Finalists for the 2016 Women Who Inspire Awards, a hallmark of the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) organization, have been chosen for being women who have inspired and instigated change in the culinary landscape. Winners for each category will be feted at a lavish ceremony to be held from 6 to 10 p.m. on April at the legendary New York Street backlot at Hollywood’s Paramount Pictures Studio.

The awards will close out the two-day conference, taking place April 17-18, which gathers the nation’s top, female chefs, sommeliers, mixologists, and other hospitality professionals for two days of mentor sessions, panel discussions, cooking competitions, and celebrations at the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City. Registration is now open, and tickets to the Women Who Inspire Awards can be purchased as part of a Conference Pass, One-Day Registration for Monday, or as a Stand Alone Ticket. 

The finalists for each category of the 2016 Women Who Inspire Awards are as follows:

  • WCR Barbara Tropp Golden Knife Award recognizes a lifetime of culinary excellence and honors a woman who has made exceptional and last contributions to the foodservice industry.
  • Joan McNamara, Joan’s on Third, Los Angeles, California
  • Heidi Krahling, Insalata's and Marinitas, San Anselmo, California
  • Karen Trilevsky, Entrepreneur and Founder Full Bloom Baking Company, San Francisco, California

WCR Golden Glass Award recognizes distinction in the dining room or beverage profession and honors a woman whose front-of-house management skills, beverage service and/or production demonstrates a commitment to excellence.

  • Bella Lantsman, Chinois on Main, Santa Monica, California
  • Julie Merino, The Macintosh, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Ani Meinhold, The Federal Food Drink and Provisions, Miami, Florida

WCR Golden Whisk Award recognizes excellence in the kitchen and honors a woman whose passion and achievements as a chef or cook serves as a role model for others.

  • Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles, California
  • Melissa Perello, Octavia and Frances, San Francisco, California
  • Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn, San Francisco, California

WCR Golden Bowl Award recognizes excellence in baking and pastry arts and honors a woman whose skill in this industry inspires others.

  • Ilma Lopez, Piccolo, Portland, Maine
  • Sally Darling, Chow Restaurants, Danville, California
  • Della Gossett, Spago, Beverly Hills, California

WCR Golden Hand Award recognizes outstanding contributions to society and honors a woman whose contributions in community or civic affairs have made a strong impact on the lives of others.

  • Sharon Hapton, Soup Sisters, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Ashleigh Parsons, Alma Community Outreach, Los Angeles, California
  • Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, Hot Bread Kitchen, New York, New York

WCR Golden Pencil Award recognizes dedication to teaching that is making a difference in the culinary world and honors a woman who inspires her students both technically and creatively.

  • Kirsten Dixon, Within the Wild, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Annemarie Ahearn, Saltwater Farm, Rockport, Maine
  • Tiffany Poe, Tiffany Poe Culinary Services, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Laurey Masterton Golden Amulet Award recognizes women entrepreneurs in the food service industry (including farmers, artisanal producers and up-and-comers). The award is named for the trailblazing entrepreneur who proudly wore and sold amulets containing 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey, the amount made by one worker bee in its lifetime.

  • Sal Howell, River Café and Boxwood, Calgary Alberta, Canada
  • Stephanie Castellucci, Castellucci Hospitality Group, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Sandra Harvey, Sandra Harvey Designs, Ashville, North Carolina
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