The Magazine for Culinary Insiders

At the Table:
Toasting Women Chefs & Restaurateurs 

Thursday, June 29, 2006
by Liz Warton

On Thursday, June 29, the Prince George ballroom filled with women who love to eat and the talented female chefs who love to feed them. Women Chefs & Restaurateurs celebrated their first annual At the Table New York with fourteen prominent women chefs who hosted the reception, auction and five-course dinner. At the Table is a series of events taking place around the country to benefit the WCR scholarship and internship program for women in all sectors of the culinary field.

The reception featured a wide range of innovative hors d’oeuvres that paved the way for the lavish five-course dinner. Guests were greeted with beautiful plates of brightly colored radishes dressed in olive oil from Jody Williams of Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano in New York. Nora Pouillon of Nora & Asia Nora in Washington D.C., who was one of the first chefs to lead the way for sustainable seafood, showcased her expertise with a Ginger-cured Wild Salmon Tartar with hints of Kaffir lime leaf perched on top of a crunchy nori tempura crisp.Chefs Margaritte Malfy and Barbara Sibley of La Palapa in New York, showed off their authentic Mexican cuisine with Black Bean and Epazote Empanadas Doraditas dotted with Serrano Chili Salsa, Chile de Arbol and fresh Crema. The favorite of the evening was the Lobster Roll, a signature dish from Chef Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar.

Dinner was prepared by six influential New York chefs and included an unusual Duck Schnitzel with Beet and Orange Salad in Hazelnut Brown Butter and a Hoisin Duck Spring Roll from Patricia Yeo of Sapa. Other standout dishes included a Fava Bean & Escarole Salad with Mint, Basil and Pecorino from Jody Williams of Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano and a Smoked Barramundi with Sweet Peas, Shiso and Wasabi from Anita Lo of Annisa. Other participating chefs included Amy Scherber of Amy’s Bread, Mary Cleaver of the Cleaver Company, Elizabeth Katz of Fiamma Osteria, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez of Lassi, Ellen Mirsky of Public, and Amanda Freitag &Vera Eisenberg of Sette Enoteca e Cucina.

Honorary chair Sara Moulton introduced the evening’s program with a story about looking for work in the male dominated restaurant world of the 80s. When she applied to what was considered at the time the best restaurant in the country, the French chef politely told her he was so sorry but he had no positions open. Later she found out from someone who had worked there that he had been known to say on many occasions that he would rather close his restaurant than hire a woman.

WCR has worked hard over the past thirteen years to promote the education and advancement of women in the restaurant industry and the betterment of the industry as a whole. This year the organization will offer 37 educational opportunities through their Scholarship & Internship program, designed to provide education, travel, wine studies and internships to women in the restaurant industry.