LDEI Atlanta Chapter Founding Members Interviews: Kay Goldstein

What did you think when you were approached 20 years ago to be a founding member of the Atlanta Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDEI) chapter? 
I have been a longtime friend of Nathalie Dupree’s, and I remember her saying “I really think we ought to do a chapter here.” I was already very involved with the International Association of Culinary Professional, so I initially thought “Do we really need another organization?” The focus was a little different, of course, and there was also this element of wanting to do community service and that sort of thing. I had heard of LDEI, but before Nathalie approached me I was just way too busy to think about it. Most of us in the culinary world work long hours!

Did you see a need for the organization? 
Well, I did after we started gathering and talking about it, and I learned that the focus was a little different. With LDEI, the focus was more about professionals who gather together in a community. We often selected a project to help other women in the culinary industry. This was my concept and why I was interested – to help other women really begin roads in the culinary field. I felt like I had something to offer to encourage other women to be a part of the culinary world. And I think at the time, twenty years ago, that was a much harder thing to do. Much harder than it is now. 

What has been your favorite part about the chapter? 
I loved getting to know the women. We had a lot of younger women who were interested in joining and they were very enthusiastic about doing some of the fundraising that we did. Meeting new people, feeling like I could be helpful to them – that was fun. I was kind of winding out of the culinary profession at that point, but I felt like I still had something to offer and that was particularly nice for me.

Can you speak to the impact you’ve seen of the organization? 
When I first got involved in the food world in Atlanta, it was 1976. So it was very rare that there were any women chefs. The only women that I knew who were in the culinary world were primarily cooking teachers and nutritionists. The one exception was Nathalie, who was a television personality. A lot of people gathered around her because she was well-known, she's very social and she’s very good at connecting people. Restaurants and culinary schools were not a welcoming place for women. 

One of the things that changed, and I saw this change in my own company, was hiring women to be in as many top positions as possible. And it wasn't because I was consciously trying to do that, I was just open to the fact that you know, women had a lot to offer. Lots of times women would come to me largely because I was a woman running a company and we were doing well. We had a lot of opportunity to bring on some great women staff members. But I think it’s still hard. For people who take primary care of their family, whether it's the male or the female of the family, it's still very difficult to get the kind of support necessary that’s need for the person to be able to stay in their job and also tend to their family -- sick leave, flexible hours. 

I think that there were people – like Anne Quatrano – who really kind of set the tone for making her work environment friendly. Not just to women, but to everybody. I think that's one of the ways that she accomplished so much – she had a different view on how you put together a restaurant, how you ran it, how people were involved, how they were trained, and how they were supported and educated. 

We have to keep pushing. By recognizing this and talking about it, I think we have another opportunity to push forward. 

Do you frequently or have your previously worked with other Dames? 
I knew Nathalie because I was doing some catering and so I ended up taking one of her courses at Rich’s Cooking School. Barbara Petit worked for me at Proof in the Pudding. She did a lot of work with the Taste of the NFL, she traveled all over the world for Coca-Cola doing events, and she was a prime mover and shaker in the Georgia Organics movement. Also, Carolyn O’Neil and Anne Quatrano.

What do you wish more people knew about our organization? 
Women who are looking for some mentoring can look to LDEI. There are women in every aspect of food in the organization, so if you're thinking about going into a food business I think LDEI would be a great resource for that.

What does being a Dames mean to you?
At the time, I felt very honored and proud to be a member because there weren’t really other ways to be recognized in the food world. There was something that made me really proud about being a woman in the food world and it made me recognize, not only for myself but for others, that it's no small feat to have some success. It took a lot of courage, and certainly a lot of ignorance because if you knew, you might not have done it.

I loved the comradery I felt with the other members, because there's a basic understanding about what we love and what we're passionate about and what we had to face – all to do what we wanted to do.

Meeting Recap: Dames Who Play in the Kitchen - BYOB (Bring Your Own Blender) Edition!

Recap Provided by Dame Gena Berry

We had a great night at Dames Who Play in the Kitchen on Monday, July 18, at the lovely home of Dame Elizabeth Greene. Click here for some pictures from the evening

The theme was BYOB (Bring Your Own Blender). We started with blender hummus - yum! Then we had a delicious FRoze' - a frozen blended rose wine drink. 

Dinner was a fantastic mixed veggie salad with a blended red wine vinaigrette, a smoked salmon potato salad and Roast chicken with a blended tomato dipping sauce. We finished up with a fabulous ice cream buffet and birthday cake to celebrate Dame Lenada MerrickDame Elizabeth Greene and Dame Doris Koplin's July birthdays. 

Ice cream selection included avocado, roasted cherry vanilla, strawberry grand mariner granita and soft serve vanilla. Dame Gloria Smiley made a luscious hazelnut daquoise for the "29 again" birthday cake. As always, it was a fun, relaxing evening among Dames.

Dame Elizabeth Greene, Dame Doris Koplin, Dame Gloria Smiley and Dame Lenada Merrick at Dames Who Play in the Kitchen: BYOB Edition!

Dame Elizabeth Greene, Dame Doris Koplin, Dame Gloria Smiley and Dame Lenada Merrick at Dames Who Play in the Kitchen: BYOB Edition!

June Chapter Meeting Recap: This Little Pig Went to Market... This Little Pig Went to Savannah's Kitchen

By Dame Lenada C.Merrick, CFCS

Dame Savannah Haseler demonstrates the art of butchery on the Ossabaw (pictured left) and Berkshire (pictured right) Pigs

Dame Savannah Haseler demonstrates the art of butchery
on the Ossabaw (pictured left) and Berkshire (pictured right) Pigs

This first larger Berkshire Pig (from Charlotte Swancy's Riverview Farms) is going to market. The smaller Ossabaw Pig is in Savannah's kitchen (aka butcher shop). The early Spanish explorers left the Ossabaw Pigs on Sapelo Island off the coast of Georgia. 

While waiting for all to arrive, we sat in a soft, cool June breeze on the deck enjoying cool beverages and Pre-butchery Appetizers- Pine Street Market Charcuterie Board & Hot Miniature Cuban Sandwiches. When all sixteen had gathered, we went into the "butcher shop". Watching Savannah's skillful use of knives and a hack saw, one was aware she knew her stuff. The first cut to be taken from the half pig was a tenderloin. Soon followed ribs, butt, pork belly and shoulder were separated from the carcase. Sausage is made from the shoulder with no more than 20% fat. Cracklings (aka pork rinds) were discussed and how to prepare. 

Following the demonstration Dames enjoyed a family-style outdoor meal featuring: Clams with Smoked Chorizo and Tomato Broth, Lima Beans & Kale with Herbed Sausage, Wild Rice Salad with Pickled Beet Greens (a yummy touch), Hot Biscuits and our centerpiece on each table... Lemon Butter Chess Pie. 

A wonderful gathering...Gayle, Nancy, Gaye, Kelly, Liz, Elizabeth, Lenada, Jenn, Kristy, Robin, Holly, Debi, Alison, Laurie, Judith and our oh, so gracious hostess, Savannah. A light sprinkling of rain eased us into our cars with very happy tummies. 

Thanks, Savannah for an educational and relaxing evening. Gosh we even decided on BYOB (BLENDER) for the next Dames Who Play in the Kitchen.

LDEI Annual Conference Update

The Washington, D.C. Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier is looking forward to hosting you in our beautiful city for this year’s annual conferenceOctober 27-30th. Located in the fashionable West End and adjacent to Historic Georgetown, the Fairmont Hotel will serve as the perfect location for your stay. You will find our theme, Global Appetite, Local Impact, woven throughout the activities planned. We invite you to "Come Early and Stay Late” as there is a full agenda planned for you with activities running through Sunday Brunch.

Begin your stay on Wednesday afternoon with a private tour of Hillwood Mansion, the estate of Marjorie Merryweather Post, which contains an amazing collection of Russian art and twenty-five acres of landscaped gardens. Afterwards, saunter down the street a couple of blocks for an open house hosted by Grande Dame Joan Nathan to meet up with your girlfriends and enjoy a nibble and a drink.

Thursday, our pre-conference tours will offer you an opportunity to enjoy a variety of unique experiences tailored especially for you. Tour historicMount Vernon; enjoy the day at Aerlie, where Earth day was born; or visit the Turkish Embassy. These are just a few of the many offerings from which you can choose. The LDEI CBL’s have a valuable leadership session planned for you in the area of fundraising. This afternoon session promises to give you tools to bring back to your chapter, enhancing your ability to raise dollars for your various causes.  The evening offers a variety of Dine Arounds featuring many of our award winning Dames Restaurants for a real culinary treat.

We are thrilled that Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, will be the key note speaker on Friday followed by a message from Joan Nathan. Our education committee has been working hard to put together a fantastic line-up of sessions on a variety of cutting edge topics pertinent to our members to enhance your conferenceexperience. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy the fabulous partner lunch and do some shopping at our market place.

Newly renovated Union Station, Capital Hill’s iconic Beaux Arts centerpiece, will serve as the Friday night venue celebrating the 30th birthday of LDEI and the 35th birthday of our chapter. You will enjoy an array of international foods prepared from our talented D.C. Dames recipes.

Saturday morning features a session on Culinary Diplomacy created by the GCI committee followed by more opportunities to learn from a host of interesting panel discussions. Meet the legacy award winners at the luncheon as we hear about their once in a lifetime experiences. Spend Saturday afternoon at the Council of Delegates meeting, or do some sightseeing in this fascinating city. Saturday night you will meet this year’s M.F.K. Fisher award winner at the beautiful ballroom of theFairmont Hotel and enjoy a sumptuous meal.

Plan a late Sunday afternoon departure and join us for an elegant champagne brunch and our chapter fundraiser, Chapeau, Auguste Escoffier! to be held at La Maison Francaise. In celebration of the 170th birthday of our namesake, this soiree at the French Embassy is the perfect way to end your stay with us while bidding au revoir to your sister Dames.

I look forward to seeing you in October. If you need anything at all or have questions, please contact me personally at annstratte@gmail.com.


Ann Stratte

Washington, D.C. Chapter President

Scholarship Corner - May 17, 2016

Dame Nancy Lutz & Dame Vanessa Parker McIntyre, Scholarship Committee Co-Chairs

Below are a few words from Dame Kathleen Perry about why she serves as part of the Scholarship Committee:

"I love serving on the Scholarship Committee because it is the one place to experience first-hand the full impact of our chapter’s mission to provide financial support for women who are pursuing a culinary career.

Each Scholarship Committee Dame takes her service commitment very seriously and is willing to devote many hours in careful consideration of each scholarship/grant applicant. It’s rewarding to meet the grateful awardees and share in their joy, knowing that we have contributed in a substantial way toward making their personal dreams a reality."

Scholarship Corner - May 10, 2016

Dame Nancy Lutz & Dame Vanessa Parker McIntyre, Scholarship Committee Co-Chairs

The Scholarship Committee is getting geared up for our Scholarship deadline of May 15. We have already received 3 applications and have been working on outreach to Georgia schools to spread the word about the opportunity we provide through our scholarship program. We just wrapped up our 2nd quarter grant applications and below is a report from one of the 1st quarter recipients, Hilary King: 

"I really enjoyed and benefited from the Georgia Organics Conference this year. I am currently working on creating evaluation plans and vendor professional development plans. The sessions, particularly with Tenisio and the one on race and gender, were incredibly useful for this planning. In addition, we are working on more appropriate ways to tell the stories of our vendors, and I found the Scott Peacock session on food memories and me travel to be an excellent reminder of how talking about food can be a powerful way to bring history to life. 

Lastly, on a personal level, on Friday evening I was able to connect with activists from Augusta. We sat down together to discuss issues of addressing racial injustice over food that these three women chose to share with me. This conversation and evening were an amazing reminder of the power that food has to bring people together to discuss important, vulnerable and powerful ideas and to share experiences. I am grateful to LDEI for making my attendance possible, as it has fueled me in both ideas and spirit to continue with the challenging and rewarding work of building the Atlanta food movement."


Dames Who Play in the Kitchen: Dames Who Don't Know Jack

We had our second installment of “Dames Who Play in the Kitchen” on November 12, hosted by Stacy Zeigler and Gena Berry with the theme of “Dames Who Don’t Know Jack”.  The fare ranged from Jack Fruit appetizers to  Woodsmoke Jack’s Trout salad, Amber Jack in parchment paper and a finale of Jacques Pepin’s chocolate mousse.  To round out the evening we had a fabulous Apple Jack Cocktail and Kendall “Jack”son wines and a playlist created with all our Jack favorites.  Creativity was not lacking!  Eight Dames came together with all the ingredients to create this fabulous feast.  Once the hard work was done, we were able to sit down and enjoy each other’s company over an exquisitely prepared meal.  It was a great night to connect with new and tenured Dames alike.  Gaye Anderson and Vicky Murphy have volunteered to spearhead the next one, so be looking for an invite in January. 

Jack Fruit Rangoons
By Dame Josalyn Holmes
1/2 can of jack fruit—you can get this at a farmers market like Dekalb’s or Buford Hwy
8 oz of cream cheese
4 Tblsp.  Scallions chopped
1 Tblsp. Garlic powder
Gyoza skins (aka potsticker skins)
2 egg yolks
2 quarts of frying oil
1.      Drain brine liquid off jackfruit and hand shred the jackfruit and put into a small bowl and mix in cream cheese,scallions, garlic powder until everything is well blended.
2.      Lay out gyoza skins and brush a thin coat of egg wash onto the skins.
3.      Put a small dollop of the jackfruit mixture onto the egg washed skins
4.      Fold the skins into your favorite shape. Example, half moons, or a pinched purse
5.      Deep fry the rangoons in hot oil ( 350 degrees) until golden brown an d floating
6.      Take out of oil and drain excess oil onto a towel
Dipping Sauce
 1 cup Rice wine vinegar
½ cup  Ketchup
2 tsp.  Garlic finely chopped
3 tsp. Sweet onion finely chopped
1 cup  White granulated sugar
Kosher salt to taste
2 each   Jalepeno or thai chili pepper- finely chopped
Mix all ingredients together and reduce on medium heat until sauce is thick and syrupy!
 Jack Fruit Melts
1/2 can of jack fruit
1 cup Heavy mayonnaise like Dukes or one made from scratch
1 each Hard boiled egg
3 Tbsp.  Sweet relish
3 Tbsp. Sweet onion- finely chopped
Your favorite sandwich bread
Celery- finely chopped
Provolone cheese or sliced white cheddar
1.      Drain brine liquid off the can of jackfruit, shred by hand  and place in a small bowl.
2.      Mix mayo, chopped hardboiled egg, sweet relish, sweet onion, and celery all into the bowl with the jack fruit.
3.      With a small sauté pan or sheet pan, spread a layer of the mixture onto your favorite bread.
4.      Add a slice ( or slices of cheese) to the mixture and add the other slice of bread on top
5.      Toast in an oven at 350 degrees, for about 8 minutes.
6.      Just a little note,  I like to add butter in  the pan and a little butter on the top slice before it goes into the oven.

Scholarship Corner

From: Dame Nancy Lutz & Dame Vanessa Parker McIntyre, Scholarship Committee Co-Chairs

Below is a recap from Crystal Leach, LDEI grant recipient, of her experience at the Annual Conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).

IACP 2015 – Conference through the Eyes of a First-time Attendee

I have to admit, I had pretty high expectations heading into my first IACP conference – I’d heard from many of my coworkers and mentors that this was going to be “such a great experience”.  Each time I mentioned that I was attending this years’ conference, I was assured that I would “love it – you’ll learn so much and make so many contacts”.  As the conference approached, I was beginning to worry- could any meeting really live up to all of that hype?  Well, I’m happy to report that it did –as I reflect on all I experienced and learned that jam-packed weekend in DC, I must admit my colleagues were right – it was a truly incredible experience.

One of the things that most impressed me about the conference sessions was the applicability of the topics and content.  My notes are filled with helpful insights and pragmatic tips that I can put into practice immediately.  A few of my favorites include Scott Peacock’s advice on capturing food histories (“Let them fill the space – don’t talk, even if it is uncomfortable…”), Monica Bhide’s detailed checklist for self-publishing a cookbook, and tips for taking professional-looking food photographs with my iPhone. 

As someone relatively new to the culinary world, still working on charting my course, I find it easy to get consumed with the practical aspects of building my career.  Given that tendency, perhaps what I appreciated most about this conference was that it provided insight and learning on multiple levels – from very practical tips and tools for everyday use to larger, more thought-provoking topics.  This was a weekend that spoke to both my head and my heart.

One of the most stimulating experiences of the conference was Friday’s Optional Tour of the Union Kitchen Food Incubator. We spent the morning touring the facility, meeting with the development team who conceived of and built the incubator and interacting directly with the food entreprenuers who are using this unique facility.  This was an in-depth, up-close and personal look at what it takes to start a new food business and how to build a community that supports this type of grass-roots economic growth.  The sign that greets you as you walk in the lobby represents the spirit and ethic of this unique community…Create. Contribute. Prosper.

In Saturday’s session on “Leveraging Your Voice and Brand for Social Good” I was reminded that “it’s possible to make both meaning and money”.  The discussion by Food Network and Share Our Strength staff members provided insight, encouragement and contacts I can apply to my current efforts at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. And, finally, on a personal level, it was a truly uplifting experience to witness Jacques Pepin Skype into the conference to celebrate his 80th birthday with the crowd, only 2 days after having a minor stroke.

I am grateful for the LDEI grant funding that supported my attendance at the 2015 IACP Conference.  As predicted – I did love it, I learned a great deal and I made many valuable contacts.  I’m confident I will be able to leverage all of these experiences in the coming months and years. 

2015 Green Ribbon Award - Nomination Deadline is October 29

The Green Tables Committee is now accepting nominations for the Green Ribbon Award.  In keeping with our chapter’s Mission and Vision, this annual award recognizes outstanding individual and business achievements in sustainable initiatives relating to food and farms.  The criteria for nomination should include efforts and accomplishments achieved during the previous 12 months only. Please remember that Dames are not eligible for this award.

Please reflect your reason for nominating the individual in a maximum one-page essay.  Include a brief history of the nominee, and a maximum 3-4 pieces of supporting documentation of their recent efforts, as may be applicable.  The winner will be awarded on stage with the Green Ribbon Skillet during our annual Afternoon in the Country event on Sunday, November 8, and will be acknowledged in the event’s onsite program, on the chapter website and in social media. 

Please submit your nominations via email to Green Tables chair Dame Jennifer Hill Booker at ChefJenniferBooker@gmail.com no later than 5pm on, October 29th, 2015.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Welcomes Six New Chapters Ann Arbor, Kentucky, North Carolina, Portland, Sacramento, and Mexico City

Les Dames d’ Escoffier International, organization of women leaders in food, beverage, and hospitality professions, today announced the addition of six new chapters (serving a specific country, region, city or state):  Ann Arbor, MI;  Kentucky; North Carolina; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; and Mexico City, MX.  

According to LDEI President, Lori Willis, “There are now 2,011 Dames in 36 chapters worldwide working to further the mission of providing education opportunities for women and philanthropic support to the communities they Willis says, “LDEI will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2016, and there is no better way to validate the ongoing relevance of our mission than in welcoming an unprecedented number of new chapters.”  

“Adding the women of Mexico City is particularly exciting, “ says Willis.  “With this new chapter, organized by LDEI president-elect Maria Gomez, we expand our organization’s international reach and enhance philanthropic impact.”

More than 250 Dames, top women culinary leaders,  are expected to converge in Charleston, “The Culinary Capital of the South,” to experience history and hospitality during the Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) annual conference, Oct. 29 – Nov. 1. Dame Carla Hall, renowned chef, author, entrepreneur, and television co-host of The Chew, will be the keynote speaker.  Chef Hall will  share insights on the commerce of branding.

Joan Nathan is LDEI's Grande Dame for 2015

Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s (LDEI) prestigious Grande Dame recognition will be awarded to Joan Nathan, author of 10 award-winning cookbooks. Nathan is a charter member of the Washington D.C. LDEI Chapter, a dedicated philanthropist and noted culinary expert who views food through the lenses of history, culture, and tradition.

LDEI is an organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality. Its Grande Dame Award honors a lifetime of outstanding professional achievement, excellence, and charitable/community contributions within the culinary industry and is bestowed biennially. Nathan, the thirteenth recipient of the international honor, will receive the award at a gala dinner culminating the LDEI annual conference in Charleston, S.C. on Saturday, October 31, 2015.

Nathan joined Grande Dame Alice Waters and Chef Jose Andres in leading Washington D.C.’s Sips and Sups dedicated to fighting hunger. Last year, Sips and Sups raised over $500,000 for DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table, where Nathan serves on the board. Martha’s Table is a DC-based nonprofit that provides comprehensive support to impoverished individuals.

Nathan has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who In American Food and Beverage. Her most recent cookbook Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, made both the New York Times and the National Public Radio 2010 best cookbooks lists. Her landmark book, Jewish Cooking in America won both the 1994 James Beard Award and the 1994 IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award as did her 2005 cookbook, The New American Cooking. Nathan’s PBS series Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan was nominated for the James Beard Award for Best National Television Food Show. 

Over the course of her career, Nathan has had a significant impact on the culinary profession. In 1974, while working for New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, she cofounded the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, which continues today. In the 1980’s, Nathan pioneered the inaugural Smithsonian Associates’ food series with special guests Julia Child and Craig Claiborne. Nathan served as the guest curator of the Smithsonian’s Folk Life Festival’s 2005 Food Culture USA; an event that drew upon the research for her book The New American Cooking. In May of 2011, she spoke at the National Archives about the Jewish American Exhibit. Recently, Nathan was invited to serve on the Kitchen Advisory to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Nathan has consulted on several White House Passover Seder menus and was also asked by First Lady Laura Bush to participate in the National Book Festival. The Obama administration invited Nathan to stage a Passover culinary demonstration at the White House. 

Atlanta LDEI Chapter Dues

Thanks for a great year!  We hope you have enjoyed our programs, all covered in part by your dues.  We've planned many exciting events for the months ahead where we'll look forward to seeing you.  Membership in Les Dames d'Escoffier International is both an honor and a privilege, and with that comes the responsibility of actively participating to fulfill our mission.  Your commitment is vital to the continued success of our chapter. 

Membership Dues for the 2015 -2016 year are payable on or before August 15, 2015.  Dues are as follows:

Local Dues

National Dues

Total if paid with check

Total if paid with credit card

If you wish to pay with a credit card, please click the "Pay Dues Online" button above, or call Gloria Smiley at 404-261-1630.  There is an additional $5 fee added to the dues to cover the cost of processing credit cards.

Please mail all checks to:
Gloria Smiley
LDEI Treasurer
4245 Conway Valley Road, N.W.
Atlanta, GA 30327

According to our By-Laws, dues are payable by August 15, after which a $15.00 late fee will be imposed. If dues are not received by August 25, membership will be terminated for non-payment. 

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names 2015 Legacy Award Winners

Supported by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, six professional women chosen as this year’s Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDE) Legacy Award recipients have each earned a mentoring opportunity delivered by distinguished members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), an organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality whose mission is education and philanthropy for the good of the global community.

This year’s winners, Van Doren Chan, Vancouver, BC; Christine Burns Rudalevige, Brunswick, ME; Katie Groffman, San Francisco, CA; Ashley Hawkins, Austin, TX; Kelly Patkus, Charlotte, NC; Jennifer Moniz, Atlanta, GA, will participate in a high-energy, labor-intensive, and career-expanding week customized by host Dames.

Established in 2009 and supported by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, LDEI’s Legacy Awards competition is open to women from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom who have a minimum of four year’s industry experience.

This year’s experiences include the chance to work side-by-side with a top restaurant owner in Washington, D.C., help with the grape harvest for the oldest continuously operating, family-owned winery in California, and experience farm-to-table initiatives on a farm in Hawaii. Six awards will be offered in four categories: culinary; food/wine journalism; wine; and farm-to-table.

The professional experience programs and winners include: Dame Nora Pouillon of Washington D.C.’s Restaurant Nora, America’s first certified organic restaurant, will host Van Doren Chan of Vancouver, B.C. in the Culinary Category. Chan Is the Maitre d’/General Manager of Vancouver’s Le Crocodile Restaurant and owner of a food truck promoting sustainable living.

Good Housekeeping Magazine’s Dames Susan Westmoreland, Food Director, and Sharon Franke, Director of Kitchen Appliances and Technology Department of the Good Housekeeping Institute, are hosting the Food and Wine Journalism Category winner Christine Burns Rudalevige, a food writer, recipe developer/tester, and food stylist from Brunwick, ME.

Two wineries offered LDEI Legacy awards in the Wine Category. Wente Vineyards, Livermore, CA will host Katie Groffman, a San Francisco chef and sommelier, for the 2015 wine harvest working with Dame Amy Hoopes, EVP Global Sales/Chief Marketing Officer, and Dame Carolyn Wente, CEO of the America’s oldest continuously-operated family-owned winery.

At Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville, WA, Dame Kari Leitch, Vice President of Communications and Corporate Affairs, will welcome Ashley Hawkins, Whole Foods Global Brand and Retail Marketing Program Lead, Austin, TX, to the oldest winery in Washington state.

Kelly Patkus, a Johnson and Wales University Chef Instructor from Charlotte, NC, will fly to Hawaii’s Big Island to spend a week with Dame Lesley Hill, CEO of Wailea Agriculture Group, the largest grower in America of fresh Hawaiian Hearts of Palm along with a myriad of tropical and subtropical fruits.

Dame Nancy Eisman will introduce Jennifer Moniz, Event Chef Bold American Events -- a prominent Atlanta catering company, to Los Angeles based Melissa’s, the largest distributor of specialty produce in the United States. 

Les Dames d’Escoffier International Names Nine Winners for Prestigious M.F.K. Fisher Awards Recognizing Excellence in Culinary Writing

Receiving more than 75 entries for the highly regarded and competitive M.F.K. Fisher Awards, Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) has named its 2015 winners and will award $2,900 to nine women food writers for excellence in culinary writing.

Named for lauded culinary writer Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, considered one of America’s greatest food writers, the awards are reflective of the organization’s mission in which its 1,900 women leaders in the culinary industry create a supportive culture in their communities to achieve excellence in the food, beverage and hospitality professions.

The grand-prize winner is Erin Byers Murray of Nashville, Tennessee, managing editor at Nashville Lifestyles magazine, who will receive a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and $1000 at the awards presentation on Saturday, October 31, at the Marriott Charleston at the LDEI’s annual conference. Murray won the Internet Category for “Sense of Self,” an entry detailing her mother’s loss of taste resulting from a concussion.

Dr. Ava Chin of New York City, Associate Professor, English, CUNY-College of Staten Island, won first prize in the Book Category for “The Search for a Wild Weed,” an excerpt about hunting for savory lambsquarters in a Brooklyn park, from her book Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal. She will receive a $500 cash award.

Janice Cook Knight of Santa Barbara, California, a book author and cooking teacher, was the winner of the Print Category and will receive a $500 cash prize for “Hurray for the Orange, Red and Gold: The Season for Persimmons,” published in Edible Santa Barbara. Her story encompasses personal anecdotes and historical information about this fruit that originated in China.

Other prize winners are:

Book Category

Second Prize ($100): Jen Karetnick of Miami Shores, Florida, Dining Critic, MIAMI Magazine, for the introduction from her book Mango

Third Prize ($50): Lea Eskin of Baltimore, Maryland, for “Let Rise” from her book Slices of Life

Internet Category

Second Prize ($100): Micki McClelland of Pipe Creek, Texas, for “Thanks, Dad” from My Table Magazine/SideDish online.

Third Prize ($50): Julia della Croce of Nyack, New York, for “Fancy Food Show: The Good, Bad and Ridiculous.”

Print Category

Second Prize ($100): Kim Ode, staff writer, for “The Baron of Brats,” from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Third Prize ($50): Lee Dean, Food Editor, Minneapolis Star Tribune, for “The Long Winter.”

“We’re thrilled to honor these outstanding food writers,” said CiCi Williamson, M.F.K. Fisher Awards chair. “The work from these women reflects creativity and extraordinary writing talent that highlights the prominent role food has in defining our culture. We are delighted to recognize these achievements by these well-deserving writers.”

Ten prominent magazine food editors, newspaper food editors, and book publishers judged the contest entries. The judges scored the entries on writing style, mastery of subject, topic and creative approach that shows author’s voice, and relevance to the reader.

Entries must have been nonfiction published in 2014 and could include analytical pieces, autobiographical explorations, and forays into culinary history.

Through the M.F.K. Fisher Awards, LDEI strives to highlight women writers whose work reflects creativity and insight; illuminates the pivotal roles of food, beverages and the arts of the table; and/or contributes to our knowledge of those who grow, produce or prepare nourishment. The writing awards are presented yearly and must be nonfiction analytical pieces, autobiographical explorations, or forays into culinary history.

LDEI is an invitational organization of women leaders in the United States, Canada and the UK in food, finebeverage and hospitality whose mission is education, advocacy and philanthropy. For more information and to read the winning entries, go to ldei.org.

The deadline to enter the LDEI’s 2016 M.F.K. Fisher Awards is March 31, 2016.

Recipe By Popular Demand: Creamy kale & vegetable salad with farm eggs & pumpernickel

Served at the Georgia Organics Farmers Feast and the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance Shaken Not Stirred Gala, this salad by Avalon Catering had so many rave reviews, we just had to share!
Many thanks to Dame Jenn Robbins and Dame Cathy Conway for providing this recipe for all to enjoy.

Creamy kale & vegetable salad with farm eggs & pumpernickel

Avalon Catering

Serves 14-16, unless they all want seconds…


4 bu     young curly leaf kale (or combo of varieties)

2c        garlic parmesan dressing, recipe to follow

8ea       hard boiled eggs, chopped

AN      radish, shaved thin on a mandoline

AN      carrot, shaved

AN      fennel, shaved

3c        pumpernickel croutons, recipe to follow


Destem & wash the kale; chop (no more than 1/2" thick) and place in a mixing bowl.  Dress the kale, coating thoroughly, and simultaneously massaging the kale.  Adjust seasoning & add additional dressing as needed.  Plate the kale in your desired serving vessel; top with shaved veg, eggs, and pumpernickel croutons.

Garlic-Parmesan dressing

Makes 4c


2 ea      garlic cloves, minced

4 ea      egg yolks

1oz      lemon juice

3T        white wine vinegar

AN      water, to thin (will need up to .5c)

1T        kosher salt

2.25c   olive oil

TT        fresh ground black pepper

.5c       parm, grated

Directions:       *use your choice of food processor or immersion blender for the dressing*

Combine the first 4 ingredients plus salt and mix thoroughly.  Slowly add your oil while continuing to mix to emulsify.  Add water to thin as needed.  When all of your oil is added, add black pepper and parmesan, then adjust seasoning as needed.

Pumpernickel croutons

For both the GO farmers feast and GOCA gala, they made a pumpernickel "crumble" from a lot of not-so-pretty bread scraps.  To keep this recipe simple, just make some croutons at home.  Small dice the bread, then toss with melted butter, salt, and toasted/ground caraway seed.  Bake in the oven until crispy.

Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Restaurant Association announce 2015 Georgia Grown Executive Chefs

Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black and Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) Executive Director Dame Karen Bremer announced the 2015 Georgia Grown Executive Chefs on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 at the GRA’s Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception, held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.

The four chefs for 2015 include: Chef Matthew Basford of Canoe in Atlanta, Chef & Dame Cathy Conway of Avalon Catering in Atlanta, Chef Jay Swift of 4th & Swift in Atlanta and Chef John Syzmanski of The Kroger Co.

“As we welcome another group of talented chefs into this distinguished program, we continue to further promote and foster relationships between Georgia farms and local chefs,” Black said. “Georgia has an ample amount of quality, local products that are available throughout the cooking season and these great products can continue to be showcased to the state’s culinary community via the Georgia Grown Executive Chef

“The 2015 chefs chosen for this program have exceptional experience and talent in their field and already demonstrate a strong support for Georgia grown products,” Bremer said. “These chefs will without a doubt do an excellent job representing Georgia’s restaurants and Georgia Grown and they will help continue to strengthen the relationship between Georgia’s chefs and farmers.”

These four distinguished chefs will join the current Georgia Grown Executive Chefs,
Chef & Dame Holly Chute, Executive Chef, Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program
- Chef Michael Deihl, CEC CCA AAC, Vice President of Culinary Innovation, A Kitchen Kalamity
- Chef Kevin Gillespie, Owner, Gunshow in Atlanta
- Chef & Dame Hilary White, Executive Chef, The Hil, A Restaurant at Serenbe
- Chef & Dame Jennifer Hill Booker, Executive Chef & Owner, Your Resident Gourmet in Lilburn
- Chef Linton Hopkins, Executive Chef, Restaurant Eugene/Resurgens Hospitality Group in Atlanta
- Chef Ahmad Nourzad, Executive Chef, Affairs to Remember Caterers in Atlanta
- Chef Dave Snyder, Owner & Executive Chef, Halyard Restaurant Group in St.
Simons Island
- Gary Coltek, Senior Director, Kennesaw State University Culinary and Hospitality
Services in Kennesaw
- Chef Roberto Leoci, Executive Chef, Leoci's Trattoria in Savannah
- Chef Marc Taft, Executive Chef, Chicken and the Egg in Marietta
- Chef & Dame Virginia Willis, Executive Chef & Food Writer, Virginia Willis Culinary
Enterprises, Inc. in Atlanta

The Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program seeks to promote the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown campaign statewide. Now entering its fourth year, the program offers participating chefs a mark of honor and distinction, while increasing awareness for both restaurateurs and consumers about which local Georgia products are available for the cooking season.

As the program grows, it will create a pathway for consumers to find Georgia Grown products in their communities in order to support local, seasonal foods when dining out. It also aims to highlight and involve public school culinary education and school food nutrition in terms of increased opportunities for Georgia Grown products, training and recipe development. The chefs will participate in a spring and fall school event, an organized farm tour, at least one seasonal cooking clip with the Department and at least one Georgia Grown cooking event designated by Black. 

For media inquiries, contact Rachel Bell, manager of marketing and communications, at (404) 467-9000 or rachel@garestaurants.org.