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A Seat at the Table: EDENS’ Sunday Supper Celebrates 10th Anniversary

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Ten years ago, EDENS began hosting grassroots Sunday Suppers at Union Market, a discovery destination in Washington, DC, that has expanded beyond its origins as a food market to include shopping, dining, arts and entertainment. Rooted in community, this festive event has long celebrated the value of human connection that can be found around the table. Like any true family meal, at Sunday Supper, diners convene around a shared experience that encourages conversation and connection while showcasing the culinary industry’s brightest stars.

As Union Market District continues to evolve with the changing landscape, so has Sunday Supper’s philanthropic mission. Along with generous support from our guests and sponsors, EDENS’ CEO Jodie McLean has initiated and established the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (WEL), in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. For the past six years, WEL has been the primary beneficiary of these events.

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We believe in creating places that breed a culture of togetherness and human familiarity, where people are naturally inspired to gather and communicate. Few experiences capture the warmth and authenticity of cohesive communities than the cultivation, preparation and sharing of a delicious family-style meal.

Jodie McLean CEO, EDENS

Advancing Female Leadership in the Culinary Arts

According to the National Restaurant Association, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, women owned one in three restaurants. According to the same source, approximately one in six restaurants closed during the pandemic—almost certainly a direct hit on women-owned businesses and a huge blow to the country’s second largest private sector employer, representing $2 trillion of the U.S. economy.

The percentage of head chef positions held by women at prominent restaurant groups in the U.S. continues to trail behind Fortune 500 CEOs who are women (7% compared to 8.2%). It is the express goal of WEL to close the gender gap that persists in the restaurant industry at the executive level. Women in the culinary community and workforce who are empowered with the necessary entrepreneurial and leadership skills will lead the way toward industry recovery from a place of equity, inclusivity and resiliency.

Proceeds from EDENS’ annual Sunday Supper event support a scholarship fund for women chefs/owners to attend WEL’s entrepreneurship and leadership training program at an accredited university. The curriculum addresses advanced business and finance practices related to starting and expanding a business, in addition to gender-specific training and development.

Celebrating Success

Today, we celebrate nearly 100 WEL graduates who have successfully grown their restaurant or food business.

WEL fellow Daniella Senior is founder and CEO of Colada Shop, partner at Michelin-starred Bresca and co-founder of Serenata and Zumo. Here’s what she says about her experience as a participant:

“The WEL program has been the gift that keeps on giving, from the incredible knowledge received in the classes themselves to the amazing group of women that have become a strong support system, as well as the further career opportunities that have blossomed from it! I am beyond grateful to be part of the WEL community!”

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This combination of knowledge, people, resources and opportunity has allowed me to grow our business and expand during the pandemic.

Daniella Senior CEO, Colada Shop

WEL fellow Violeta Edelman is founder and CEO of Dolcezza, which first opened its doors in July 2004 and currently operates seven stores, plus a wholesale factory that serves numerous retail locations.

“More than anything, the WEL program gave me a community of like-minded women entrepreneurs who I have consulted and who have offered many hands since getting together for the first time,” says Edelman. “During the pandemic, WEL showed the true value of community more than any other moment in my life.”

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No one had a playbook for the pandemic. We were all able to learn from one another and have each other’s take on the situation.

Violeta Edelman Founder and CEO, Dolcezza

On September 12, 2021, we are excited to take a seat once again at the table for a special occasion that ensures our community of changemakers are empowered with the tools and training they need to lead us into the future.

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