Wherever we identify a need for more diversity and more equality in the restaurant industry, we will find creative and forward-thinking solutions.


A Leadership Development Experience for Women in Culinary
The Women Chefs Program is currently paused for Covid 19 and will resume as the culinary industry gets back on its feet. 

We believe there is a pressing need for more women to be in higher ranking positions in the restaurant industry. Only then, will a more balanced space exist for creativity, equality, ability and positivity. 

One of the ways the LEE Initiative hopes to address this void in leadership is through our eight-month program called the Women Chefs Program. By shining a spotlight on unsung women in the culinary industry, we intend to elevate their presence as well as their capability. 

As we enter our third year of the program, the LEE Initiative will once again award five chefs from Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and Cincinnati the opportunity to learn from successful culinary leaders, hands on experience and leadership skill building opportunities.

The Women Chefs program will include the following:

  • Seven-day externship – A notable and successful chef female-led restaurant group in the United States will be assigned to each chef. The externship will include training in all aspects of the restaurant business from back of house to accounting. One week of pay at the same rate as offered by the candidate’s current employer will be provided by The LEE Initiative. Pre-approved travel and hotel expenses along with a daily stipend for food will also be provided. The candidate’s employer will be asked to sign a written agreement guaranteeing the same position of employment after the weeklong training.

  • FAB scholarship – FAB is 48 hours of educational and inspirational workshops created by women, for women in the hospitality industry. This is an invaluable opportunity to build community with some of the most successful women in the industry and expand your knowledge on the financial side of the business. Travel and lodging to Charleston, SC is included.

  • Product development with Makers Mark – An exciting educational experience with the Private Select program where chefs will taste and blend “a recipe” for a signature bourbon. Travel to Loretto, Kentucky to the world-famous Maker’s Mark Bourbon facility included.

  • Butchery class – Mentees will spend the day with Chicago Butchers Rob Levitt, Publican Quality Meats and McCollough Kelly-Willis, founder of Chicago Meat Collective. They will participate in a whole animal butchery workshop and have the opportunity to break down their own lambs provided by Kentucky’s own Freedom Run Farm. This workshop will take place at Red Hog Restaurant & Butcher Shop. 

  • Media training with Wagstaff Marketing and other media professionals – The chefs will participate in a day long training with Wagstaff Marketing, a national agency dedicated to the travel and hospitality industries along with other guest speakers. Training will include interview process tips, social media etiquette, and other pertinent public relations best practices. Wagstaff will also offer continuous support to chefs throughout the program lifecycle.

  • James Beard House with Chef Edward Lee – The James Beard House in New York City, is nothing short of legendary in the culinary world. Chefs will put into practice what they’ve learned during their training and showcase their own recipes in front of the elite culinary community of New York.

  • Pay it forward – Chefs will be asked to participate in various LEE Initiative fundraisers for the next class of mentees. This is another opportunity to polish skills and show case each chef in front of the Kentucky area restaurant community, media and potential donors.

2020 Women Chefs Program Timeline:

  • February 1 – Applications due

  • March 2 – New class of mentees announced live in Louisville, KY

  • March – Chefs attend a Butchery class Louisville, KY

  • Between March and July – Externships take place around the US

  • June – Chefs attend the FAB Workshop in Charleston, SC 

  • July – Chefs meet with Chef Edward Lee for a mentorship day, Louisville, KY

  • July – Chefs train at 610 Magnolia for two days to prepare for their James Beard Dinner, Louisville, KY

  • August – LEE Initiative fundraising dinner, Louisville KY

  • September – Dinner at the James Beard House, New York City

  • On-going – Participate in various fundraiser activities in the Kentucky area


The Women Chefs program is only available to women who do not own their own restaurant.

Applicants must:

  • Be currently working in the restaurant industry and have a minimum of two years experience.

  • Reside in Kentucky, Southern Indiana, or Cincinnati for at least one year.

  • Be at least 18 years old with legal status to work.

  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent.

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

  • Submit all transcripts from education or experience obtained over the past five years.

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

  • Be available to interview 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.