Women have always played a significant role in the food and dining industry — but finally you are noticing them. On Saturday, May 12th, Hedley & Bennett Headquarters (owned and operated by business woman extraordinaire Ellen Bennett) hosted the LA Time Food Bowl event, Forces in Food. Guests enjoyed two panels discussing the community of women chefs/restaurateurs in LA and female empowerment through media. Fierce female talent in Los Angeles and Southern California were present. Panelists included Nyesha Arrington, Tiffani Thiessen, Sarah Hymanson, Sara Kramer, Emily Fiffer, Briana Valdez and Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins. Snacks were provided by local female run businesses and by Chefs Aarti Sequeira of the Food Network and Dakota Weiss of Sweetfin. The panels were moderated by LA Times Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter and Ellen Bennett.
The first panel began and I was riveted — hearing the stories of how these women made the tough decisions to go for their dreams of opening restaurants no matter the price, no matter the obstacles and no matter the “Nos”, was inspiring. Seeing the success they are now enjoying warmed me, but what thrilled me even more was learning about the community of supportive women in the LA food scene. These women explained how they always had someone to call if they were in a bind or they needed to talk about something happening with their business. How refreshing. The world should be paying attention to the women of LA — they are building an army of kitchens and they are prepared to win you over, not just because they are women, but because they are talented.
The second panel shifted to conversations around social media and how women can launch their businesses with these easily accessible tools. The main point being - you have to be comfortable with who you are and define your brand! For women, especially those in the public eye, social media is a way to show all sides of your personality, not just what people read about you online. Tiffani Thiessen, yes Kelly Kapowski of Saved by the Bell, wanted her fans to know that she was more than an actress, she was truly passionate about food and cooking. She has been able to express that side of herself easily through social media.
To hear women in food speaking on these topics from their point of view was reassuring. It was like, hey - we are powerful, we can accomplish great things, especially when we support each other. No offense to men at all, there are some truly great male chefs and restaurateurs here in LA, but hearing an all female chorus of voices was pretty freaking cool!
After the panels I got to catch up with Tiffani about her new cookbook coming out this Fall — Pull up a Chair! Watch the interview below!
The LA Times Food Bowl is still in full swing until May 31st, so be sure to check out their site for more great food events.