Celebrating talented women in culinary professions

John Wright, Senior VP, Global Head of Food, Sodexo
About the author : John Wright

Senior Vice President, Global Head of Food for Sodexo

Published on : 3/30/21
  • Professional kitchens around the world are still largely male dominated. According to the U.S. Census Bureau* less than a quarter of chefs are female, 24%, and the office of national statistics** in the UK records just 17% of chef positions being held by women.

    However, this is slowly changing, and we are leading the way. Throughout our culinary world, women lead with passion. They challenge the status quo. They thrive on innovation. And, most of all, they drive our passion for food, bringing culinary excellence to our guests every day with their skills, creativity and enthusiasm. We’re proud to have the best culinary talent in the industry.

    In honor of International Women’s day and Women’s History Month we are celebrating our fantastic female culinary talent as well as some of the significant leadership achievements of women in our food community.

    Many of our culinarians started in the kitchen and have taken on new positions of leadership where they’re demonstrating their proven capacity to effect change, and I’d like to share some of their inspirational stories with you.

    Chef Lisa Feldman is moving mountains these days to infuse our menus with plant-forward options. From her first position at Sodexo as a test kitchen assistant to her current position as director of recipe management, her roles led her to develop the initial strategy for bringing food sustainability into focus across the company. She now serves as one of the founding board members for the non-profit Food for Climate League. Lisa led where there wasn’t yet a path, and now her influence is seen in thousands of menus in every segment we serve in North America.

    Our culinary teams take advantage of our formal and informal mentoring and training opportunities across the globe, and I’ve seen the impact our approach can have on career paths. Kym Ng started with Sodexo 5 years ago as an interim program manager and is now directing strategy as head of projects and initiatives for our Asian Pacific food team. She shares that she’s been fortunate to cross paths with compassionate mentors who provided her with a safety net and encouraged her to not be afraid of failure, both empowering her and cultivating her sense of resilience.

    In the UK, Hannah Hughes is head of our food service development, and led the team who created the menu for Foodiverse, a modern food hall experience featuring authentic, global cuisines. She says she’s privileged to have a great team of passionate individuals around her and that the support she’s received has instilled confidence for success and helped her strive forward.

    Culinary department director Carole Galissant shares that she’s been afforded growth opportunities in her career; from her start as a dietitian, she now leads the entire nutritional policy strategy for Sodexo in France. She’s become a leading voice in advancing new nutritional recommendations throughout the country and has been recognized by the French Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Health, among others, for her advocacy of healthy and sustainable food and good nutrition.

    Claudia Saldana-Rose is an area executive chef in Peru, working with universities throughout her district. Through her global experiences at Sodexo, she’s been able to learn from different cultures and bring that knowledge to her everyday work. She says she’s grown as a person and as a chef and gives credit to the numerous mentors she’s encountered over the years who’ve helped to shape her career and growth.

    These are just a few of the many women behind our love of food. Each one is valued for the passion and enthusiasm they bring, playing a significant role in the diversity of our global culinary community. We’re seeing women in the food community broaden their careers across the culinary spectrum, and we’re honored to recognize their excellence as leaders for a better, more inclusive world.

    I invite you to take the time to read more stories about the talented women who are making a difference at Sodexo. Their stories are inspiring!


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    This article was adapted from an article shared on the personal LinkedIn account of John Wright, Senior Vice President Global head of food at Sodexo.

    * Chefs & head cooks | Data USA
    ** Why are our professional kitchens still male dominated?

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