On March 4, a group of talented women will work together to support women in need. Six female chefs working in Long Beach are joining forces in “Chefs for Change,” a six-course dinner to benefit WomenShelter Long Beach (WSLB).
The event will be held at taste wine-beer-kitchen, 3506 E. Broadway. Taste owners Laurie Semon and Erin O’Hagan said they host events like this because they value the Long Beach community and want to give back in ways that matter. Semon, O’Hagan, and head chef Brad Neumann decided to focus this year’s outreach on women and children.
“Fate had a hand in seating some of us from taste with some people from the shelter at this past year’s Long Beach Hospitality Awards,” Neumann said. “We raised the possibility to them and the idea took off from there.”
Having chosen to support a local women’s charity, Neumann said it seemed natural to raise money with a dinner showcasing local female chefs. Colossus Bread chef/owner Kristin Delfs, Ammatoli Mediterranean Bites chef/owner Dima Habibeh, Chef Tech Cooking School chef Alex Loftus, taste wine-beer-kitchen cook Ysenia Martinez, Wide Eyes Open Palms chef/owner Kat McIver, and Long Beach Beer Lab baker Harmony Sage will prepare the meal. Donations from female owned and/or female winemaker wines will be paired with the food.
“Women still face many challenges in the workplace,” Neumann acknowledged. “The cooking world is certainly no exception to the rule…men far and away dominate this scene, especially as owners and/or head chef positions.”
“All aspects of the food industry are male dominated,” Semon said. “It’s getting better, but much more can still be done.”
“’Bro-culture’ in the kitchen does seem to be on notice,” Delfs said, “but I don’t believe things for women in the kitchen will improve greatly until there are more women owning and running kitchens and setting a focused and respectful tone for the restaurant.”
Delfs shared her enthusiasm for the March 4 event and its cause. She also voiced her gratitude for restaurant owners like Semon and O’Hagan.
“There are a few restaurants in the area that do these sorts of dinners, but it just seems to be a rotating cast of the same top local male chefs being featured,” Delfs said. “It is lovely for us to have an opportunity to highlight each other in such a safe space. It is also a great opportunity to highlight an organization in our community that has offered services to women since the ’70s.”
WomenShelter Long Beach gives victims of domestic violence free, confidential emergency housing and services. Executive Director Mary Ellen Mitchell explained that, in addition to shelter, food, clothing, and personal items, WSLB clients also have access to free health assessments, legal advocacy, counseling, and life skills classes.
“Both last year and the year before, WomenShelter provided safe, supportive housing to close to 200 victims,” Mitchell said. “Within the next two months, we will open our second supportive housing facility, where we will be able to serve even more victims and their children.
“The generosity of Taste and the bold women of Chefs for Change will contribute to covering these costs and ensuring continued care and safety for victims of domestic violence and their children.”
Tickets to Chefs for Change are available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4095150.