The Connected Table at Sante Magazine Vol. 26 No. 03

Support Women in Food, Fine Beverage & Hospitality

2019 Les Dames d'Escoffier New York scholarship recipients


Women comprise fifty-one percent of students at the Culinary Institute of America, yet still represent less than seven percent of women-owned restaurants.

In 2020, a gender equality study conducted by The Lift Collective and The Wine Nerd revealed that nearly two out of three women believe hiring in the wine industry is biased. Nearly two out of three women respondents said they had experienced some form of harassment on the job.

In 2021, a study conducted by One Fair Wage reported that the wage gap for women overall working full-time in the restaurant industry is thirty-three percent smaller. The study, which focused primarily on tipped workers and wage inequity, also reported that women, especially women of color, make a disproportionate share of workers relying on tips to get by, leaving them at risk for poverty. Read the full report here.

Still, there are bright spots. Women are well-represented among the recently announced semi-finalists for 2022 The James Beard Foundation Awards. Female ownership or co-ownerships represents at least thirty-eight percent of California wineries according to a study released in 2021 by researchers at Santa Clara University. (

In recognition of Women’s History Month, Santé Magazine provides a list of six organizations that advocate for women in food, fine beverage, and hospitality through mentoring, networking, and education.

Les Dames d’Escoffer International

Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) is a 501c3 philanthropic organization of women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality. Membership is invitational and consists of more than 2300 members in forty-five chapters in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Mexico, and reflects the diversity, depth, and breadth of women leading and working in food, fine beverage, and hospitality.

The organization was founded in 1976, by the late food journalist and editor, Carol Brock, who was a staunch advocate for women in the industry at a time when men dominated it. Brock’s efforts to mobilize and recognize women in the industry and create a forward-thinking organization to advocate for women has touched many lives. Throughout her life, Brock remained active in the organization, always ready to weigh in with her opinion and ideas- all usually spot-on! She was a beloved leader.

Advocacy, education, and philanthropy are the main initiatives of LDEI with a focus on fostering diversity, inclusion, and collaboration within the industry. Among the many programs and events Les Dames d ’Escoffier International and its chapters spearhead, providing scholarships, grants, and mentoring for women pursuing careers in the industry is its major philanthropic effort that has touched many lives.  In 2021, Les Dames d’Escoffier New York alone awarded $79,500 in scholarships to 16 deserving women.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, chapters of Les Dames d’Escoffier International are hosting a series of virtual events focused on women in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry. Entitled “Table Talks,” the program features tastings, panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, and one-on-one interviews with industry luminaries. For information and to register for events, visit

Women of Vine and Spirits (WOTVS)

Women of the Vine & Spirits (WOTVS) is an all-encompassing global membership organization dedicated to pushing the wine, beer, and spirits industry toward and more diverse, equitable, and inclusive era that supports business development and innovation, and empowerment for all to thrive.

The organization offers year-round education, networking, mentorship, and training to foster change and progress throughout all three tiers of the beverage alcohol industry. This includes a Pledge of Commitment to End Workplace Harassment with programs focused on this important topic, and “C-Suites Insights,” a series spotlighting thought leaders and entrepreneurs in beverage alcohol.

The Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation Ltd. is a 501c3 charitable arm of WOVS that provides scholarships for the purpose of helping women advance their careers in the food, wine, spirits, and hospitality industries through education, leadership, and professional development.


Bâtonnage advocates for women working in all aspects of the wine industry with a focus on education and advocacy addressing both unique challenges and opportunities and proposing pragmatic solutions to support women in the industry now and in the future.

A highlight is the annual Bâtonnage Forum which fosters an open conversation and networking and a mentorship program.

The James Beard Foundation Women’s Leadership Programs

The James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Programs are designed to support women in all aspects of the hospitality industry through advanced, training, education, and networking for business owners in all areas of the hospitality industry.

Initiatives include the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL), a ten-week program, now in conjunction with Cornell University offering sessions on negotiating design thinking, finance, and other business modalities. Open For Good is a resource library, networking, and mentorship portal for all hospitality professionals. In 2021, The James Beard Foundation awarded eighty percent of its $314,000 scholarship funding to women.

Women in Hospitality

The nonprofit Women in Hospitality was founded in 2016 by Julia Campbell with the intention to inspire, recruit, and mentor women in the hospitality industry through special events, networking, and a mentoring program.

Lift Collective

Lift Collective is a community-centered, multi-level platform advocating for equity and inclusion in the wine industry. Activities include a two-day conference, scholarships, and community partnerships.

Since its inception, Lift Collective has awarded $21,000 in educational, entrepreneurial, and travel scholarships.

Featured photo: Les Dames d’Escoffier scholarships recipients (2019).

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An engaging speaker and writer, Melanie Young hosts the weekly national radio shows, The Connected Table Live, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality (a Feedspot Top 10 Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021), and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for and about women (both on iHeart and more than 30 other podcast platforms). Young has contributed articles on wine, spirits, food, and culinary travel to Wine Enthusiast, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine4Food and Jewish Week. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. Young’s former marketing and events agency, M Young Communications, worked with global wine, food organizations, publishing companies and nonprofits. She had an integral role in the creation, launch and management of The James Beard Foundation Awards, New York Restaurant Week, and Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund (2001) which raised funds to provide for the families of restaurant workers killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Instagram @theconnectedtable

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