With females representing only 7 percent of executive chefs and restaurant owners in the U.S., Big Time Restaurant Group Executive Chef/Partner Lisabet Summa is teaming up with filmmaker Joanna James, to promote women in Florida’s hospitality industry. The two are hosting a screening of “A Fine Line,” which chronicles the experiences of James’ mother, Valerie James, as a chef/owner for the past 30 years. The film is also supported by the stories of other contemporary female chefs, including: Dominique Crenn, Barbara Lynch, Lidia Bastianich, Cat Cora, and more.
The panel discussion, screening, and cocktail party, “SOFLO Femmes in Food & Film,” will take place on Monday, June 25, from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Tower Club in the Region’s Bank Building at 100 SE Third Avenue, 28th Floor, Fort Lauderdale. The event proceeds will provide needed funding for the development and mentoring of organizations that support women in the hospitality industry. The event is sponsored by Big Time Restaurant Group. Additional supporters include Sysco, Ecolab, Restaurant Partners Procurement, Grand Western, Scalisi Produce, The Buzz Agency, and more.
Panelists include filmmaker Joanna James and her mother Chef Valerie James; Executive Chef Lisabet Summa, co-owner of Big Time Restaurant Group and its fifteen restaurants; Chef Lindsay Autry, a “Top Chef” alumna as well as the owner of The Regional. Beverly Raphael, President and CEO of RCC Associates, a woman-owned general contracting company that has built many of the top restaurants in the country, will appear on the panel as well. The moderator is Alexa Carlin (Founder of WEX, the Women Empowerment Expo).
The honoree will be Judith Olney. She is the author of Summer Food, Comforting Food, Judith Olney on Bread and The Farm Market Cookbook. Her books The Joy of Chocolate (the all time best-selling chocolate cookbook) and Entertainments both won James Beard Tastemaker awards. In addition, she produced the film Swank Farm.
Her articles have appeared in Gourmet, Conde Nast's Traveler, House Beautiful, Bon Appetit and Prevention. She has worked as a media spokesperson for many major food companies and appeared on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” and “CBS Morning.” She has cooked dinner for her friends the late Julia Child, Elizabeth David, and James Beard.
Joanna James and Lisabet Summa met in early May at the Annual Conference of the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Association in Minneapolis, where more than 300 women from across the country came together to learn, network, and discuss how greater opportunities for women can be created in the hospitality industry and beyond.
“The talented chefs and restaurant professionals at this conference were so passionate about promoting women in hospitality and we look forward to bringing the energy of that event to South Florida,” said Lisabet Summa. “I’ve been so fortunate to serve as executive chef at Big Time Restaurant Group and I want other women chefs to achieve success.
“I was raised by a single mom restaurateur and now being a working mom myself I realized how important it is for women to have equal opportunities in their careers,” said Joanna James. “She inspired me to create this film and to encourage the advancement of women in the industry and leadership as a whole.”
The evening will include a VIP reception with food and drink from Big Time Restaurant Group, a meet and greet with filmmaker Joanna James, the film screening and a lively Q&A session. A portion of the proceeds will help Jack and Jill Children’s Center, the oldest non-profit provider of early childhood education in Broward County. There is a direct correlation between early childhood education programs and an increase of women in the workforce.