, regular workshops, and business seminars.
Women Chefs & Restaurateurs
Women Chefs & Restaurateurs is probably the largest and most well-known female-centered culinary trade organization. Their mission, to “promote and enhance the education, advancement and connection of women in the culinary industry,” is backed by an incredible history of providing scholarships for female culinary students and by having over 2,000 members nationwide, many of whom have their roots in top-tier culinary organizations.
The organization offers membership in a variety of different categories, including:
- Beginning Restaurant Professional
- Culinary Professional
- Executive Member
- Friend of WCR
- Small Business Member
- Corporate Membership
Depending on what type of member you are, you are eligible for culinary scholarships, culinary internships, nomination for the annual Women Who Inspire Awards, and a national conference that offers cooking classes, presentations, panel talks, culinary tours, and a mini trade show.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.