Meet the ladies behind FAB, the all-female food-and-bev workshop coming back for round two on June 11 and 12
PHOTO: Hope Troup (left) and Randi Weinstein in the College of Charleston Beatty Center, where FAB events are held
CM: Where are you two from?
RW: I grew up on Long Island, then I moved to the city for college. I worked in New York for a while after that, then made my way down to Charleston in 1988. The area looked totally different—there were hardly any restaurants, and certainly no Italian. When I called to order baked ziti or a pie, no one knew what I meant.
HT: I was born in Baltimore and when I was older moved to Denver, where I stayed for 10 years. About two years ago, I wanted to explore a bit more, so my husband and I picked Charleston on a map and decided to move.
CM: What roles have you played in F&B?
HT: Right now, I work at Le Farfalle in addition to helping with FAB. I’ve held every role from hostess to server to manager at lots of different places. My dream is to one day own a restaurant, which is a goal I share with a lot of other FAB attendees. I’d fall into the “101” category of our workshop, which is for people in the industry who want to learn how to take that next step to business ownership.
RW: Before this, I was the director of events for Charleston Wine + Food for seven years, and that’s when it really became apparent how many fewer female chefs there were than males, both locally and nationally. It didn’t make sense to me: we’ve always relied on our mothers and other women to cook, but they weren’t represented in restaurants.
CM: How have you seen the industry change through the years?
HT: I think people—women especially—are standing up for themselves more than ever now, in light of the #MeToo movement. Things like harassment in the workplace are finally being addressed, and workers have more of a voice.
RW: There are more women working in the industry, taking jobs as chefs and starting their own businesses. Seeing that empowerment has been great, but I still think we have a ways to go.
CM: What’s the story behind FAB?
RW: The idea was to bring a group of women from across the country together to discuss ideas, goals, and dreams. The first workshop was a slow, tedious birth. On opening night last year, it felt like the first day of school: people were worried about what to wear and say. But then everyone realized that they were all there for the same reason, and that’s when the conversation flowed and the magic started happening.
CM: What’s new for this year?
RW: We have a fresh lineup of panel discussions [programmed to the 101 or 202 tracks, which are geared towards novice workers and business owners, respectively], plus a new program called “Pitch It.” For this, 10 entrepreneurs we’ve selected are pitching their business plans to a group of experts, who’ll give their feedback and advice. It’s like Shark Tank, but not as scary.
CM: Who are you most excited to see?
HT: There’s a great group coming from New Orleans this year—including Kelly Fields, the chef-partner of Willa Jean bakery.
RW: I’m excited to hear Martha Hoover, who’s an awesome, feminist business owner from Indianapolis. Through her company, Patachou Inc., she’s opened several restaurants in Indiana that are totally female-led.
CM: What’s the scoop on tickets?
HT: The fee for the 101 track is $500, while the 202 track is $700. Both options include the welcome reception on June 10, plus two full workshop days [June 11 and 12]. You can find tickets and more info at www.thisisfab.com.