From coast to coast, more and more powerhouse women chefs are popping up in kitchens. Take Shannon Martincic, a Culinary Institute of America grad who—at only 23 years old—is helming the incredibly innovative kitchen at Seattle’s newly opened Bar Noroeste; or Mashama Bailey, who moved back home to Savannah, Georgia, from Queens, New York, to open The Grey, hailed as one of the best restaurants to open in 2014.
It’s women like Martincic and Bailey who Women Chefs and Restaurateurs—the professional association for women from all walks of the food and beverage community—seeks to support. The woman behind all those women is Alicia Boada, WCR’s incoming president and conference chair.
Based in Los Angeles, Boada works as a pastry chef with chocolatier Barry Callebaut by day and volunteers with WCR by night. When she learned she would chair the 23rd annual conference, happening April 17-18, 2016, she knew she wanted to plan something different. That started with the location: her home base.
“L.A. is a wonderful food city, and has become very lovely in the last 10 years,” she says. “It’s also a powerhouse for women in food.” Besides the large pool of potential speakers and attendees, L.A. also lent itself to a new event format Boada had in mind.
Typically, WCR’s conference is located in one hotel, and leaders utilize the on-site banquet rooms, ballrooms and kitchen facilities for demonstrations. The stale environment left Boada uninspired, so she changed it up. “I get very bored at trade shows going to the same building and not ever leaving,” she explains. “I wanted to bring the experience of all of L.A. to attendees.”