Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day One: "Hear Me Roar"

Today was an introduction to what will be one of the most exciting trips of my life—I’d assume the five others feel that way too. Here’s the breakdown: six weeks of non-stop travel to wine regions in beloved California, Italy, and France; we will travel to suppliers and partners of Kobrand Corporation.. Recipients of the award are sponsored by the R.C. Kopf foundation and are males or females that plan to pursue a career in the restaurant or beverage industry and are, not to mention, pretty good students! Recipients come from the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell University’s Hotel School, Boston University’s hospitality program, and Johnson and Wales University. But enough with the technicalities!

To start, last night I found myself sharing drinks across from a very unique individual-picture vibrantly colored blue hair with a devil-may-care attitude—thinking, wow, I LOVE this industry! Let’s be honest, you cannot be a part of the restaurant scene and get away with being boring. That doesn’t always mean someone is fun; consider Chef Ramsey at his peak moments: screaming while throwing pots and pans…exciting, but not necessarily fun. I guess what I’m saying is that you can almost always expect an interesting back-story from the people you meet along the way as a young person pursuant of this type of career

So this morning we have a meeting with our sponsors, and we find ourselves sitting in a room discussing the fact that the Award has hit its 15th year anniversary. But the larger milestone I see is that this is the first year in the history of the scholarship that all recipients are female! In a profession overwhelmed by the supply of ambitious men, here we are representing a field in which more and more women find themselves as head honchos, VPs of marketing, General Managers…the boss man if you will! I’m not a feminist, but pride definitely defines the feeling we all felt with the certainty of tomorrow’s flight to California.

The foundation implores us to be ambassadors for the future of the industry, and I can’t help but think that it is already impossible not to be. The competition to receive the award, let alone the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to get there, shows that this group has earned their right to forge ahead professionally and personally as the trip unfolds and thereafter.

Sometimes I see this scene in my head where I am lowering myself into one of those circus canons, closing my eyes, and lighting the match. That’s what it feels like today—like we’ve all hit a huge milestone--personally and for women in the industry--almost before we've even started, and it is full speed ahead.

So, as the trip moves forward, I’ll try to capture the best moments, stories, brief experiences, and of course, all of the wonderful food and wine!
Ai Fiori (NYC, Setai Hotel 5th  Avenue btw 36th and 37th): Awesome presentations and flavor executions. Great place for romantic dinners but not averse to groups!
Wine:“Le Reve” Blanc de Blancs, Domaine Carneros, 2005: Made in Method Champenoise, this is a benchmark sparkler not only for the winery but for the west coast in general.

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