Our Stories

Step Up, Reach Back and Dream Big


It's imperative to have more women leaders owning and operating thriving scalable businesses. The economic, social and cultural benefits to an entire organization, community and the industry are significant when women are in executive leadership roles and can impact policy, guide growth and set industry practices and norms. This isn't about fairness; it's about good business.

Jodie McLean CEO of EDENS

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the women leading the movement to drive lasting change in our world. We have clearly reached a pivotal moment for gender issues in the workplace. Increasing women’s leadership across all industries is vital.

Human engagement is cultivated around the table which makes the culinary industry the heart of community. More than any other industry, the culinary industry moves more people from economic instability to economic stability, employing more than 14.7 million Americans. The industry’s future potential is significant with projections to grow more than 50% over the next decade.

But here is the reality: women only hold 7% of executive chef positions, less than 20% of chef/head cook positions and receive 50% less funding than their male counterparts, despite being the majority of the food industry workforce.

Under Jodie McLean’s leadership, EDENS is proud to have created and launched the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) Program, a ground-breaking initiative of the James Beard Foundation (JBF) in collaboration with Babson College.

The WEL program, launched in 2017, comprises an annual fellowship for a class of 20 women to attend a five-day entrepreneurship and leadership training program at Babson College. Designed for women chef/owners of one or more restaurants or food businesses who seek growth, the curriculum tackles obstacles related to entrepreneurship and expansion, as well as provide gender-specific training and leadership development.

With more female leadership guiding this valuable culinary community and workforce, women can begin to reshape the policy-making process and industry norms, including: food sourcing processes, supply chain monetization, healthcare access, immigration reform, fair wages and workplace sexual harassment.


Through the support of Sunday Supper and the passion and commitment of Jodie McLean and her team at EDENS, we have built this critical program to advance women entrepreneurs. We know that when more women are at the helm, we can build a stronger, more inclusive industry.

Clare Reichenbach CEO, James Beard Foundation

Join us in Supporting the Next Class of Women Entrepreneurial Leaders and Celebrating our recent WEL Fellows

We look forward to continuing this journey on June 7th 2020 at EDENS’ annual Sunday Supper at Union Market District to raise funds for the class of 2020. We need you. Join us in this movement to elevate our female leaders and their voices in the culinary industry. On Sunday, June 7, your support will help ensure the success of this groundbreaking program and its incredible women. For partnership opportunities, please click here or contact us at [email protected]

WEL Fellows

From the last three annual Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership fellowship programs, EDENS has proudly helped 60 women across U.S. launch and scale their businesses, including the following:

  • Ann Ahmed, Lat14 Asian Eatery, Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine, Golden Valley, MN
  • Mary Aregoni, Saigon Sisters, Chicago
  • Caitlin Carney, Marjie’s Grill, New Orleans
  • Gina Chersevani, Buffalo & Bergen, Suburbia, Washington, D.C.
  • Penny Chutima, Lotus of Siam, Las Vegas
  • Vicky Colas, Pro Kitchen Hub, Sunrise, FL
  • Christina Corvino, Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, Kansas City, MO
  • Sonya Cote, Eden East, Hillside Farmacy, Austin
  • Sarah Ecolano, Copper River Fish Market, Cordova, AK
  • Rohani Foulkes, Folk Detroit, Farmer’s Hand, Detroit
  • Sarah Gavigan, Otaku Ramen, Nashville
  • Jocelyn Guest, J&E Small Goods, NYC
  • Katy Kindred, Hello, Sailor, Kindred, Davidson, NC
  • Tiffany MacIsaac, Buttercream Bakeshop, Washington, D.C.
  • Tim McDiarmid, Tim the Girl, The Good Kind, San Antonio
  • Caroline Morrison, The Fiction Kitchen, Raleigh, NC
  • Nikki Nickerson, Cowgirl Enterprises Restaurant & Retail Group, Rosemary Beach, FL
  • Evelyn Padin, Hardgrove Restaurant, Jersey City, NJ
  • Teresa Razo, Cambalache & Villa Roma Restaurants, Orange County, CA
  • Trish Rothgeb, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, San Francisco
  • Nikki Berglund, Luna Fargo, Fargo, ND
  • Beth Black, FOODE, Fredericksburg, VA
  • Emily Blount, Saint Leo Restaurant, Oxford, MS
  • Claire Calvin, Dinners on the Porch, LLC, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Joanne Canady-Brown, The Gingered Peach, Lawrenceville, NJ
  • Jennifer Caswell, Bryan Caswell Concepts, Houston
  • Esther Choi, mokbar and ms. yoo, Brooklyn, NY, 2018 Audi WEL Fellow
  • Caitlin Corcoran, Ça Va, Kansas City, MO
  • Sandra Cordero, GASOLINA, GASOLINA Cafe, and Pancake, Los Angeles and Oxnard, CA; 2018 Audi WEL Fellow
  • Violeta Edelman, Dolcezza, Washington, D.C.
  • Kelly Fields, Willa Jean, New Orleans
  • Katy Gerdes, Angel Food Bakery & Donut Bar, Minneapolis
  • Ping Ho, Marrow and The Royce, Detroit
  • Sandra Holl, Floriole, Chicago
  • Joanna Kirkendall, Pleasantry and 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, Cincinnati
  • Danielle Leoni, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Phoenix
  • Fiona Lewis, The District Fishwife, Washington, D.C.
  • Ann Marshall, High Wire Distilling Co., Charleston, SC
  • Kari Seher, MELT Ice Creams, Fort Worth, TX
  • Daniella Senior (Colada Shop and Bresca, Washington, D.C.)
  • Bleu Adams, Black Sheep Cafe, Black Sheep @ Epic Brewing, Provo, UT
  • Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon, Orlando, FL); Women Chefs and Restaurateur Fellow
  • Amy Brandwein, Centrolina/Chef Amy B, LLC, Washington, DC
  • Christine Cikowski, Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Sunday Dinner Club, Chicago, IL
  • Meredith Corey-Disch, Community Loaves, Jacksonville, FL
  • Kimi Eklund, Kimi’s Chop & Oyster House, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Gina Gruenewald, Wolf Peach/ Supper, Milwaukee, WI
  • Liza Hinman, The Spinster Sisters, Healdsburg, CA
  • Alicia Hinze, The Buttered Tin, St. Paul, MN
  • Tanya Holland, Brown Sugar Kitchen, Oakland, CA
  • Sarah Huck, Kos Kaffe, Brooklyn, NY
  • Carolyn Johnson, 80 Thoreau, Cambridge, MA
  • Vivian Joiner, Sweet Potatoes-a restaurant, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Guisell Osorio, Sabores Del Sur, Walnut Creek, CA
  • Nicole Pederson, Found and The Barn, Evanston, IL); Women Chefs and Restaurateur Fellow
  • Marian Romano, Nonna’s Osteria, catering & Potato Palace, booth State Fair, Wasilla, AK
  • Suzanne Simon, Chaia – Farm to Taco, Washington, DC
  • Lien Ta, Here’s Looking At You, Los Angeles, CA
  • Shannan Troncoso, Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen, Washington, DC
  • Jan Wichayanuparp, Sweet Republic, Phoenix, AZ
  • Elizabeth Wiley, Meadowlark Restaurant, Wheat Penny Oven and Bar, Dayton, OH

Above: Inaugural WEL Program Class of 2017

Below: WEL Program Class of 2018 (left) and WEL Program Class of 2019 (right)