Call for Applicants: 2016 Women in Culinary Leadership Grant Features 20 Top Chef Mentors from Around the Country

Call for Applicants: 2016 Women in Culinary Leadership Grant Features 20 Top Chef Mentors from Around the CountryThe James Beard Foundation (JBF) announced today that it is accepting applications for its 2016 Women in Culinary Leadership Grant program. Launched in 2012, the WICL Grant was spearheaded by Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, and Rohini Dey, JBF trustee and founder/owner of Indian-Latin Vermilion Restaurants in NYC and Chicago. The goal of the mentoring program for aspiring chefs and restaurateurs is to help build in-depth leadership and management skills in the kitchen and in restaurant management and entrepreneurship. It has grown consecutively over the last three years, and for the class of 2016 there are currently 22 positions available offered by 19 mentors.


“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 as chefs or restaurateurs,” said Ungaro. “Women make up less than 7% of the head chef positions in the culinary industry; our Foundation strives to reverse this statistic with the Women in Culinary Leadership program, which has already successfully graduated six grantees from our class of 2014-2015.”


“The WICL Grant was created to break through the barriers of what I call the ‘gastro ceiling’ – a paucity of women as executive chefs and even fewer as leading restaurateurs,” added Dey. “This program is about building women’s operational skills, financial literacy, confidence and networks in the field. We started with one grantee at Vermilion, building it to seven positions 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.”


Women with a background in hospitality or the culinary arts are encouraged to apply for a chance to participate across eighteen six-month or three twelve-month mentor/grantee programs with top industry leaders. The deadline to apply is January 20, 2016, and candidates will be expected to start their grant program by June 1, 2016.


Candidates may apply for programs led by the following 2016 mentors:


  1. Kim Bartmann – Barbette, The Third Bird, Gigi’s Café, Pat’s Tap, Red Stag Supper Club, Tiny Diner, Minneapolis, (one year position)
  2. John Besh  – Besh Restaurant Group, New Orleans:
  3. Elizabeth Blau – Elizabeth Blau & Associates, Las Vegas: (offering two positions)
  4. April Bloomfield  – Spotted Pig, John Dory Oyster Bar, The Breslin, NYC:, (one year position in each restaurant)
  5. Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz– Boka Restaurant Group, Chicago:
  6. Kevin Brown – LEYE, Chicago:
  7. Lee Chizmar and Erin Shea – Bolete, Bethlehem, PA:
  8. Rohini Dey – Vermilion Restaurants, Chicago: (one year position)
  9. Tom Douglas  – Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle:  (one year position)
  10. Paul Fehribach –  Big Jones, Chicago:
  11. Sam Fox – Fox Restaurant Concepts, Phoenix:
  12. Linton Hopkins  – Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta:
  13. Cindy Hutson  – Ortanique Restaurants, Miami:
  14. Beth Gruitch and Jennifer Jasinski – Rioja, a Crafted Concept Restaurant, Denver:
  15. Matt Jennings – Townsman, Boston:
  16. Ti Adelaide Martin – Commander’s Palace, New Orleans:
  17. Cindy Pawlcyn  – Mustards Grill, Napa, CA:
  18. Sarah Robbins – 21c Museum Hotels: Metropole, Cincinnati, OH; Lockbox, Lexington, KY; Proof on Main, Louisville, KY:21cmuseumhotels/
  19. Stephen Starr  –  STARR Restaurants, Philadelphia:


Eight female chefs have received the Women in Culinary Leadership Grant to date, and of the six who have graduated all have received job offers from their mentors. Recipients have trained and worked in various positions, including the kitchen line, inventory, sourcing, cost control, new menu development, marketing and promotion, event planning, catering, floor management, and more.


Alexandra Hare, 2015 Women in Culinary Leadership Grantee states, “By going through these past six months of WICL training, and seeing not only that I can do this, but learning from the 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.”


Arranged mentorships must be taken at times mutually agreed upon by the applicant and hosts. All mentorships must be completed within one year after they are awarded. Grantees will receive a stipend of $500 per week for living expenses. In addition, select grantees will have the opportunity to work alongside guest chefs cooking at the historic James Beard House for one week.


Applicants must be at least 21years of age, and have at least two years of experience in the hospitality industry. Deadline for submissions is January 20, 2016. For more information about how to apply, please visit: