The LEE Initiative has a mission to bring more equality and diversity in the restaurant industry through work programs and continuing education. 
There is a pressing need for more women in higher positions


One of the areas in which we have identified a lack of equality is in the kitchens of independent restaurants where there is a pressing need for more women in higher positions. We believe this is a pressing issue that demands our conviction and energy. Our goal is to offer something positive and empowering to women who work in professional kitchens.

One of the ways in which The LEE Initiative hopes to tackle this problem is by giving opportunities for continuing education to female chefs and by shining a spotlight on talented but little known chefs in the industry. In 2018, The LEE Initiative will award 5 female chefs in Kentucky an opportunity for growth and learning. We will look for talented female chefs throughout the state of Kentucky who are working full time in restaurants but who are not owners or head chefs.

The award will include the following:

  • 6 – 7 days with a notable restaurant group in America, training and learning all aspects of the restaurant business from kitchen to management and accounting.

  • Travel and hotel expenses will be paid along with a daily stipend for food

  • One week of pay at the same rate that she would earn at her place of employment

  • A written agreement from her place of employment that she will not lose her position after her weeklong training.

  • Once all the five award winners complete their externships, the five chefs will be given the chance to cook at The James Beard Foundation with Chef Edward Lee to showcase what they learned and an opportunity to cook their own food in front of press and chefs in NYC.

  • For 2018 only: In addition to the above scholarships, this year, The Southern Foodways Alliance will be holding their Summer Symposium in Lexington, KY (June 21 – 23). Each of the 5 chefs will be granted an additional Mentorship Scholarship as defined by the SFA.

  • This includes:
    – Event tickets, travel and lodging to the SFA Summer Symposium in Lexington, KY
    – Event tickets, travel and lodging to the SFA Winter Symposium in Birmingham, AL
    – Expenses for food, supplies and books
    – Mentorship meetings and consultations with Chef Edward Lee


  • Candidate applications will be due by February 10, 2018

  • Awards will be announced March 1, 2018

  • Internships will take place between March and July of 2018

  • All 5 chefs will meet with Chef Edward Lee for a mentorship day in May 2018 for SFA

  • All 5 chefs will attend SFA Summer Symposium in Lexington KY in June 2018

  • All 5 chefs will train at 610 Magnolia for two days during the summer to train for their Beard Foundation Dinner

  • The Dinner at the James Beard House will take place in September of 2018



  • This program is only available to women who do not own their own restaurant, and have been residing in Kentucky for at least 1 year.

  • Applicants must be currently working in the restaurant industry in Kentucky and have a minimum of 2 years experience overall.

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old, with legal status to work

  • Complete the application form and the short-answer questions.

  • Submit all transcripts from education or programs obtained during the past five years.

  • Attach two professional letters of reference. Additional letters are encouraged and welcomed.

  • You must be available to interview with our board either in person or via Skype.



Email: Lindsey@610Magnolia.com

Mail: Attn: Lindsey Ofcacek
610 W. Magnolia Avenue, Louisville, KY, 40208

In Person: To submit an application in person, please call 502.636.0783 to arrange a meeting.