There are over 8.4 million people in New York City, with over 24,000 restaurants, delis, and cafes. That would take you over 22.9 years to eat at every single spot in NYC. So as you would expect there are a lot of chefs in this great city. There are organizations like the New York Hospitality Alliance, Restaurant Association, and various others but there is only one that has an organization for female chefs and female chefs only.
The New York Women’s Culinary Alliance is a non-profit organization for professional women in the food and wine industry. Total Food Service sat down with NYWCA president Brona Cosgrave to learn more about the alliance and all the amazing things they do.
In 1982, Sara Moulton moved from Boston to NYC, gathered a group of ladies and shared her idea after leaving a similar group in Boston. After immediately grabbing energetic attention, people were enthusiastic so they formed the alliance after meeting with Julia Child and Maria Reuges’ encouragement. Now in 2017 the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance has on average 200-230 members.
The alliance has spent the last 30 or so years gathering members and helping members to further their career. The requirements to be involved with NYWCA are to obviously be located within the metro Tri-State area and that you work full-time or at least 30 hours a week in the industry. “One of the other requirements for membership is to be an active participant in the alliance. When I got started with the alliance I was an active member on the committee, organizing programs, special events, social media and helping out with memberships,” Brona stated.
The organization rates a member’s level of participation with something called “credit.” NYWCA members are required to have at least four credits every membership year. The whole premise of the organization is just about ladies helping ladies. “It’s a wonderful group of people who all just want to help each other,” said Brona. Members can give back and gain credits in a wide range of ways from helping to host or organize events to writing member showcases, like Joyce Appelman, a TFS columnist. Joyce has written a good chunk of showcases talking about members like Shin Kim, Jackie Topol, Catherin Oddendino and many more.
Aside from creating a wonderful network, NYWCA hosts these wonderful and creative events like their potluck dinners, dine around, wellness committees, educational programs, and even book clubs! The biggest event the alliance hosts is their bi-annual potluck dinners. It’s pretty much exactly what you would think; “We host two potlucks every year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Everyone who attends is asked to bring a dish to serve for 8-10 people. We generally put a theme on the dinner, so for example our upcoming spring potluck will be a taste of the tropics,” Brona concluded.
The numbers for NYWCA have remained relatively constant over the years. “We don’t want to be a huge organization because then we wouldn’t necessarily be able to maintain our current structure and level or personal involvement,” Brona added. The alliance understands that as big of a city as this is, smaller is sometimes better.
The other aspect of the alliance that we love is their involvement with the local communities. The alliance is involved with various charitable organizations like Spoons Across America, Hot Bread Kitchen, Family Cook Productions, and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger. “We want our members to be able to share their skills and have a real impact on the community,” Brona concluded. NYWCA has done cooking with kids programs, worked with New York Cares and hosted cooking programs for children. The alliance strives to help spread the knowledge to whoever wants to hear it.
In a city of millions, these 200 or so women in the culinary industry who have banded together to help network, spread knowledge, do great things and to ultimately help further their careers in the food and wine industry. We are looking forward to seeing the talent that gets involved in the years ahead. The alliance is now accepting new member applications and as a volunteer-run organization, the alliance only accepts applications once a year. So if you think NYWCA is something you want to be a part of, now is the time to act.
To learn more about NYWCA, visit their website.