The James Beard Foundation is committed to supporting and mentoring the next generation of culinary leaders. The Foundation’s Women in Culinary Leadership program has already successfully graduated more than 25 women who have entered the program and for the class of 2017 there are 20 positions available offered by 19 mentors. Founded by Susan Ungaro and Rohini Dey, the program is now starting its fourth year, featuring talented and successful chefs and restaurateurs. The goal is for candidates to learn first-hand how to break through the culinary world’s glass ceiling.

The mentors, who are leading restaurateurs and chefs across the country, offer an accelerated, learning-by-doing leadership program to the mentees who will be placed within their restaurant groups. This is reinforced, by monthly program assessments, and calls with the JBF leadership to access each mentee’s development trajectory.

In addition, each mentee will have the opportunity to work alongside guest chefs cooking at the historic James Beard House for one week

WCL gives women with a minimum of two years of professional hospitality or culinary experience the chance to train and work with top industry leaders and build in-depth skills either in in the kitchen and/or around restaurant management. Only when more women hold top roles in the culinary industry will more women find success in the industry.

The James Beard Foundation offers the Women in Culinary Leadership Program (WCL) to women working in the industry the opportunity to acquire or hone their culinary, management, and entrepreneurial skills while working in established restaurants.

To apply click here: 

The applicant may apply for an eightmonth program for either the Chef Management (BoH) or Hospitality Management (FoH) Training program. To help financially support the selected mentee during this hands-on accelerated learning experience, a gross weekly payment of $600 (subject to all applicable taxes) for a 50 hour maximum work week will be paid to the mentee by her mentor. This is the only payment she will receive during the course of the program.

Applicants for the WCL Mentorship Program may select from one of the following mentorship opportunities. Arranged mentorships must be taken at times mutually agreed upon by the applicant and mentors and be completed within one year after they are awarded. In addition, each mentee will have the opportunity to work alongside guest chefs cooking at the historic James Beard House for one week.

Participating Mentors


José Andrés—Think Food Group, Washington D.C., CHEF

Kim Bartmann—Multiple Restaurants, Minneapolis, MN, HOSPITALITY

Elizabeth Blau—Andiron Steak & Sea; Buddy V’s Ristorante; and Honey Salt, Las Vegas, HOSPITALITY

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz—BOKA Restaurant Group, Chicago, HOSPITALITY

Kevin Brown—Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, Chicago, CHEF

Rohini Dey—Vermilion Restaurants, Chicago, CHEF

Tom Douglas—Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle, CHEF

Paul Fehribach—Big Jones, Chicago, CHEF

Gina and Linton Hopkins—Restaurant Eugene Group, Atlanta, CHEF

Cindy Hutson—Ortanique; Zest Restaurant; and Zest MRKT, Miami, CHEF

Matt Jennings—Townsman, Boston, CHEF

David Kinch—Manresa, Los Gatos, CA, CHEF

Shelley Lindgren—A 16, San Francisco, CHEF

Ti Adelaide Martin—Commander’s Palace, New Orleans, HOSPITALITY

Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger—Border Grill, Los Angeles, CHEF

Anne Quatrano—Bacchanalia; Floataway Cafe; and W.H. Stiles Fish Camp, Atlanta, CHEF

Sarah Robbins—21c Museum Hotels, Proof on Main, Louisville, KY CHEF

Avery Ruzicka—Manresa Bread, Los Gatos, CA, BAKER

Stephen Starr—Starr Restaurants, Miami; NYC; Philadelphia; or Washington, D.C., CHEF

Sample Chef Management (BoH) Leadership Program

Train across all stations including but not limited to: prep, pantry, fish, poultry, butcher, meat, sauces, hot line, and pastry; learn to expedite

Learn opening and closing procedures for all stations listed above

Learn sanitation rules and procedures for kitchen, dry and cold storage

Learn cost control via sourcing, ordering, rotation, inventory, and promoting product

Learn labor cost management, hiring, training, evaluation, and other aspects of human resources

Learn banquet planning, preparation, and cooking procedures needed for small- to large-scale events

Sample Hospitality Management (FoH) Leadership Program

Work closely with FOH Managers to learn floor managing and GM skills, staff training and service, customer liaison, develop skills in team management and mentoring

Learn about beverage programs across sourcing, pricing, inventory, bar management and costs

Learn financials at both restaurant and corporate levels (P&L, invested capital, cash flow)

Work in payroll, accounting and other administrative areas; learn about legal issues, licenses, permits

Learn all aspects of event planning, from client interaction, to menu planning, to producing events

Train with in-house marketing and or PR team; work in external charity or industry events; work in new project, restaurant startups, relaunches, expansion

If applicable, opportunity to experience all of the above at the various restaurants in the group


Be age 21 or older

Have at least two (2) years of experience in the Hospitality Industry; in the kitchen, dining room, and/or office.

Must be a U.S. Resident

Complete applications are due by 11.59 PM March 12, 2017 to include the following items:

An essay explaining why the applicant desires to expand her education through this grant and what distinguishes her in motivation or accomplishments

Three (3) letters of recommendation from culinary or hospitality professionals, two of whom have worked directly with the applicant, including name, company, position and relationship to you. References must all be from three different sources and companies.


Recipients must:

Be available for a possible two-day stage as part of the selection process (all travel at own expense)

Sign Agreement, accepting the terms of the mentorship

Reply to monthly questionnaire describing the previous month’s experience

Participate in mandatory monthly conference calls

Submit a summary of the experience within four weeks after completion of program

Be prepared to cover all costs related to relocation to another city

Be prepared (temporarily) to cover initial expenses pending receipt of first paycheck from mentor

Conduct oneself in a professional manner at all times

Adhere to the mentee’s guidebook policies

Application Process and Timeline:

March 12: Completed Application deadline

March 13—31: Applications will be reviewed, first by the James Beard Foundation, then by the mentors

April 1—16: Mentors will make first round of selections, connect with the applicant, and set up interviews.

April 17—24: Selected applicant to interview and or stage with potential mentor          

May 1—5: Mentors selects mentee, informs JBF and mentee, and if accepted, sets start date

June 1—30: Start date—exact date to be mutually agreed upon by mentor and successful applicant.

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