I was invited to cover the 2016 Women Who Inspire Awards at Paramount Pictures Studios on April 18. It was the closing event during the two-day Women Chefs & Restaurateurs: Conference. WCR is a professional association that supports women from all walks in the food & beverage community. WCR President Ruth Gresser welcomed guests and introduced the Awards Presentation. Co-Hosts Ron Ben Israel and Waylynn Lucas announced the nominees and winners of the various awards. The first WCR Golden Glass Award went to General manager/partner Bella Lantsman of Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. She has been at the restaurant for over 32 years. Restauranteur and Interior Designer Barbara Lazaroff was so proud. Her Executive Pastry Chef Della Gossett won too.
It’s always fun to enter inside the gates on Paramount Pictures Studios and see the chefs and restaurants I write about and review. Here are 11 of my favorite experiences at the WCR Event-
- Beer & Chocolate – My first stop was at the Callebaut Cafe for a refreshing beer and cup of chocolates. I felt as if I was in Paris sitting at a bistro table while I nibbled on salted caramel chocolate balls and sipped a delightfully fruity beer. Callebaut is a Belgian chocolate brand, owned by the Barry Callebaut group. It was founded in 1911. http://www.callebaut.com/usen/homepage
- Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson from Madcapra – Biting into a falafel with labneh, pickled cauliflower, flowering cilantro, mint and celery on butter lettuce. Not only are this dynamic duo the darlings of DTLA Grand Central Market, but they shared with me they are working on opening Kismet Hollywood and Vermont in the Los Feliz area will open in about 6 months. I can’t wait – it’s fate they met, and destiny to feed Los Angelenos with their amazing food! http://www.madcapra.com
- Superba Food & Bread – Chef Vicki Fan made an amazing scallop with hazelnut butter and cauliflower caponata. The bread display wow’d guests. There are two locations with one in Venice and the other in El Segundo. http://www.superbafoodandbread.com/#about
4. Shirley Chung from Twenty-Eight Restaurant from Irvine – made an octopus dish that was the talk of the evening. It was superb. Chung is a BRAVO Top Chef finalist, and enjoys creating California flavors and cuisines from all over the world. Born in Beijing, China this dynamic chef has a sweet and playful personality. Her restaurant is located 19530 Jamboree Rd. between Fairchild Rd. and Centerpointe Rd. It’s adjacent to Google and Equinox. http://www.twentyeightoc.com
5. Barbara Lazaroff and Award winning pastry chef Bella Gossett enjoyed the evening as winners! Della’s honey dessert was visually beautiful and even had a tiny confectionary bumble bee on a honeycomb wafer cookie. You can experience Della’s pastry delights at SPAGO Beverly Hills.http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3635
6. Suzanne Goin of Tavern must be very proud of her Chef de Cuisine – Amy Deaderick. This talented chef’s braised pork cheeks was on a plate with pickled green tomatoes, cornbread panzanella, mustard creme fraiche and spiced bacon was heavenly. The pork was so tender and flavorful. Tavern is located in Brentwood – http://www.tavernla.com
7. I was so happy to see one of my favorite female chef’s – Megan Logan. I first met Megan at Patina Groups’ Nick & Stef’s DTLA. When the restaurant closed for a few months for reservations, celebrated restaurateur Nick Valenti and leading chef Joachim Splichal, didn’t want to lose Megan, so they moved her into the kitchen of their world-class premium Cafe Pinot. While talking I noticed that she is pregnant and due this summer. She plans to work up until the baby is ready to be delivered. At the WCR event she made a delightful octopus with Israeli Cous Cous. Cafe Pinot is DTL next to the Library Tower. https://www.patinagroup.com/cafe-pinot
8. The Executive Pastry chef Jen Shen and her staff at Wolfgang Puck in the Hotel Bel Air dazzled guests with her trio of desserts. https://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/hotel-bel-air/restaurant-bars/wolfgang-puck-at-hotel-bel-air/
9. Another pastry favorite was the take-home cookie box filled with a variety of cookies by Vanilla Bake Shop. There was a gluten-free Brownie Crackle; Salted Chocolate Chip with Maldon Sea Salt and an Everything Cookie with walnuts. The Vanilla Bake Shop has 3 shops with one about to open in Old Town Pasadena. http://www.VanillaBakeShop.com
10. I was excited to see Chef Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections. She had a cookie bar too with Durango Cookies, Chocolate Chip with Fleur de Sel, Ginger Snaps, Maple Brownies and a beautiful Floral Sugar Cookie. http://www.valerieconfections.com/
11. Chef Rebecca Merhej from Love & Salt made an amazing dish with roasted lamb, cucumber salad and olives. Her housemade labneh was superb. http://www.loveandsaltla.com
Chefs from all over attended this lively event, including women chefs from Alaska, New York, California, The South and Canada. I recommend attending the WCR Conference in 2017. You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that female chefs are the “Rock Stars” in the culinary world.