American Lamb Board strengthens foodservice relationships with the LEE Initiative
The American Lamb Board recently sponsored the LEE Initiative Women’s Culinary and Spirits Program. The WCSP brought 10 female chefs and five female spirit mentees from across the country together for a year of programming and mentorship. The LEE Initiative has expanded its mission to bring more gender equity to the restaurant industry through mentorship programs and continuing education. They have identified a critical need for more women chefs and beverage managers in leadership roles within the independent restaurant sector. The LEE Initiative’s WCSP addresses this void in leadership, bringing qualified women into the kitchen and equipping them with new skills, expanding their capability and elevating their career pathway.
Over the course of the program year, the 15 mentees had the opportunity to spend a week in Kentucky enhancing their skills and learning new ones while building a sense of community. While in Kentucky the chef mentees spent the day at Freedom Run Lamb Farms where they learned to break down a whole lamb and prepared a lamb dinner to share together on the farm. Freedom Run Lamb Farms is an exemplary, woman-owned and run farm that helped the mentees set the standard for their own future farm-to-table partnerships.
“One of the goals of our industry long range plan is to grow awareness and increase usage of American Lamb among chefs,” said Gwen Kitzan, American Lamb Board chairman. “This unique sponsorship gave us the opportunity to do that while also supporting female chefs and highlighting a female shepherd”
With this being the fourth year of the program, every woman who has gone through WCSP to date has risen through the ranks in her current position. Three of the mentee graduates have opened their own establishments; another participant has created a program to train youth in the culinary space and has built a career as a life-long mentor herself. The program has generated considerable media coverage throughout the foodservice sector.
The American Lamb Board is funded by the American Lamb Checkoff and is charged with building awareness and expanding demand for American Lamb and strengthening its position in the marketplace, thereby increasing the potential long-range economic growth of all industry sectors.
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