This past weekend I was invited to attend the Cherry Bombe Jubilee hosted by Cherry Bombe Magazine. The Jubilee was a two day event filled with food, women, and the women who make and celebrate food. On Saturday, there was a series of panels and Q&A sessions with influential women working in food. On Sunday, there was a marketplace of food vendors, though I was unfortunately unable to attend the Sunday event.
Cherry Bombe Magazine is a “publication that celebrates women and food—those who grow it, make it, serve it, style it, enjoy it and everything in between.” They also host a Radio Cherry Bombe, a radio show/podcast that features women in the food world. Unsurprisingly, this is a publication that speaks to my feminist, foodie heart.
[Side note: I didn’t get a chance to take any photos at the event, so I’m just including a few recent snaps taken in NYC]
I was so honored to be invited to this event, but I had no idea what to expect. For instance, initially I asked my man Max to be my “plus one” this event. If he’s my date to weddings, why wouldn’t he be my date to an event hosted by women for women?
Luckily, Max is more adept at understanding social cues than I am, and so he very honestly told me that he was most certainly not attending this women’s event with me. Not because he doesn’t support women (he’s a proud feminist, #pussypower). But because he realized that this was an event hosted by women to celebrate women and for women to attend, a piece of information that somehow escaped my attention. After I arrived at the event, I was able to confirm his theory, as I spotted just three men out of hundreds and hundreds of women. And two of those men were catering the event. So, yeah, Max was right.
Now that we’ve discussed my inability to accurately read social invitations, let’s talk about the event itself.
The weekend event was hosted by Cherry Bombe Magazine and sponsored by some of my favorite brands, including Whole Foods, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Chop’t, Amazon Kitchen, and OpenTable. It took place at the darling Highline Hotel, which you should definitely visit if you’re in the NYC area. Lots of hipster Instagram opportunities there. #doitforthegram
The moment I walked into the main auditorium, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of awe and amazement. There was a sea of literally hundreds of women–strong, badass women who were there to support other women. Many of them worked in food, some were aspiring entrepreneurs, and all of them were united in their frustration and fear over the current political climate. It felt like our own mini Women’s March. Except we took breaks to eat fancy gourmet food instead of to stuff our faces with granola bars in between rounds of yelling, “Hands too small, can’t build a wall” (my favorite protest chant so far).
I left the event that evening feeling extremely inspired to work on new projects and give more attention to ongoing projects, to approach my work with more zeal and authenticity, and to support my local community. Before I get too emotional, let’s talk about the highlights of the day for me.
Panel: Food, Social Justice, Action
This panel featured five amazing advocates in the area of food and social justice. For background, the intersection of food and social justice can take many faces, from sustainability and plant-based movements to making healthy food accessible to low-income people and eradicating food deserts. This part of the event resonated with me the most, since I come from a social justice / law background and now work in the food industry.
(Tangent: I spent most of college and law school working on progressive, feminist, anti-racist issues and worked as a human rights lawyer before moving into the world of food.)
Here are some of bits of advice from this panel that I found incredibly helpful and/or inspiring. I’ve linked to the speaker’s businesses or bio pages so you can learn more about these phenomenal women.
- Healthy food is not a commodity reserved for rich white people. We need to find ways to make healthy food available to all people. -Ora Wise, culinary director of Harvest & Revel, a women-run, Brooklyn-based catering company that celebrates natural, organic, and local ingredients.
- Do your part, however small or big it may be. Volunteer at your local food pantry, join a grassroots organization, or ask your CEO to donate a portion of profits to your local food bank. –Margarette Purvis, CEO of Food Bank for New York City.
- Food injustice IS racial injustice. People of color are disparately impacted by food deserts, lack of access to affordable healthy food, and diet-related illnesses. -Shakirah Smiley, co-founder of Nourish | Resist, a multiracial organization that uses food as a platform to fight for social justice.
- Just because you’re running a business, it doesn’t mean that profits have to be your only bottom line. Your business can demand sustainability and ethics as well. -Erin Patinkin, CEO of Ovenly, a women-owned NYC bakery that employs a diverse group of people, including political refugees and formerly incarcerated individuals.
Barbara Lynch + Kristen Kish
Having lived in the Boston area during law school, I was super excited to see this duo in action. Barbara Lynch is quite possibly the most famous chef in Boston, owns eight restaurants, and is an all-around badass. Kristen Kish started as Lynch’s mentee and went on to win Top Chef Season 10 at the ripe old age of 29 (my current age, sigh). I actually met Kish in 2012 when I visited Stir, Lynch’s demonstration kitchen, for a semi-private gourmet cooking class, and I’ve been a fangirl ever since.
Lynch has a life story fit for a memoir, which is exactly what she did this year with Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire. Growing up in a South Boston housing project, she was the youngest of six children and survived on a diet of canned food and cigarettes. She didn’t finish high school and has ADHD and dyslexia. Yet, her undeniable culinary talent and grit elevated her from poverty to the second female chef to win the James Beard award.
Aside from her compelling life story, she’s an unapologetic feminist who’s made a big place for herself at a typically male-dominated table. She told us to “dream big,” even if it seems silly or stupid, because if you don’t start big, then what’s the point? She explained how, in an industry where the customer always comes first, her staff members come before the customers. Having never received an education herself, she prioritizes the education of her staff members above all else so that they can become masters in food and wine. She explained how each of her restaurants and many of her dishes are inspired by particular memories and phases in her life. By the end of their conversation, there wasn’t a single uninspired person in the room.
Kitchen Crush with Five Amazing Food Bloggers
The last segment of the afternoon was a Q&A panel with five well-known food bloggers: Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker, Lyndsay Sung of Coco Cake Land, Molly Yeh of My Name Is Yeh, and Jocelyn Delk Adams of Grandbaby Cakes. Being a bit of a food blogger myself, I felt I could relate a bit to these (much more successful, established, experienced) women.
Here are a few things I loved hearing from each of these women:
Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen
- The grandmama of food bloggers. Not because she’s old but because she was one of the first food bloggers out there, starting in the early-mid 2000s
- Loves to cook and recipe develop but definitely doesn’t consider herself a “domestic goddess”
- The secret to delicious carrot sticks: soaking them in salt water
Joy Wilson, Joy the Baker
- Getting fired from her job as a cheesemonger helped inspire her to purse her foodie entrepreneur career path
- Proud feminist and not afraid to express her politics on her blog
- Favorite gift to give a host/hostess: banana bread
Lyndsay Sung, Coco Cake Land
- A badass breast cancer and chemo survivor
- Lives in a “weird lil’ butt town n Canada”
- Infuses her feminism into her work with humor, like baking cakes that say “the future is female“
Molly Yeh, My Name is Yeh
- Started practicing food photography in her bedroom (like me!)
- Her go-to dinner in a pinch: potato chips and ketchup
- Moved from Brooklyn to a farm in North Dakota; misses NYC bagels very much.
Jocelyn Delk Adams, Grandbaby Cakes
- Learned how to bake treats like peach cobbler and pound cake from her grandmother
- Negative events in your career don’t mean “No”; they just mean there’s a new path for you to take.
- She’s all about the tradition, but she’s also a badass entrepreneur, feminist, and the breadwinner in the household
I’d be remiss if I didn’t finish this post by mentioning the delicious food served at the jubilee. For lunch, we had salads specially designed by Chop’t and Salad for President. My vegan salad came with spiralized noodles, olives, pickled peppers, and crunchy chickpeas in a lemon tahini dressing, and when I mentioned that one salad wasn’t enough for my voracious appetite, I was graciously given a second salad.
No exaggeration, but the afternoon “snack break” curated by Whole Foods was the world’s best snack break. Every dish was beautifully styled and tasted like heaven. My favorites were the (1) seeded black rice crackers (from vegetarian chef Amy Chaplin) topped with a tamarind date sauce and pickled vegetables and (2) strawberry rosewater smoothie/chia pudding made with Anita’s coconut yogurt. Let’s just say, I ate multiple servings of each and was still dreaming about them hours later.
I was so thrilled to be part of this event, and I definitely recommend attending the jubilee next year! Thank you, Whole Foods and Cherry Bombe Magazine, for inviting me!