On Sunday we attended the Cherry Bombe Jubilee, a gathering of women in various aspects of the food world — chefs, writers and entrepreneurs, to name a few. The day was packed with inspiring panels, presentations, and conversations with the likes of Ina Garten and April Broomfield, exploring topics such as effective leadership, social impact, and modernist cooking.
Here are 22 takeaways from an exciting, thought-provoking day celebrating women in food:
1. Hunger kills one in nine people — that’s more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Here’s how Lauren Bush Lauren is helping to provide nutritious meals to children across with world with FEED.
2. Sweetgreen President and CEO Karen Kelley shared her top three principles for authentic leadership: keep it real, make an impact and add the sweet touch (read: be present and make meaningful connections). She also repeated some advice from a mentor that has stuck with her over the years: “You’ll never achieve your leadership potential if you don’t get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
3. In a video created just for Cherry Bombe, Alice Waters, Danny Meyer and Thomas Keller shared words of wisdom for young cooks. The best advice Danny Meyer ever received was from his grandfather, who said, “The definition of business is problems.”
4. A tip from Thomas Keller: be patient, and enjoy the learning moments. You won’t be a commis forever.
5. “Don’t ever compromise.” — Alice Waters
6. Caroline Randall Williams, author of the cookbook Soul Food Love, says we need to “strip away the snobbery” associated with healthy eating, local sourcing, and organic food. Those without access to a farmers’ market can still benefit from eating more frozen veggies.
7. Ina Garten is endlessly quotable. Some favorites:
- On her guiding principle: “Fun is the most important. If you do stuff for money it never works out.”
- On hiring: “You can teach people about cheese, but you can’t teach people how to be happy.”
- On working hard: “I do the best job I can possibly do that day and then I go home and have a good time.”
- On taking the leap: “If it’s not scary, everyone would do it. You need to work scared.”
8. Ina’s favorite cookie: Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk.
9. And her best tip for designing a kitchen: get TWO dishwashers.
10. Martha Hoover, owner and president of the restaurant company Patachou Inc., tells chefs and restaurants to make giving a “part of your company’s DNA.” The more you grow, the more you can (and should) give. In one year her Patachou Foundation has provided meals to 7,500 food-insecure children in her Indianapolis, Indiana community.
11. New York is one of two states that automatically arrests and prosecutes 16-year-olds as adults. Jordyn Lexton helped create Drive Change, a fleet of food trucks with a side of social justice, to give work opportunities to young people coming out of jail and prison in New York.
12. Padma Lakshmi studied to be an actress, but she had a lot more fun working on the set of food shows than she did acting in the movie Glitter.
13. One of the best compliments Padma ever received was from Eric Ripert, whom she overheard on the set of Top Chef saying, “Padma has a really sensitive palate.” She admits: “I held on to that.”
14. In interviewing dozens of female chefs, writer Charlotte Druckman found that only two of them were using modernist culinary techniques.
15. What inspires Chef Dominique Crenn? A “poopoo platter” shared with her friends at home, plus plenty of wine and conversation that lasts until the morning.
16. Chef Elise Kornack of Brooklyn’s Take Root explains why she opened a 12-seat tasting menu restaurant in her home, saying, “I never clicked in restaurant kitchens. It’s not selfish, it’s just what I wanted to do.”
17. Molecular gastronomy = “a bunch of crap words,” according to Dominique Crenn.
18. Babycakes founder Erin McKenna credits meditation with giving her the confidence and focus to start her own business. “I nailed five recipes and decided to open a bakery.”
19. Hearing former New York Times critic Mimi Sheraton call her food “lusty” and “marvelous” brought Chef April Bloomfield to tears.
20. April wanted to be a cop and actually applied to the force twice. The second time she was accepted to the Transport Police but turned it down. She admits she was attracted to the job at the Spotted Pig in New York because “secretly it was my dream to be NYPD.”
21. It turns out that April, also, is quite quotable. Some standouts:
- On food and cooking: “The details are what make you successful.”
- On working the line with her staff today: “I’m not going to stand there and watch them go down.”
- On her love of vegetables: “I love the way boiled broccoli rabe bites the back of your mouth.”
- On her first day of service at the Spotted Pig: “We forgot to order the plates.”
- March 29, 2015, in response to Gail Simmons: “That’s the first time anyone’s called me a restaurateur.”
22. April’s favorite thing to eat: chocolate. But she really misses the kippers in England, too.