Top recommendations from industry women for where to meet, mingle, and make connections.

I have been recently ecstatic about the release of FSR’s February 2019 issue that’s chock full of features on the restaurant industry’s leading ladies. But when a friend asked me recently for the best industry events to attend for women in the biz, I was stumped. Beyond the FAB Workshop, which I’ve written about and attended, I don’t have much firsthand experience with these events (yet). So, I did what my friend did, and what women often do best—I asked other women for help! I polled some of the most in-the-know women in food for their favorite industry organizations and events. Here are their top recommendations, and mine, too.

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  1. FAB Workshop
    In its third year, the FAB Workshop takes on a new location—The American Theatre and William Aiken House in Charleston—and a new format. Attendees can choose their own journey and select panels on any track that speaks to them. The conference is women-only, not for exclusivity but for safety. Founder Randi Weinstein says the environment creates a safe space for women in the business to speak frankly about issues affecting them. Read more about Randi and how she founded FAB in our February 2019 Women to Watch feature.
  2. Women’s Foodservice Forum Annual Leadership Development Conference
    WFF calls itself the food industry’s thought leader on women’s advancement and gender equity. The annual leadership conference furthers the organization’s mission to enable women to drive their own career advancement—take the opportunity to connect with women executives across industry segments. And—as if you need another reason beyond that–a keynote speaker for 2019 is the one and only Brené Brown, a bestselling author who specializes in wholehearted leadership.
  3. Women Chefs and Restaurateurs
    I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of this organization but it was the top recommendation from the people I polled. WCR has been an organization dedicated to changing the restaurant industry since 1993 when a group of women chefs and restaurant owners banned together to create a platform that gives women the well-deserved credit they deserve in the restaurant industry. The group hosts meet-ups and an annual conference.
  4. ACF United in Food: Women’s Leadership Symposium
    As a woman editor covering the restaurant space, I often find that other women are the best sources. When I connected with Catie Gainor, who provides public relations services for the American Culinary Federation, for our Hot or Not slideshow, I knew we’d created a bond that would prove fruitful for both of us in the future. She let me in on this little secret. At the ACF’s national convention in August, the organization will host a four-hour symposium with a panel discussion and keynote presentations from America’s Test Kitchen’s Elle Simone and James Beard-nominated cookbook author Jody Eddy, among others. ACF has more women-centered programming throughout its events.
  5. Les Dames d’Escoffier International
    When it comes to women in food, Les Dames d’Escoffier has a legacy of absolute girl power. Its formation was inspired by a rebellious group of Boston women, Les Dames des Amis d’Escoffier, a dining and philanthropic society of women formed in 1959 in response to the all-male Les Amis d’Escoffier. In the early ‘70s, Carol Brock, the Sunday food editor at the New York Daily News, thought professional culinary women should have a group of their own and created Les Dames. The Dames will host their annual conference in 2019 in Nashville.
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