Women x Food & Beverage: Key Takeaways from the 2018 Cherry Bombe Jubilee in New York City
Posted by: Malisa Meresman in: Food/Beverage -
The Cherry Bombe Jubilee is a day-long conference dedicated to conversation, connections, and, of course, great food and drink. It brings together a wide range of speakers, from industry icons to up-and-comers, and some of the best chefs, bakers, winemakers, indie food producers and more that New York has to offer. Founded by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, Cherry Bombe celebrates women and food through a bi-annual magazine, a weekly Radio Cherry Bombe podcast, and Jubilee conference events. Diamond and Wu launched the Jubilee conference series because they felt women were being left out of the food conferences taking place around the world. They wanted a day where women could come together, network, make friends, build their community and discuss the important matters of the day.
This year’s conference in NYC delivered on Jubilee’s reputation of addressing timely topics pertaining to women in the food industry, and gathered an inspiring lineup of speakers, ranging from industry icons such as Ruth Reichl, Nigella Lawson, Kim Severson and Ruth Rogers, to some of today’s up-and-coming innovators including Sabrina Chen & Alana McMillan of JaynesBeard; chef Preeti Mistry; author and entrepreneur Chitra Agrawal; and Adrienne Cheatham, best known as runner-up on the latest season of Top Chef. Some of the top trends we took away from this year’s Jubilee include:
- The #MeToo Movement’s MAJOR Impact on the F&B Industry – Perhaps the most heated panel discussion of the event was the Bright Lights, Broad Nation Moderated by Kim Severson of The New York Times, the panel gathered Jen Agg, Mashama Bailey, Adrienne Cheatham, Stephanie Danler and Angie Mar to discuss the challenges women face today in the industry. This discussion quickly honed in on the #MeToo movement and the ongoing issues that female chefs and food professionals are navigating. There were conflicting opinions raised by panel participants and audience members, indicating just how complex of an issue this is.
- The F&B Industry is Catering to Women Now more then Ever– The female demographic cannot be ignored from any angle – it impacts everything from the workforce to defining consumer buying trends – and we’re seeing the way this is changing the market and industry landscape significantly. One of the lead sponsors of Jubilee this year was Johnnie Walker Black’s Jane Walker Edition, a special label initiative by the whiskey brand geared towards a female audience. Other beverage brands catering to women were also front-and-center at Jubilee, including Monkey 47 Gin which served cocktails adorned with fresh flower garnishes, and Ramona Sparkling Canned Wine, a modernized wine cooler.
- The Buying Power of Female Consumers–The discussions at Jubilee often pointed back to the significant buying power that women today have. During the Bright Lights, Broad Nation panel discussion, several of the panelists reiterated how important it is for women to recognize their buying power and consider it. The amount we all spend on F&B – from dining to food shopping and beyond – is more significant than almost any other retail industry we invest in daily. When we dine out at a restaurant, we are choosing to support the chefs and owners behind that establishment. When buying food goods, we are choosing to support specific retailers, purveyors, and businesses. In today’s environment, it’s important for women to make these decisions consciously and recognize the power their purchasing decisions have on the industry.
- Entrepreneurship & Innovation – There’s a lot to learn from both the successes and failures of today’s entrepreneurs and innovators. A few of many that were explored at Jubilee include:
- There’s room for improvement in everything we do – don’t be afraid to rethink the things we see as “standard”: When Camilla Marcus set out to open a new restaurant concept in New York, her vision went against the norm and was greeted with pessimism by her peers. Her restaurant, west~bourne, is a mission-driven all-day café serving a menu described as “accidentally vegetarian, decidedly wholesome” (side note: she’s not a vegetarian). Unlike most (or all…that we know of) restaurants today, at west~bourne all employees rotate shifts through all areas of service – from front-of-the-house to back-of-the-house and everything in between. This requires a bigger investment in staff training and has resulted in a more engaged, committed employee base – where all team members work better together with a better understanding of what jobs their peers are handling. And yes, west~bourne has proved itself a great success.
- Modernizing your heritage is thoroughly American: On The Future is Female…and So Right Now panel, Chitra Agrawal discussed how she launched Brooklyn Delhi, her award-winning Indian condiments line. Agrawal explained that as an American born to Indian parents, she is an American of Indian heritage. She grew up eating both classic American food and traditional Indian food that her family prepared. She craved the flavors of Indian condiments and recognized a hole in the American market for these options. When she set out to found Brooklyn Delhi, she focused on how Indian flavors can be applied to American cuisine. She markets Brooklyn Delhi successfully by illustrating how her products compliment the popular foods Americans love, and has found success by modernizing her heritage.
- Failing to Succeed- The current media environment leaves little room for privacy. The very entities that can build your profile and make you a star – such as reality TV and social media – can also become the fast-lane to highlighting your failures. In her Failing Up presentation, chef Preeti Mistry spoke candidly about how an early failure broadcasted nationally on Top Chef opened her up to criticism many said she would be unable to rebound from. She, like so many others at Jubilee, prove that failure is not only inevitable, but essential to growth and success.