Women Chefs Up Team For Fundraiser Event

This roasted beet and pear tartare was created by Rebekah Kohl of Trellis Cafe as an appetizer during the Women and Whiskey event. Photo: From The Barrel—Des Moines Whiskey Festival

Writer: Karla Walsh

Over the past decade, it was not uncommon for chef awards to include a separate category for “best female chef.” And to this day, if we look at who leads kitchens around the metro area, those who identify as males far outweigh those who identify as females.

So I was delighted to see the Women and Whiskey event appear on Friday, Nov. 19, in advance of the Des Moines Whiskey Festival—and immediately bought tickets once I saw the lineup of chefs tapped to each take a course on the four-part menu.

  • Appetizer: Rebekah Kohl of Trellis Cafe (roasted beet and pear tartare)
  • Salad: Brandy Leuders of The Grateful Chef (watermelon radish, Persian cucumber and winter spinach salad with lemon vinaigrette)
  • Entree: Megan Snyder of Proof (sous vide Denver steak)
  • Dessert: Lesley Rish of NOSH Cafe and Eatery (chai froyo affogato)

Each course was paired with a splash of locally made whiskey, and the leader was another powerhouse: Gwen Page, operating owner at Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ + Brew in Luther.

“Our goal with Women and Whiskey was to partner with a local charity that benefits women,” Page says.

Page tapped the four female chefs, helped coordinate many of the logistics (including a female emcee, Jackie Schmillen) and even sped around delivering plates to the two floors of tables at the 
River Center during the sold-out event. With nearly 300 guests in attendance, the event raised about $7,000 for the Young Women’s Resource Center, according to Erin Moran, senior director of communications and external affairs for the YWRC.

“It’s important for youth to have examples of successful women and non-binary folks in a variety of fields to help them determine their own future goals,” Moran says. “Many of our participants show interest in pursuing a career that involves creating—whether that is through design, videos or culinary arts.”

Plus, I can verify that all in attendance were treated to a terrific meal. To learn more about the YWRC’s future events, visit ywrc.orgThe gala on April 9, 2022 is the next chance to wine and dine for the cause.

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