More than 250 women culinary professionals will converge in Boston to experience and celebrate the city’s many food “firsts” during the Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) annual conference, Oct. 30 – Nov. 2.
LDEI members attending the conference at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge represent 1,830 women leaders in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality fields. They are members of the culinary organization and hail from 29 chapters across the U.S., Canada, and London.
The conference will include four days of educational seminars, networking, touring, tastings, and dine-arounds, all with the theme of “The Best Begins in Boston.”
The theme was selected by the local chapter due to the list of firsts that occurred in Boston, including the first chocolate factory and published cookbook in America.
Members will celebrate the origins of the organization, which began in 1959 with the first chapter given its charter by Les Amis d’Escoffier, an all-male professional organization. During a time of limited opportunities for women, founding members were classified as Les Dames des Amis d’Escoffier (wives and friends of Escoffier) until 1991, when the Boston chapter became affiliated with LDEI.
The gathering will focus on shifting perceptions and reality around women who cook. Chef, television personality, and cookbook author Sara Moulton will frame the conversation as keynote speaker. Following her address, there will be a panel of female chefs and media professionals to give multiple perspectives on how to move more women from the sidelines to center stage in the culinary industry.
The conference will also include:
- Beverage seminars, including “Sommelier Smackdown” with female sommeliers and “Boston Tea Party: From Colonial Tea Punch to Modern Tea Cocktails” with a professional Boston tea sommelier.
- Professional development seminars on using strategic planning at the personal level to think about exit and growth strategies for business and career.
- A social media skills update and workshops on food styling and food photography.
- Educational seminars on molecular gastronomy and culinary science, cooking with ancient wheat varieties, and, with a bow to local seacoast splendors, a focus on seafood and sustainability.
Boston chapter members assembled more than 35 professionals to present to the LDEI membership. The conference committee includes conference co-chairwomen Joan Sweeney and Judy Mattera, program chairwoman Louisa Kasdon, and chapter president Lee Napoli.