The nation’s leading culinary and hospitality talent will gather for the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) 24th Annual National Conference for two days of mentor sessions, panel discussions, cooking competitions and city tours May 6—8 at the W Hotel Seattle. This year’s theme, “Join Us At The Table. Eat, Drink, & LEAD,” encourages the culinary community to join together and tackle the issues that affect females in the industry. The conference agenda will include talent talks from key leaders in the industry, live cooking demonstrations, dedicated mentor sessions, as well as exciting tours of some of the best destinations Seattle has to offer. Additionally, media sponsor Chef’s Roll will be providing free professional headshots for all conference participants. Conference registration is now open and more information can be found here.

“Seattle has always been known as a culinary destination, hosting the best of the best in the culinary industry and offering a diverse variety of options,” says WCR president Alicia Boada. “As this year’s host city, it was important to recognize this group of intimately connected Seattle chefs, restaurant owners, wine makers, baristas and farmers who all represent a local food culture that many cities envy.” Founded in 1993, WCR is a nonprofit organization that works to promote and enhance the education, advancement, and connection of women in food, beverage, and hospitality businesses across the world. This year’s coastal host city of Seattle is home to pivotal female leaders in the hospitality industry and is known for its dedication to innovation, sustainability, and commitment to aquaculture, which will be showcased at the conference closing celebration hosted at the Seattle Aquarium.

2017 Conference Programming Highlights

Every year, WCR brings together the top-tier talent from all aspects of the hospitality world included industry veterans, rising stars, historians, and more. Programming includes:

Opening Keynote: James Beard Award Winner Chef Maria Hines, known for her award-winning and diverse Seattle-based concepts including Tilth, Agrodolce and Young American Ale House

Welcome Speaker: Founder and Executive Director of Project Feast, Veena Prasad will discuss how her award-winning nonprofit has empowered refugee and immigrant cooks to be a part of the Seattle culinary community

Talent Talks: First-person perspectives from top industry talent include GiGi Dubois and Tara Redfield, Ti Martin, Amanda Cohen, Claire Menke, Kate Edwards, Violet Grgich, Deborah Harris, and more

Live Cooking Demonstrations: Participants will learn from Michael-Ann Rowe, Nataha Capper, and Eleanor Chow Waterfall as they demonstrate everything from Lobster 101 to dessert trends on the rise

Fifth Annual WCR Food Games

Led by Chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Maria Hines, this year’s WCR Food Games encourages friendly competition as the celebrity chef coaches lead three teams through three rounds of secret ingredient-driven, head-to-head challenges. Chefs Falkner and Hines’ background in TV competitions including Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters respectively, will come in handy as they coach conference participants to glory. Only one chef will win the coveted title of WCR Food Games Champion.

City Tours: Exploring Seattle’s Culinary Destinations

Well known as a top culinary destination, WCR will take conference participants to some of the best destinations that Seattle has to offer including:

Modernist Cuisine’s Cooking Lab: Nathan Myhrvold’s innovative food laboratory in Bellevue, WA opens its doors for an exclusive look behind the scenes and tasting

Pike’s Place Market: Tour Seattle’s iconic marketplace with WCR and connect with the historic vendors

Woodinville Wine Country: Located 30 minutes from Downtown Seattle, the small scenic valley offers fruit from Eastern Washington combined with flavors of the Pacific Northwest

Opening and Closing Festivities

At this year’s opening night kick-off party, participants are invited to taste the flavors of Woodinville Wine Country. Notable chefs from the Pacific Northwest are paired with winemakers from the region, providing flavors unique to Seattle.

The conference closing ceremony celebrates the city’s dedication to aquaculture with this year’s theme “SEAttle to Table”, hosted at the Seattle Aquarium. The featured chefs will create food and drink that represents Seattle’s commitment to sustainable aquaculture.

For more information, pricing, and to purchase tickets to attend the WCR 24th Annual National Conference, visit For specialty rates at the W Hotel Seattle during the conference, visit this link. Guests may also call (888) 627-8552 and identify themselves as an attendee of the WCR 2017 Annual Convention by using the code, 9250. The specialty room rates start at $209 and are available until April 14, 2017.

Since its founding in 1993, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs has worked to promote and enhance the education, advancement, and connection of women in the culinary industry. Originally founded by eight of the nation’s top female chefs and restaurateurs including Lidia Bastianich and Barbara Tropp, WCR reaches membership and outreach to a network of over 17,000, with Alicia Boada serving as the current president. The organization offers a variety of networking, professional, and support services including scholarship opportunities. 

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