A panel discussion featuring leading women in the food & beverage industry.

Celebrating International Women’s Month 2023

In celebration of International Women’s Month, ICE hosted a panel with four successful industry insiders

Women are the backbone of the hospitality industry.

Women quite literally staff America's restaurant kitchens. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2022 restaurant statistics report, women comprise over half of the workforce staffing food service establishments.

The NRA also reports nearly half of the United States' restaurant firms are at least 50% owned by women — which is a higher percentage of women-owned businesses than in the US private sector overall. 

During International Women's Month and every month, ICE acknowledges and honors the continuing leadership of the incredible women in the hospitality industry. This year, on March 30, ICE organized a panel of women in the culinary field to share their experiences with students.

The panel featured Emily Yuen (Lingo), Helen Nguyen (Saigon Social), Ali Rosen (Potluck with Ali) and Luisa Caicedo (Wayan) came to ICE to speak to students. Of the four panelists, Nguyen and Caicedo are both ICE alumni. Students asked engaging questions and the chefs gave inspirational advice about the restaurant and food media industry. 

After a round of rapid-fire icebreakers by co-hosts Abbe Lewis, ICE's Content Director, and Lisa Preti, Assistant Dean of Students, the chefs dove into topics like restaurant ownership and mental health. From being working parents to opening restaurants together, the four panelists had a lot to talk about with their experiences in food. The panelists shared their secrets to persevering in a challenging industry.

“[It’s important] to know what part brings you joy,” Ali says. “You need to tap into what it is that you love about this industry that is not external, but internal. As long as you keep your love of why you’re working in the food space, it’s what will keep your mental health in the right place.”

“I used to be frustrated by all the things I couldn’t control,” adds Chef Luisa. In the ever-changing world of food, she advises students to keep focus on their long-term goals. “It’s a tough industry, but at the end of the day, there’s a rewarding feeling that gets you through it all.”

Related: Female Restaurateurs Form RE:Her to Empower Women Entrepreneurs in LA

The panelists also emphasize the importance of taking advantage of opportunities as ICE students. 

“It’s so incredibly important — I can’t stress enough — how valuable the family and foundation at ICE has been for networking,” says Chef Helen. 

“Surround yourself with people that support you, like genuinely support you,” adds Chef Emily. “Sharing your journey and your struggles, they’ll share a story, and you’ll have similarities and support each other.

Find the full recording of the panel on YouTube.

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