Chef Edward Lee creates program to empower women in 'male-dominated' restaurant industry
A famous Louisville chef is using his star power to empower women.
Edward Lee, the owner of 610 Magnolia, said the restaurant scene in Louisville and across the country is male dominated. So he's stirring up the industry by starting a mentorship program to encourage more women to become chefs.
“Up until the fall of last year, I wasn't aware of how rampant this problem was, and I'm learning too,” he said. “My eyes have been opened, and I feel terrible. It's awful that it's happening in the industry that I love.”
That inequality is something the general manager at 610 Magnolia, Lindsey Ofcacek, has been fighting for a long time. It was almost enough to drive her to quit the industry all together.
“I did experience [harassment] in the infancy of my career,” Ofcacek said. “Part of that led to me not wanting to have this as a long-term career. One thing that changed for me was around 10 years ago. I started working in restaurants that had a lot of women in leadership positions, and it was night and day. I didn't experience harassment. There was a lot of equality”
In a heartfelt Instagram post, Lee wrote that Ofcacek is helping him start the Lee Initiative to help five young women who work in Kentucky find mentorship in hopes they will enter positions of power and bring more equality into kitchens.
“They will do a mentorship program where they will mentor with a notable restaurant group all across America,” Lee said. “We have some incredible female chefs lined up all the way from Portland to Asheville to Atlanta.”
The program lasts for one year and applications are due Feb. 10. They will also train with Lee and get a chance to cook at the James Beard Foundation.
“It is everyone's dream to cook at the James Beard house, and were giving them an opportunity to get them there,” Lee said.
Lee added that it's a problem that won't get solved overnight, but he's hoping this next generation of female chefs will help.
To apply, click here.
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