Our Stories

A Tasteful Catalyst For Change


When people from all backgrounds and experiences are represented in business, the range of perspectives and ideas they bring greatly improves decision-making and operations. Fair, equitable and inclusive labor practices make for a more vibrant and innovative workplace, but also help break down barriers and stereotypes in our society-at-large. 

These values are embodied in our mission and by the Women’s Empowerment & Entrepreneurship Program (WEEP), an initiative of EDENS’ 501(c)3 philanthropic foundation that supports career advancement and financial wellness for women AND minority business owners. 


Fostering equity in the culinary industry is important to EDENS because much of our retail community is composed of professionals working in this field–one where women leaders are underrepresented: Of the approximately 147,434 chefs currently employed in the United States, 25.2% are women. In 2021, they made 81 cents to the dollar men earned; women make $8,528 annually than males for the same job. 

Increasing the number of women chefs and entrepreneurs is critical for promoting diversity front-of-house as well as in the kitchen. This ensures there are more visible role models for aspiring chefs and better reflects the changing demographics of diners which, in turn, improves the customer experience. Through WEEP and our annual Sunday Supper event, we are highlighting these fair and equitable practices to re-frame the policy-making process on behalf of our country’s second largest private employer. 



We are grateful for the support we receive over the years, which has served to sustain a thriving James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program that now boasts 186 alumnae who own 290 businesses across 38 states and employ more than 2,000 full-time and 1,900 part-time staff.  

The LEE Initiative was co-founded by Chef Edward Lee and Lindsey Ofcacek with a mission to address and advocate for a more diverse, compassionate, sustainable and equitable restaurant industry by providing innovative and impactful solutions. Programs include leadership pathways for women in the food and beverage industry, restaurant workers relief, restaurant reboot relief, culinary education and a collaboration with the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice. The organization was recently named the 2024 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year.

Regarding Her (RE:Her) continues to play a crucial role in supporting female entrepreneurs in the culinary industry across the country, with an emphasis on spotlighting women-owned food and beverage small businesses in DC and Los Angeles. Since 2023, RE:Her has increased membership by 40%, currently serving 275 women owners and leaders in the community. The ultimate social impact goal is more equity, inclusion, wellbeing, support and access to resources by leveraging our common need for food, connection and uplifting experiences. 


Our signature event at Union Market District in Washington, DC, Sunday Supper is an annual celebration of the collaborative spirit of this unique community. It’s a fantastic opportunity for lively conversation around ways to make our food scene more dynamic and equitable, while delighting in the incredible talents of our featured chefs and makers. 



Great food, lots of fun and collective action—it’s all on the menu. As you savor each course, remember your presence fuels our mission.

Jodie McLean CEO, EDENS

Here are a few parting words from DC’s culinary leaders to carry forth into your own communities. See you next year!