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Las Vegas women take on gender gap in restaurant industry

The gender gap in the restaurant community is undeniable. So a group of some of the top women in the local food and beverage industry are getting together to do something about it. Elizabeth Blau of Blau + Associates and talent management consultant Mary Choi Kelly have created the Women’s Hospitality Initiative (WHI), dedicated to achieving gender equality in the restaurant industry.

According to WHI, while more than 50% of graduating culinary students are women, women represent fewer than 7% of executive chefs or restaurant owners.

“Rather than just talking about the problem, we’re taking action,” says Blau, whose local restaurants include Honey Salt, Andiron Steak & Sea and Buddy V’s Ristorante. “WHI will meet the clear need to educate and train women, from those in high school and college to those already in the business, to thrive in the restaurant industry.”

WHI will formally launch on Feb. 18, with a UNLV screening of “A Fine Line,” a documentary by director Joanna James, which explores the gender gap in the culinary industry and will feature chefs and restaurateurs Dominique Crenn, Lidia Bastianich, April Bloomfield, Barbara Lynch and Cat Cora. That will be followed by a panel discussion with prominent restaurateurs, chefs and business leaders.

The evening will conclude with a culinary celebration led by Jolene Mannina, which will feature bites and cocktails by some of the local restaurant community’s most prominent women, including Lorena Garcia of Chica, Gina Marinelli from La Strega, Jennifer Murphy of Caesars Palace, and Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken from Border Grill. Tickets are available now at SecretBurger.com.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter and Instagram.

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