Sugar and Spice Summit '18
By Grace Gay
As female foodie entrepreneurs gathered to inspire younger women at the second annual Sugar and Spice Summit, the growing #MeToo movement seemed to permeate the air of the open space loft in downtown Chicago. Kerry Diamond, the keynote speaker and founder of Cherry Bombe magazine, even mentioned how the growing awareness of sexual harassment has been forcing the restaurant industry to reflect on its role in all of it.
The Sugar and Spice summit, organized by Medill Senior Lauren Goldstein, aims to grow the feminist food community in Chicago. You can check out Scene+Heard’s interview with her here. In launching the Sugar and Spice summit last year, she hoped to create a feminist foodie space in the Chicagoland area. This year, the event focused on encouraging the younger generation in attendance to explore their options in the food world, but also in entrepreneurship in general and in the rest of their lives. Each speaker offered their stories and bits of advice, discussing the trials they had faced as women in establishing themselves in a notoriously male-dominated industry.
The day opened with Kerry Diamond, who laid out her path and what she’s learned. After founding her own restaurant, she was inspired by the severe underrepresentation of women to found Cherry Bombe magazine. In describing Cherry Bombe, she offered a prime example of how women in the food industry are actually working to fight sexism. Cherry Bombe works mainly with female photographers, and in addition, a recent campaign produced posters for restaurants to display resources waitresses and other women within the food industry can turn to when facing sexual harassment.
Diamond and many of the other speakers also encouraged younger women to become financially literate and focus on networking, no matter in which industry they planned to work. Later in the day, in a panel moderated by Medill junior Ariel Coonin, female business owners encouraged younger women to get mentors and focused on the strategies for establishing a successful business. They also discussed the power of social media, branding, and developing the confidence to follow dreams.
Throughout the day, the panels also addressed problems with racial diversity in the food world. Chrishon Lampley, founder and CEO of Love Cork Screw, a wine distributor, described herself as a “unicorn within the industry” since she is one of 60 black women in the alcohol sales arena. The panel “Politics of the Kitchen” focused on how different chefs in Chicago are using their food as a form of activism against sexism, racism, and bigotry overall. A tiny, vivid microcosm of an industry—one dealing with issues from trans rights to technology—came alive for the few hours of the summit.
Goldstein, after using this space to inspire younger women, plans to expand the scope of the organization into New York (where she plans to move in the fall). Even as Goldstein’s influence moves away from the Chicago food world, she will leave behind a network of empowered young women ready to make a difference in the industry and join a broader discussion of how women’s voices can be heard everywhere.