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Taking the Lead

Taking the Lead
WRITER: 
June 2019

How FAB Workshop empowers women in the food & beverage industry



Participants at a 2018 workshop panel

For those in creative fields, running a business requires a different scope of knowledge that is often left unexplained before entering the professional landscape. Women working in male-dominated industries, like the culinary world, are particularly disadvantaged. As of 2017, 79 percent of head chef positions nationwide were held by men—suggesting that female leadership in food and beverage roles remain an uphill battle. But Randi Weinstein, founder of the FAB (“Females And Business”) Workshop, is hoping to provide women with practical knowledge to turn one’s cooking, pastry, or sommelier expertise into viable and lasting enterprises.

The two-day conference—held June 9 to 11 at the William Aiken House and the American Theater—encourages women in all facets of the industry, at any stage of their careers to take creative pursuits to the next level. More than 30 expert-led panels will take place, demystifying the most challenging aspects women face when breaking into, and growing within, hospitality. “Maybe you think you’re alone in it, working long hours, not receiving the compensation you deserve,” says Weinstein. “In an industry with a high burnout rate, we hope to support and motivate women.”

2019 Featured Speakers - (From left to right) Ann Marshall, cofounder of High Wire Distilling Co.; Dana Cowin, tastemaker & author; Barbara Lynch, chef/owner of Barbara Lynch Collective

This year’s theme, “The How-To Guide,” explores everything from practical tips (the art of negotiation, bookkeeping, pitching, and funding) to relationship-building (mentorship and the importance of forming intentional, inclusive, intersectional teams). Of the 54 speakers, local voices such as goat.sheep.cow co-owner Trudi Wagner and High Wire Distilling Company cofounder Ann Marshall, will appear along with renowned culinary figures from across the nation, including chef Barbara Lynch, chef Preeti Mistry, and former Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin.

But beyond the scheduled programming, Weinstein hopes FAB fosters a greater sense of community amongst its participants, peer to peer. Lunches, snack breaks, and cocktail receptions offer opportunities to keep conversation going beyond the panel time slots. Scholarships also provide financial assistance for those in need to attend.

Now in its third year, Weinstein is optimistic about the lasting impact FAB has on its attendees, who often forge connections that extend far beyond the duration of the workshop. “Women have returned to work feeling empowered. Change might not happen overnight,” says Weinstein, “but we’re giving women the tools to navigate this industry so they can succeed.”

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Photograph by (conference) Reese Moore Photography & courtesy of (headshots) FAB workshop