Happy Women’s History Month! From helping mom with dinner to savoring a meal prepared by the head chef of a five-star restaurant, women have been shaping how we enjoy food throughout history.

This month we’re celebrating women’s contributions to the restaurant industry with MAPP, a 501C3 non-profit organization. MAPP is taking the initiative in empowering women to lead through mentorship and advocacy. One way they’re furthering this mission is by hosting their inaugural MAPP Restaurant Reset Conference, a first-of-its-kind restaurant conference for women in the culinary arts and hospitality industry.

But before the conference starts, we’re kicking off our celebration this month with award-winning filmmaker and Founder and President of MAPP Joanna James.

Starting the Conversation

Before starting MAPP in 2019, Joanna directed, produced, and edited A Fine Line. This documentary sparked national conversations about gender bias in the restaurant and food industry by exploring why less than 7% of head chefs and restaurant owners are women. Those conversations led Joanna to start MAPP, a 501C3 non-profit organization that empowers women to lead through Mentorship, Advocacy, Pandemic relief, and the Power of women.

But what inspired Joanna to start this conversation?

Before the Conversation

Growing up, Joanna watched her single mom balance work and family while overcoming numerous challenges as a female chef.

When Joanna first started working on A Fine Line, she planned to only feature her mom, Head Chef and Owner of Val’s Restaurant Valerie James. But through her research, Joanna realized that other female chefs had similar stories of facing barriers to breaking into the industry because of their gender.

“I suddenly realized that what my mother had faced was part of a larger discussion,” says James to NPR. “I wanted my mom’s story to be the compelling factor that moved everything forward, but to also weave in the stories of other female chefs.”

The restaurant industry has a history of being unwelcoming toward women. From sexual harassment to nonexistent family leave, women in F&B often have to struggle more than their male coworkers to advance in their fields.

Joanna used A Fine Line to show how some of the world’s most renowned women chefs have defied the odds they face and how the industry is in need of change. To help bring about that change and continue the conversation she started, Joanna created MAPP.

Continuing the Conversation

Since its founding, MAPP has greatly impacted the F&B industry by honoring women and people of color through recognition and opportunities with media and F&B titans including Oprah Magazine, PBS, The James Beard Foundation, Food & Wine, and Harvard.

Next month MAPP will be hosting the first MAPP Restaurant Reset Conference in Florida.

MAPP is taking steps to ensure women, people of color, and all marginalized communities are part of the conversation as we begin to rebuild the F&B industry in the aftermath of the pandemic. The MAPP Restaurant Reset Conference is the only conference for and about women in F&B.

Interested in joining us at the MAPP Restaurant Reset Conference in April? Click here for more info and to purchase tickets!