Doyenne: Female Force in Food

Four years ago, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States. It’s only fitting that today, on the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, I share a project that uplifts and celebrates women in their profession. This concept was spawned in retaliation to the anger and fear stoked by #45. Yet it also turned out to be one of the most profound experiences I’ve had the honour of collaborating on in my career.

On the morning of November 9, 2016, I woke with a feeling of numbing sadness as fear and uncertainty weighed heavily on my mind. As the weeks progressed, my shock would eventually lift. It was replaced with an urging to do something, to use my skills in some way. As the voices of politicians—these men in suits with no fathom of how dependant women are on healthcare—filled my ears with obsessive talk of defunding Planned Parenthood, my sadness turned into anger and the need to do something screamed from inside me. Yes, because I am a women and the mother to two young daughters. Yes, because I had used Planned Parenthood when I was a student with no health insurance. But also because the idea that this vital resource could be taken away from so many women—some of whom desperately rely on it—infuriated me. I knew I had to turn this energy and passion into action, and I knew the message must be empowering for women. So I reached out to those who had a platform and with whom I had worked closely with in the past: my friends at Life & Thyme

Doyenne: Female Force in Food is our visual tribute to 14 highly accomplished women from Los Angeles’ culinary world. The vision behind these portraits was to show these individuals as strong and confident, without losing sight of the fact that they are women. Women, who are beautifully layered creatures that embody a spectrum of attributes: intelligence, humor, compassion, sexiness—just to name a few. To be resilient and determined doesn’t mean a woman has to forsake her femininity. It was important to find the balance between strong and graceful in order to portray our female culinary leaders accurately.

I am truly humbled to see so many from the city of Los Angeles back this photography exhibit, making Doyenne a sold-out event. To be surrounded by so much love and support is a gift, and it will continue to drive me to collaborate on more projects such as Doyenne. I hope these portraits inspire young ladies to become the doyennes of their own disciplines. And I also hope this piece of work motivates others to champion for those who are not being heard, and to continue fighting against those who wish to silence us.

From top left: Nancy Silverton, Nyesha Arrington, Susan Feniger, Suzanne Goin, Della Gossett, Brooke Williamson, Amy Fraser, Autumn Accarrino, Annie Miller, Isa Fabro, Uli Nasibova, Eden Marie Abramowicz, Genevieve Gergis, Ellen Bennett.

Originally published on Life & Thyme (March 14, 2017).

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