Dames Wine School Launches Feb. 12

unnamed-13Welcome to the Dames Wine School and the first in series of five classes! Do you like wine, but don’t know your chard from your chenin? Do terms like tannin, body and balance confuse you? Do you find yourself overwhelmed in a wine store, gazing at thousands of labels, not knowing where to begin?

Industry professionals Dame Gina Voci and Dame Rebekah Graham will reveal all, through a tasting of eight wines, focusing on four key components  — tannin, acid, alcohol and sugar.

This is about learning about wine through tasting. You’ll learn how to identify aromas and flavors, understand what balance means, and how to describe wine. You’ll figure out your own palate as we learn about popular wine styles and grape varietals.  We’ll even touch on deciphering a wine list and how to talk to a sommelier.

When: Wed., Feb. 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at
Where: Birch Road Cellar, 1113 W. Armitage Ave. Chicago (metered street parking available)
Member tickets: $35; non-member tickets: $45 Get tickets here 
Limited to 12 attendees. All are welcome including significant others, friends, & prospective Dames. Sign up early to reserve your seat.
(Note: This is not a dinner or food/wine pairing; a light offering of cheese and crackers will be provided)

From Spark to Stores: Bringing a Singular Idea to Market

unnamed-21Have you ever had a tightly focused niche idea that just might be worth pursuing?  Nearly everyone has had that one idea that feels like it fills a hole in the marketplace. But how do you take it from idea to reality? That entrepreneurial spirit runs in the Lock family.

Dame Stephanie Lock is the founder of Ready to Roll Dough, a super-premium pastry crust business. Her sweet and savory organic all-butter crusts are sold at Whole Foods Markets across Chicago.

Stephanie’s drive was instilled in her by her mom, Joyce Lock, who is the creator of the popular “Foodie Fight” trivia game. We will hear their stories in this conversation about what it means to have an idea for a single, focused product and what it takes to get that idea into a marketable reality.

After the discussion, we’ll snack on some sweet and savory pies and play a few friendly rounds of Foodie Fight!  Just in time for the holidays, every ticket includes one disk of Ready to Roll Dough and your own Foodie Fight game!
When:  Sunday, November 17, 3-5:30 p.m.
Where:  The home of Dame Stacey Ballis, 2819 W Logan Blvd,  Chicago
Limited to 16 attendees
Tickets: $40 for Dames; $50 for non-members. This is an awesome event for guests! Get your tickets here.

Dames Chicago Award Scholarship to 14 Deserving Women



Sept. 20, 2019: The Chicago chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier was thrilled to present scholarships to 14 amazing women who are pursuing careers in food and beverage, the culinary arts, and/or hospitality industries. The recipients are:

Camila Ambriz, Joliet Junior College

Nedrianna Brunt, Washburne Culinary and Hospitality

Kristin Dula, French Pastry School

Maisie Elias, French Pastry School

Gianina Gomez Cabrera, Kendall College

Keeley Collins, French Pastry School

Khatera Jackson, Kendall College / National Louis

Renee Lewis, Joliet Junior College

Khadija Malik, Kendall College

Maria Ramirez-Gregg, College of DuPage

Emma Daryl Richards, French Pastry School

Destini Williams, Robert Morris University

Naamee Yisrael, Washburne Culinary and Hospitality

Alsonye Ugbebor, Washburne Culinary and Hospitality

Congratulations to these outstanding women. We can’t wait to see their careers evolve! If you are interested in more information about the Les Dames Scholarship program, please click here. Applications for 2020 scholarships are due March 10, 2020.


Meet Our New Members!

The Chicago chapter welcomed nine new Dames on Monday, June 10, where they were inducted at the Annual Meeting and Dinner at The Glunz Tavern.

Front Row, L to R: Chandre Geis, Katie Ayoub, Laura Frankel. Back Row, L to R: Emily Paster, Stephanie Locke, Rebekah Graham, Shannon Sherwood, Jessica Ellington. Not pictured: Lisa Bonjour.

Katie Ayoub Katie has been in foodservice publishing industry for almost 20 years. She is President of  Katie Ayoub & Associates, specializing as a media consultant for foodservice manufacturers on engaging content strategy. Katie is a public speaker, moderating roundtables and panels, as well as leading presentations on flavor trends. She works as a volunteer with Youth360 which is an organization that serves LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. A graduate of Northwestern University, she lives in Chicagoland with her husband and two kids. Primary Sponsor: Sharon Olson;                  Secondary Sponsor: Pat Cobe

Lisa Bonjour  Lisa currently is the pastry chef at Eataly Chicago. As a former restaurant chef, she loves the change in pace and hours, but sometimes misses the rush of service. Outside of work, she spends her time eating and drinking with her friends around the city and around the world (when possible). While she doesn’t have a favorite food, she is still dreaming about all the smoked sardines she ate in Spain. Primary Sponsor: Stacy Ballis; Secondary Sponsor: Shannon Kinsella

Jessica Ellington Jessica Ellington is owner and executive pastry chef of Sweet Bee, which provides pastry consulting services to food service establishments, food brands and manufacturers. Jessica works with companies to create new recipes, improve production processes and lower operating costs. She moved to Chicago for school nearly 20 years ago from a rural town and now couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Her first love was a chocolate chip cookie and she has been using the same recipe for over 30 years. Her favorite food, however, is dip. Any kind, really, but she particularly lacks self-control when it comes to Ruffles potato chips and French onion dip. Primary Sponsor: Anne Kauffmann. Secondary Sponsor: Laura Herman

 Laura Frankel Laura is a prominent player in Kosher cuisine. As a restaurant owner, chef, teacher, caterer, cookbook author and public speaker, Laura has been called the “Alice Waters of Kosher cuisine,” and takes that extraordinary compliment to heart.  Her groundbreaking work in the world of Kosher cooking in Chicago has brought a fresh, modern and over-the-top deliciousness to traditional fare. Laura lives in Skokie with her husband. Primary Sponsor: Karen Rose; Secondary Sponsor: Julie Ratowitz

Chandre Geis Chandre is a Central Texas native who has more than 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. During her 17 years in Austin, TX, she held successful upper management positions in acclaimed restaurants and institutions. In 2014, she moved to San Francisco to join Brett Cooper and the Aster team, earning a 1-Star Michelin rating within the first six months of service. In 2016, she left restaurant operations to lend her expertise to the table management software company Reserve, where she led account management for ~150 restaurant partners on the West Coast. She was tapped to move to Chicago in May 2018 to lead account management for Reserve’s strongest market and the impending merger with Resy. Chandre lives in Chicago. Primary Sponsor: Carla Williams; Secondary Sponsor: Amelia Levin

Rebekah Graham Rebekah has extensive background  in the beverage industry in Chicago. Most recently, she was owner and operator of the acclaimed restaurant, Twain.  Prior to that, she worked for close to a decade with One Off Hospitality Group. She has completed the Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier Exam, World Brewing Academy Concise course and passed the Certified Beer Server Exam. Primary Sponsor: Veronica Hastings; Secondary Sponsor: Suzanne Florek

Stephanie Lock Stephanie is the Founder and Creator of Ready-to-Roll Dough. She focuses on top-quality ingredients to create her dough, with European–style butter taking center stage. She puts her masterful skill and Midwestern senses into each handcrafted disk to ensure great pies happen. She also owns and operates Rustic Tart.   Stephanie lives in Chicago. Primary Sponsor: Meme Hopmeyer; Secondary Sponsor: Rebecca Wheeler

Emily Paster Emily Paster is the author of two cookbooks, 2016’s Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving and The Joys of Jewish Preserving published in 2017. She is the writer and photographer behind the website West of the Loop, which has been called “a family food blog to savor.” As the founder of the Chicago Food Swap, a community event where handmade foods are bartered and exchanged, Emily is a leader in the national food swap movement. Primary Sponsor: Julie Chernoff;  Secondary Sponsor: Chandra Ram

Shannon Sherwood Shannon came to Chicago in 2001, after selling the downstate punk rock club she bought at age 24. Now her interests have shifted a bit from punk rock toward Americana, but she always has a soundtrack in her head.  Shannon loves music, fiction, food and wine and as such, she collects cookware, books, wine, and wine.
Shannon works as a senior sales consultant for Catering by Michaels, specializing in corporate and academic events, and she loves what she does. She never bakes, but cooks like mad. And almost always with wine. Primary Sponsor: Julie Ratowitz  Secondary Sponsor: Queenie Burns

Dames Test Their Knowledge on Chicago Food Trivia

Dames met at Eli’s Cheesecake on Monday evening, April 1 to test their knowledge on Chicago food trivia. Dame Chandra Ram and Dame Carol Mighton Haddix, one of the co-editors of The Chicago Food Encyclopedia, led a fascinating presentation featuring many contributors to the book.

Along the way, answers were revealed to a truly challenging quiz developed by Carol.  All of the answers are featured in the book. (Do you know when smelting season starts in Chicago?) Download the quiz here –  and be warned – the answers are on the last page, so don’t peek ahead! Leave a comment and let us know how you fared.

Huge thanks to Eli’s Cheesecake for hosting us and sharing a truly tempting buffet of their delicious cheesecakes, cakes, cookies, brownies and other goodies! It was “dessert for dinner” for many Dames and no one was complaining about that!