wacs – women in waCs
Women in WACS is Gaining Wo/mentum!
The Women in WACS initiative was founded after the 32nd WACS Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, where women had taken an outstandingly active role in the organizing committee. But among the delegates from over 70 member countries were only a handful of women chefs, most notably perhaps Sirkka Ruottinen, the chef of the Finnish President. Supported by the past WACS Board, Susanne Metz set out to make the women members of the organization more visible through a series of profiles of accomplished women food professionals around the world. Culinary schools and professional kitchens have changed dramatically since Metz attended The Culinary Institute of America in the 1990’s: equal numbers of male and female students are now enrolled in culinary programs in the United States; more women work in professional kitchens and not just at the garde manger and patisserie stations. It is just a matter of time before a larger number of them assumes leadership positions, in kitchens, in companies, in their professional organizations. “If you run a restaurant whose close competitor draws larger crowds even though the quality of the food and service are about the same, you try to get to the bottom of your competitor’s success, right?” asks Metz. “When you realize that your competitor’s offerings accommodate the changed demographics of your neighborhood-more children, more teenagers, more seniors, whatever it is--, won’t you tweak your menu to draw that clientele into your restaurant?” “Chefs are good in menu engineering. This skill is what we count on for Women in WACS. With the great support of the WACS Board, 12 World Association of Chefs Societies
we aim to expand the organization’s ‘menu’ to make it speak to the growing number of women chefs and food professionals worldwide, and entice them to bring their vast talents into their national and international organizations.” The exchange of ideas at the Women in WACS Roundtable, held at the 34th WACS Congress in Santiago in January of this year and attended by about 40 wo/men , has given the initiative momentum. The mission statement was revised to embrace not just chefs but all food professionals: Women in WACS is an initiative within the World Association of Chefs’ Societies to make the increasing number of women members more visible, retain their talents for the food industry by introducing them to different career paths, and support them in their professional advancement through networking and mentoring. To facilitate social networking, Women in WACS has recently become a presence on Facebook growing to over 300 wo/men members from 38 countries. “Our goal is to engage as many member countries as possible and create a forum for discussions on how to best bring diversity from the kitchens into our organizations.” To better promote the initiative in all of the 93 WACS member countries, regional Women in WACS contacts have become key players. “They are active in their respective regions. They speak at least one of the local languages and can promote Women in WACS and answer questions regarding the initiative on a more personal level. They scout for candidates for the Women in WACS monthly