Inside: how to use Facebook groups to promote your cooking classes. 

Summer 2016 Cooking Schools and Teachers Newsletter 

Letter From the Editor 

I am very excited about this quarter’s newsletter!  This edition is all about “girl power”!  We have an interesting look at the challenges of starting out as female chef back in the late 1970’s, by Elaine Cywnar, as well as an article about utilizing social media, specifically Facebook groups, as a communication tool, by Jordan Hamons. I would like to extend a special thank you to both of these chefs for your contributions to the newsletter this quarter.

It is truly amazing to think about the contrast between a female chef beginning her career forty years ago, versus one starting out in the new millennium. While the basic cooking techniques remain the same, communication technology has made learning, mentoring and cheering each other on, a fast and easy process. I am very grateful to the women chefs who have paved the way before me, and I am equally as appreciative for the ability, at present, to know that support, advice or a pat on the back are literally just a click away, thanks to the many new communication tools at our disposal.

I hope you will enjoy this newsletter, as well as what remains of your summer!

Cheers from Atlanta,

Lea Bowen
The Passionate Plate

Letter from the CS&T Chair  

Greetings from Hot Lanta!

And I mean HOT! Just like the rest of the country, we’ve experienced a wave of hot, humid summer weather - holding in the upper 90s most days. It means the range is shut down in my kitchen, and the grill is fired up outside. And oh! the salads we’ve made in the healthy kitchen this year have been only limited by our imagination. I’ve kept up with lots of wonderful blog posts by our section members, and have enjoyed running into various and sundry folks in the most delicious places.

Please enjoy this interesting article from member Elaine Cwynar, all about women chefs, and an informative piece on using Facebook groups as a communication tool, by Jordan Hamons.

Hope its a wonderful summer, please let me know if I can help you all in any way.

Nancy Waldeck 
Healthy Chef Partyologist
Taste and Savor

"You're the Chef?" Women at the Helm


In 1976, Newport, Rhode Island was hosting the Tall Ships.  As a new Culinary Arts graduate, I wanted to cook at the best restaurants there. The chef at the Newport Sheraton interviewed me for an hour, then told me he did not hire “girls”. When I said I was off to the “The Black Pearl”, he scoffed: “They don’t hire girls, either”. The owner at “The Black Pearl” didn’t spend much time interviewing me, because he did not hire “girls”, but asked where else was I going to apply. My final stop was next door at “The Clarke Cooke House” run by Chef Gilbert Deforges. "The Black Pearl" owner said Gilbert did not hire “girls” either, but told me to come back if I wasn’t hired. I could see a crack in the armor. 

French and imposing, Chef Deforges looked down at me for a long time deciding what to do with this blonde, upstart woman. I returned his gaze with a solid, challenging look.  He said, “Can you make a roux?” My first bench test! Without any idea where things were, or how much to make, I ran down to the hot line. I melted 10 pounds of butter in a sautoir, added enough flour to make “beach sand”, stirred well, covered and placed it in a 250°F oven to bake for 2 ½ hours. I got that job because the male chef always burned the roux.

In the 1980’s I was the chef at a yacht club in Massachusetts. I acquired the position only because my then business partner/husband wanted to work the front of the house. For our first wedding consultation, I prepared an elegant menu. When she met me, the mother of the bride was incredulous:  “You’re the chef?”  she asked. I expected mutual support, but realized she, too, was caught in the club’s patriarchal culture.  

Over the past 40 years, I have seen change in the strong sentiment that women can’t cook in a commercial setting. I’ve been a chef in elegant and sketchy restaurants, became the chef because the male chef had an alcohol problem and didn’t show up, served as chef on board research/sailing vessels, and owned my own businesses. My present job as Associate Professor/Chef/Retention Chair at Johnson & Wales University affords me the opportunity to act as a mentor to my students, especially young women. I always tell them "Never let anyone say you can’t achieve your goals."

Have things changed for female chefs since 1976? Absolutely! Is there more work to do? Tons! 

Here are a few facts:

  • In 2015 women held only 19.6% of the jobs as chefs/head cooks (US Bureau of Statistics)
  • Women hold only 6.3% of head chef positions at 15 prominent U.S restaurant groups (Vines)
  • Male chefs make almost 40% more, on average than women holding the same title. Nationally, a man hired as a director of operations for a casual chain in 2015 started at a salary of $108,333. A woman in the same post was hired at $67,000 (Romero)
  • Female executive chefs earn, on average, $19,000 a year less than their male counterparts. (Decker) 
  • “Changing jobs merely widened the pay gap.  A male chef who shifts from one position to another typically raises his salary by $6,246.  This is 30% more than a female chef making the same career jump.” (Romeo)
  • Of the 314 nominees for the James Beard Foundation Awards in 2016, only 10% were women. (Ho)
  • Of the more than 100 chefs worldwide who have 3 Michelin stars, only 6 are women (Elite Traveler) 

The most important attributes for any successful chef are determination, knowledge, stamina, and experience. Paying dues at lower paying jobs is part of the journey. Long hours, childcare costs, job insecurity, and the local and global economy are challenges for male and female chefs alike. But, as women climb the culinary ladder, there comes a time when their focus shifts for many changes and family responsibilities take precedence. Paid maternity leave may not exist. Any absence for birthday parties (watch "Burnt"), is viewed with askance by executive chefs. At the height of their earning power, many women opt to leave their culinary careers. 

The landscape, however, has slowly begun to change: 

  • In 2005 Cristeta Comerford, 10-year veteran of the White House kitchen, was selected by First Lady Laura Bush as the first female  executive chef. (Washington Post) Emma Bengtsson, 33, executive chef of Aquavit in New York City, was awarded two Michelin stars within six months after taking over the kitchen of the upscale Swedish eatery in 2014 (Vora)
  • In 2007, Clare Smyth of “Restaurant Gordon Ramsay” (UK) received 3 Michelin stars 6 years in a row, (Elite Traveler) 
  • Hélène Darroze’s London restaurant, “The Connaught” now has 2 Michelin stars. (Elite Traveler) 

These industry changes have created opportunities for young women chefs.  Those of us teaching this new generation, can provide further support in the classroom, through mentoring and through organizations like the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Women Chef Restauranteurs and Les Dames D’Escoffier. 

Keep watching the new generation of passionate women who are making their mark in the culinary field: Dominique Crenn, “Cat” Cora, Sara Moulton, Tina Nordström, Ingrid Hoffmann, Sophie Wright, Jeong Kwan, Niki Nakayama and Ana Ros.  Keep watching the new generation of passionate women who are making their mark in culinary. It’s the “Perfect Storm” of culinary education and professional women, inspiring and mentoring our cohorts. “ 

Works cited available upon request.

How to Use Facebook Groups to Stay Connected With Cooking Class Students


Earlier this year, I started using a Facebook group to stay connected with students from my cooking classes. I love how it allows for casual conversation, gives me the ability to share information, and allows them to ask me questions. Here’s how to get started with your own group: 

1. Create Your Group

You can start a group by choosing “Create Group” on the left hand menu of your Facebook home page. You’ll need to choose a name for your group and select the desired privacy options. I use the closed group option. Then, upload a cover photo and profile photo and you’re ready to get started. 

2. Buy A URL to Redirect to the Group

It can be complicated to find groups on Facebook and the search isn’t always reliable. I purchased a URL and set it up to redirect to my Facebook group. This way I can just tell people to go to and it takes them directly to my page. 

3. Promote Your Group in Class

I created a small flier to promote the group and I hand them out to every student in class. I also talk about the group in class and tell people how to find it and sign up. Don’t be afraid to pitch the group and give reasons why people should join. 

4. Invite People Via Email

I collect emails at all of my classes. I invite everyone to the group via Facebook and email them a reminder and include a link to the group. If you’re inviting them via Facebook, then make sure you get the email address that they use to login to Facebook or it won’t work. 

5. Post Consistently

I try to post 5-7 times per week. I’ll post photos of what I’ve been cooking or I’ll link to an interesting article. Sometimes I will just post and ask everyone else what they are cooking this week. You could consider having themed posts for each day of the week, i.e. post tips and tricks on Tuesdays. Also, don’t forget to use the group to promote your own classes and events. 

6. Encourage Interaction 

I encourage group members to comment with questions, post photos of their own cooking adventures, and ask for help from the group. Sometimes it takes people a little while to warm up and get comfortable, so don’t be discouraged if the group is quiet at first. Keep working at it and eventually the interaction will happen. 

7. Try New Things and Ask the Group for Feedback

This month, we are trying a virtual cookbook club. I suggested Maureen Abood’s Rose Water and Orange Blossoms and group members are cooking recipes and posting about them. The best part is that Maureen joined our group and is commenting and answering questions. I’ll ask the group for feedback, and if they enjoyed it, we will do it again next month.

You can check out my Facebook group by going to and then requesting to join. I’d love to have you in the group. Feel free to email me with any questions about starting your own Facebook group at

Copyright © 2016 International Association of Culinary Professionals, All rights reserved.

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