Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Six Winners for Unique Hands-On Workplace Experiences with Women Culinary Professionals

Supported by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy & the Culinary Arts

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Six Winners for Unique Hands-On Workplace Experiences with Women Culinary ProfessionalsSix professional women were chosen as this year’s LDEI Legacy Award recipients to be mentored by some of America’s leading female talent in food, beverage and hospitality—all distinguished members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI).  Chosen from the US and Canada and all having a minimum of four years of work experience, the winners will participate in a high-energy, labor-intensive and career-expanding week, learning how to take their respective careers up to the next level, working alongside a Dame woman-leader in their chosen fields.

Established in 2009 and supported by the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, the Legacy Awards are hosted annually by LDEI, an international organization of women leaders in food, fine beverage and hospitality whose mission is education and philanthropy for the good of the global community.

This year’s winners will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with a top caterer in Seattle, help with the grape harvest for the oldest continuously operating, family-owned winery in California, or experience farm-to-table initiatives on farms in Hawaii and Georgia. The experiences are offered in catering, pastry, wine, food and wine journalism and farm-to-table.

In the “Culinary” category, Jennifer Bradley, senior production sous chef at Pier Sixty, a high-end catering venue in New York City, will travel to the Pacific Northwest to work under the tutelage of Dame Lisa Dupar at her catering company, Lisa Dupar Catering, in Redmond, WA.  Dupar, named Seattle’s best corporate and wedding caterer for 25 years, is also president of the Pomegranate Bistro.

Lisa Ramsey, owner of a small bakery and a chef instructor at The Art Institute of Tennessee, Nashville, will study at the hands of Dame Shari Carlson of Dallas in the

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Six Winners for Unique Hands-On Workplace Experiences with Women Culinary Professionals“Entrepreneurship/Pastry” category.   Carlson is chef/owner of Dessert Dreams, a large wholesale bakery which distributes upscale desserts to area hotels, restaurants, caterers, private clubs and convention centers.

Wente Vineyards in Livermore, CA will host Gretchen McKay of Pittsburgh, PA, a staff member at that city’s Post-Gazette newspaper, in the “Wine” category.  She will spend a week in the California wine country during the 2014 harvest working with Dame Amy Hoopes, EVP Global Sales/Chief Marketing Officer, and Dame Carolyn Wente, CEO of America’s oldest continuously-operated family-owned winery.

Two LDEI chapters offered experiences in the “Farm to Table” area.  Jane Anderson, pastry chef at Ella’s Restaurant and Bar in Sacramento, CA, will fly to Hawaii’s Big

Island to spend the week with Dame Lesley Hill, CEO of the Wailea Agricultural Group. Wailea Ag is the largest grower of fresh Hawaiian heart of palm in America along with a myriad of tropical and subtropical fruits.

The Atlanta, GA chapter will host Meghan Seradsky, a private cooking instructor and the National College Advisor and Alumni Coordinator for C-CAP, Careers through

Culinary Arts programs, in New York City.  She will experience two farms: Dame Charlotte Swancy’s Riverview Farms, a 200-acre organic-certified family farm in

Northwest Georgia, and Dame Judith Winfrey’s five-acre farm, Love is Love, in the heart of Atlanta.

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Six Winners for Unique Hands-On Workplace Experiences with Women Culinary ProfessionalsFor the first time the Legacy Awards include a “Food and Wine Journalism” category.  Good Housekeeping magazine Food Director Dame Susan Westmoreland and Dame Sharon Franke, Director of Kitchen Appliances and Technology Department of the Good Housekeeping Institute, will introduce Catherine Smart, a food writer and personal chef from Boston, to the world of magazine food and equipment.

The LDEI Legacy Awards Program is supported by a generous donation from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, which was created by Child in 1995 to support non-profit organizations which share her commitment to education and to encourage others to live well through the joys of cooking and eating well.

LDEI is an invitational organization of women leaders in the United States, Canada and the UK in food, fine beverage and hospitality whose mission is education, advocacy and philanthropy.


Hosted by Dame Lisa Dupar, Lisa Dupar Catering, Redmond, WA

After attending Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY, Jennifer enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York in 2006.  A year later she joined Pier Sixty and the Lighthouse, a high-end catering facility in New York.  Currently she is the senior sous chef, responsible for managing the food preparation in two full-service, upscale catering locations as well as being the lead chef on many catered events ranging from 50 to 500 guests.  Lisa is experienced not only in all areas of food preparation and presentation, but also in production control and personnel development. “Having the opportunity to work with Lisa Dupar would give me a chance to see what is being done in the catering and food scene on the west coast as well as help develop a professional relationship with a successful woman in the industry,” she said.  Her long-term goals include having a bed and breakfast near her hometown where she can cater smaller events using local farm fresh ingredients.  This Legacy Award will give her the opportunity to better understand how smaller operations are run.

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Six Winners for Unique Hands-On Workplace Experiences with Women Culinary ProfessionalsENTREPRENEURSHIP/PASTRY AWARD WINNER
Hosted by Dame Shari Carlson, Dessert Dreams Bakery, Dallas TX

Lisa has a myriad of irons in the fire.  Besides owning a small bakery where she caters events and designs and decorates cakes, she is a chef Instructor at The Art Institute of Tennessee in Nashville.  For six months last year, she helped open a new restaurant in Franklin, TN as executive chef, creating the menu and concept. Additionally she has been an on-call personal chef for the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills for the past six years.  Lisa also has been named Chef of the Year and Educator of the Year by the American Chef Federation.  “In applying for this award, I hope to experience a wholesale bakery in action.  Having owned a small bakery for over 18 years, I am looking for a mentor to help me learn how to expand my business into a wholesale environment,” Lisa wrote.  She looks forward to exploring all sides of the pastry business in Dallas by visiting wholesale manufacturers and distributors and to experience the day-to-day production of baking and pastry.

GRETCHEN McKAY, Pittsburgh, PA
Hosted by Dames Carolyn Wente and Amy Hoopes, Wente Vineyards, Livermore, CA

Gretchen has been a food writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly 10 years. As one-half of a two-person staff, she generates and reports stories for their award-winning Food & Flavor section, writes a weekly “What’s for Dinner” column and appears regularly on her local CBS affiliate to promote P-G stories and do cooking

demos.  Prior to arriving at the Post-Gazette, she worked for a military leisure-time magazine in Hong Kong and was a contributing editor to First for Women, a national woman’s magazine in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.  And why did she apply for the wine award?  In her own words:  “I feel I’ve come into my own in the past two years with my food writing.  But there’s still one topic on which I’m sorely deficient:  wine.  Though I love to drink it, I know nothing about how it’s made, which foods pair best with which wines, why vintage is important.  This is information I’d love to be able to convey to our readers when writing a story. ” Gretchen has a BA and MA in English/Professional Writing and has won numerous awards in professional competitions held by the Association of Food Journalists and other organizations.       

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Six Winners for Unique Hands-On Workplace Experiences with Women Culinary ProfessionalsFARM TO TABLE WINNER/HAWAII
Hosted by Dame Lesley Hill, CEO of the Wailea Agricultural Group, Honomu, HI

With her Culinary Arts Certificate from American River College, Sacramento, in hand, Jane entered the culinary world as a pizza and pastry cook and then moved on

to a sauté and pastry cook.  Obviously pastry won out as she became pastry chef and junior sous chef in Kapalua, Maui, HI.  Returning to Sacramento in 2011, she was hired as a pastry assistant and line cook at the city’s Taylor’s Kitchen.  In 2012, Jane was named pastry chef at Ella Dining Room and Bar, one of the city’s most prominent restaurants.  “The farmer’s contribution to the culinary arts has gone unnoticed far too long.  Without the artful farmer, we the chefs would have nothing to decorate our plates with. To me, farm to table is not just another growing trend.  It’s a way of life,” she enthuses.  Jane also confesses that being a woman in an industry full of men is no easy task.  She is looking forward to having a strong female mentor like Lesley Hill with which to learn and admire.

Hosted by Atlanta Dames including Stacy Zeigler, Charlotte Swancy, Judith Winfrey

With a BS Degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell, Meghan went straight into teaching. She taught a course on job training and mentorship in the hospitality industry

at her alma mater and in 2007 joined C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) in New York, starting in recruiting, then to negotiating and procuring scholarships to her current position as national college advisor and alumni coordinator.  Among her responsibilities are implementing professional development programs for replication in seven cities nationwide andrecruiting international industry leaders to sponsor culinary training programs in Italy.  In her other life, she is a private cooking instructor who trains at-home cooks in basic and intermediate culinary skills, specializing in local-sustainable and vegetarian menus.  Meghan is hoping to learn about biodiversity, maintaining soil quality and the cultivation of organic produce among other skills while enjoying her Atlanta experience.  She plans on gleaning as much as possible in seven days through an experience she can share with her students.

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Six Winners for Unique Hands-On Workplace Experiences with Women Culinary ProfessionalsFOOD/WINE JOURNALISM WINNER
Hosted by Dames Susan Westmoreland and Sharon Franke, Good Housekeeping Magazine, New York City

When Catherine was in college studying communications at the University of New Hampshire, she was unsure of her next steps.  She found refuge in devouring culinary magazines and getting lost in cookbooks.  This eventually led to applying to the Master’s in Gastronomy program at Boston University and the revelation that she had to work in food writing.  Catherine began contributing to the weekly food section of the Boston Globe in 2009, writing features, reviewing restaurants, contributing original recipes, food styling and photography.  Recently, she began writing and photographing travel stories and hotel reviews for Saveur.com.  Owner/Chef of a Boston area personal chef business, she also teaches cooking classes to children, teens and adults.  Catherine writes that this award will allow her to learn what goes into a magazine food section, how the team functions and to apply that knowledge to the work she does for The Globe, Saveur.com and her blog, smartentertaining.com.

LDEI is an international organization of women leaders who create a supportive culture in their communities to achieve excellence in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality professions. To do this, over 1,800 members in 29 chapters worldwide provide leadership, educational opportunities and host philanthropic events within their communities. For more information, visit LDEI.org or on Facebook at Les Dames d’Escoffier Int’l.