This is the program's third year helping women entrepreneurs scale their businesses. 

By Bridget Hallinan
June 04, 2019
Noam Galai/Getty Images

In 2017, the James Beard Foundation created the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program, designed to support restaurant owners and food entrepreneurs. 20 women are named fellows each year—the program, which was developed with Babson College, focuses on mentorship, education, and development. Alums include Kelly Fields from Willa Jean in New Orleans, and Emily Blount from Oxford, Mississippi’s Saint Leo Restaurant, named a 2019 semifinalist for the James Beard Outstanding Bar Program. This year’s fellows span all across the country, from Penny Chutima of Las Vegas’s critically acclaimed Lotus of Siam to Caroline Morrison, of The Fiction Kitchen in Raleigh. The program takes place from October 27 through November 1 at Costanoa Lodge in Pescadero, California.

"This year's WEL fellows represent the rich diversity of our industry and are an inspiring group of future leaders," Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation, said in a statement. "These women are ready to scale their businesses and expand their impact in their communities and beyond. We're excited to be providing them with the toolkit, resources, and network to help them deliver their vision and ambition for growth."

The news comes just a few months after the foundation announced the results of major policy changes it had enacted in order to “increase gender, race, and ethnic representation in the governance and outcomes of the Awards”—an answer to past criticism for disproportionately honoring white male chefs in the James Beard Awards. Changes included temporarily waiving submission fees for the Book, Broadcast Media, and Design Awards, as well as first-time entry fees.

Below, the full list of this year’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program fellows:

Ann Ahmed, Lat14 Asian Eatery, Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine, Golden Valley, MN

Mary Aregoni, Saigon Sisters, Chicago, IL

Caitlin Carney, Marjie's Grill, New Orleans, LA

Gina Chersevani, Buffalo&Bergen, Suburbia, Washington, D.C.

Penny Chutima, Lotus of Siam, Las Vegas, NV

Vicky Colas, Pro Kitchen Hub, Sunrise, FL

Christina Corvino, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, Kansas City, MO

Sonya Cote, Eden East, Hillside Farmacy, Austin, TX 

Sarah Ecolano, Copper River Fish Market, Cordova, AK

Rohani Foulkes, Folk Detroit, Farmer's Hand, Detroit, MI

Sarah Gavigan, Otaku Ramen, Nashville, TN

Jocelyn Guest, J&E Small Goods, New York, NY

Katy Kindred, Hello, Sailor, Kindred, Davidson, NC

Tiffany MacIsaac, Buttercream Bakeshop, Washington, D.C.

Tim McDiarmid, Tim the Girl, The Good Kind, San Antonio, TX

Caroline Morrison, The Fiction Kitchen, Raleigh, NC

Nikki Nickerson, Cowgirl Enterprises Restaurant & Retail Group, Rosemary Beach, FL

Evelyn Padin, Hardgrove Restaurant, Jersey City, NJ

Teresa Razo, Cambalache & Villa Roma Restaurants, Orange County, CA

Trish Rothgeb, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, San Francisco, CA

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