Though women have been making their way to the top of the food world for decades, conferences and events rarely spotlight their work. So, women created events for women: One of the first, Parabere Forum, has gathered an international congress of women since 2014. Cherry Bombe’s Jubilee is another annual celebration with a rockstar line-up. And tickets are now on sale for one of the newest: Fab, which hosts its second annual event this summer, June 10 to 12, 2018, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Fab bridges the gap between talk and action; it’s as much an educational forum and intensive skill share course as networking convention. Looking back on last year’s event, organizer Randi Weinstein says she was “surprised by the reaction of women being surrounded by others just like themselves, and being in a real safe zone. The openness and attentiveness... Real relationships developed. Mentorships came out of it.”
Speakers and panelists this year include: former editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Dana Cowin, chef Elise Kornack, chef/restaurateur Barbara Lynch, editor Kat Kinsman, restaurateur Martha Hoover, influential publicist Sarah Rosenberg, and restaurateur Shelley Lindgren.
Weinstein, a former director of events for Charleston Wine + Food with experience in continuing education, started Fab primarily as an intensive crash course for the hospitality industry. As it’s approaching year two, communications lead Hope Troup says they’re looking forward to energizing a new group of attendees. “You never really know what to expect from the first year of an event,” Troup says. “Randi and I both had high expectations, but we were blown away by the synergy between the speakers and audience. Everyone is at a different point in their career, but they’re able to share their stories in a way that’s still cohesive.”
The conference is organized into two main tracks: 101, an intro course, will tackle topics like culture and leadership, how to use technology and data to run a business more successfully and smoothly, and how to deal with failure. The 202 track will have talks and discussions on sustainability, social justice, crisis management, and expansion.
“It’s not necessarily a progression that an attendee does 101 year one and then 202 the second time around,” Weinstein says. “There are all new panels and speakers, so everyone will get something new out of both tracks. And there’s a split track where you can take some of 101 and then some of 202 if you want legal advice or guidance on how to diversify your business.”
There’s a new session this year, too, called Pitch It, giving budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their business plan during a one-on-one session. A separate application for Pitch It is live now.
“Some of the comments we got [about last year] were: How can I get more immediate feedback from my peers or from leaders in the industry?” Weinstein says. “So that’s what year two is all about. Real world advice and real time feedback.” There’s never been a more real need for both.