Over the course of eight weeks, The Women of Food visited seven cities, and invited thirteen chefs, collaborators, and purveyors to participate in this female-led movement. Together, they used the platform to talk about what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated industry; they gave speeches on building teams, creating safe spaces for creative work, and equipping the next generation with the tools and confidence to succeed.
And yet, the true connective force at each dinner was that each woman had a story to tell. These are the chefs who shaped The Women of Food, and these are their stories.
Chef Anne Quatrano sits on the steps outside of Bacchanalia, smiling and greeting guests as they arrive for cocktail hour. It’s springtime in Atlanta and the lawn surrounding her flagship restaurant is freshly cut and glowing green.
Connie Matisse, a local purveyor who’s been invited by Quatrano to participate in the series, takes stock of her wares piled high in the kitchen—an array of ceramic plates in speckled taupe, copper, and light blue—awaiting Quatrano’s farm-fresh preparations.
The mission of Matisse’s female-led team at East Fork Pottery, which is based in Asheville, North Carolina, is to revive the dying manufacturing industry of the American South. “We make beautiful things, we sell people things … [but] that’s just part of what we do,” Matisse begins in her speech to guests, “mostly, we offer long-term, equitable, sustainable jobs.”
Her goals align with Quatrano’s in that way, and others, like their shared vision for utilizing and highlighting all things local. Diners begin to snack on a simple crudité of produce, from Quatrano’s Summerland Farm, served with a zippy tonnato sauce. According to Quatrano, the decision to participate in The Women of Food “[was] a no-brainer.” For her, the series is meaningful in that “more than anything, it’s all about promoting [and] supporting women.”
As the sun that once poured in through the restaurant’s glass walls dims and the dining room’s string lights sparkle, a procession of artful dishes makes its way around the room: East Fork Pottery crowned with lightly cured duck under heapings of fresh spring peas. “We’re cooking on plates handcrafted in the South, [because] it’s important that we appreciate what a lot of these artisan vendors are creating down here,” Quatrano sings.