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Empower Through Flour: Celebrating Today’s Female Chefs and the Female Forces of Tomorrow

If you’re seeing a lot of purple this month, don’t be alarmed; instead, buy that purple cookie or cupcake—it will do a lot more than simply satisfy your sweet-tooth craving.

Throughout the entirety of March, Denver and cities across the nation will celebrate Empower Through Flour—an all-female-powered initiative established by Lincoln-based Pastry Chef Angela Garbacz of Goldenrod Pastries and the all-women-team at Bolster Media in March of 2018. Essentially, Empower Through Flour serves as a “nationwide bake sale (where the term ‘bake’ is used loosely).”

The campaign, with NYC-based Pastry Chef Caroline Schiff of Gage & Tollner serving as co-founder this year, strives to bring together influential women from across the nation, raising funds and spreading the message of each year’s chosen non-profit partner. For 2020, all proceeds from Empower Through Flour will benefit Girl Up, a global leadership development movement founded in 2010 by the United Nations Foundation that engages, trains, and mobilizes girls around the world to take action to achieve global gender equality.

Involvement reaches far and wide, with participating chefs and restaurants creating purple EFT menu items, of which a portion of the sales proceeds will go towards Girl Up (here is the full roster of nationwide participants). In addition to the “bake sale,” special events like influencer giveaways will be ongoing, as well as a collaboration with female artists and illustrators for EFT-branded merchandise, available via Etsy, with 100% of those proceeds also benefiting Girl Up.

We interviewed our local EFT participants, with purple baked goods from Aurora to Boulder, on what this initiative means to them, and why they were inspired to create their particular EFT menu items.

Sarah Beckwith, Chef

OAK at fourteenth (1400 Pearl Street, Boulder)
Menu Item: Orange and Date Sticky Toffee Pudding with Caramelized Rice Krispies, Black Currant Ice Cream

DiningOut: What inspired this particular menu item/why did you choose this to be your GirlUp featured menu item?
Beckwith: I like doing riffs on classic dishes, especially dessert! Sticky toffee pudding is one of my favorites. I tried to take an uber-rich dessert and lighten it up with fresh flavors. Black currant ice cream isn’t a flavor I’ve done before, but it pairs so nicely with the date and orange. It also turned out to be a pretty shade of purple.
As a woman who’s excelled in this industry, what does it mean to you to participate in this program?
I don’t work with many women, so it’s nice to be part of a like-minded group within the industry.
Were there women accessible to/supportive of you in your journey to culinary success?
There are a handful of women I’ve worked with throughout my career that have set great examples for me. I’ve found that they are some of the toughest, hard-working people I’ve ever met.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a young, aspiring female chef?
I’d give the same advice to anyone starting off: if you want to excel in this field, be the person that works the hardest, pushes the pace, and adheres to the highest standards.


Caroline Glover, Chef/Owner

Annette (2501 Dallas Street, #108, Aurora)
Menu Item: House Peanut Brittle and Huckleberry Ice Cream

DiningOut: What inspired this particular menu item/why did you choose this to be your GirlUp featured menu item?
Glover: We love making ice cream at Annette. It’s a really fun and creative outlet for us! Plus, we happened to have a lot of huckleberry jam leftover from the fall, as well as some peanut brittle we had made for a special. At Annette, a lot of our menu items come about from using up any excess products and preventing as much waste as possible. It’s a fun and challenging way to look at food—and I think ultimately creates unique dishes that we wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.
As a woman who’s excelled in this industry, what does it mean to you to participate in this program?
I really love participating in this program because it helps give a voice to such great women-centered organizations. If you have a platform to say something, I think it’s really important to make sure you get on it and shout about the things that matter most to you.
Were there women accessible to/supportive of you in your journey to culinary success?
Absolutely. There are so many women I have looked up to from afar (Alice Waters, Elizabeth David… I could go on and on and on!), but also people who I’ve had the chance to work side by side with. There are so many women I have worked with, or for, that I still reach out to constantly for advice. April Bloomfield has been incredible in answering so many of my business-related questions.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a young, aspiring female chef?
Always trust your gut. I can not say this enough times. I know it’s the most cliche piece of advice that I could give, but it will not fail you! Sometimes you have to sit still enough to hear it…but it’s always there. Don’t let people from the outside make you question it either—because they will. But you know you best.

Linda Hampsten Fox, Executive Chef/Owner

The Bindery (1817 Central Street, Denver)
Menu Item: Flowerdough (Purple Sourdough with Butterfly Pea Tea)

DiningOut: What inspired this particular menu item/why did you choose this to be your GirlUp featured menu item?
Hampsten Fox: We use butterfly pea tea in the bar at The Bindery and were inspired by its fun color. It is both feminine and playful, yet bold and striking. I asked our head bread baker to give it a whirl and this purple sourdough was developed for the Empower Through Flour campaign.
As a woman who’s excelled in this industry, what does it mean to you to participate in this program?
It’s wonderful to participate in a program that empowers young women on so many levels. My entire staff got behind the messaging and excited to showcase our Flowerdough (which is obviously a play of flour, dough, and sourdough!).
Were there women accessible to/supportive of you in your journey to culinary success?
My mother was my greatest inspiration and support. She empowered my sisters and me to believe in our dreams and to always have fun pursuing them. Dr. Jane Goodall taught me through example to be confident in my passions and beliefs, to always work hard, and to have a strong voice.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a young, aspiring female chef?
I think it’s very important to understand yourself and your voice. Cooking is only partially about skills and techniques. I think the most important part is what’s in your mind, heart, and history. Your life is your best ingredient. It’s necessary to understand who you are and how you became that person.

 

Natalie Slevin, Owner

Sugar Bakeshop (277 Broadway, Denver,)
Menu Item: Lemon-Lavender Popster (V) (Lemon Curd, Lavender Glaze)

What inspired this particular menu item/why did you choose this to be your GirlUp featured menu item?
Our Popster is the best-selling item that we have and I chose to feature our lemon lavender flavor for the Empower Through Flour campaign because I think it is the loveliest! It is also a flavor that our community would love to try.
As a woman who’s excelled in this industry, what does it mean to you to participate in this program?
Baking has been a huge part of my life since I was a little girl, and I love being able to participate in a program that offers something that is both creative and useful to other young women. I understand the value that comes with getting in a space that allows me to create and grow as a person and a professional—and I love that Empower Through Flour is setting the stage for the next generation of ladies to do the same thing.
Were there women accessible to/supportive of you in your journey to culinary success?
My mom is Greek, so learning how to cook and bake Greek pastries was one of the first places I started in the kitchen.  I was always guided by my mom and the women from whom she found inspiration. My mom always taught me to find value not only in recipes, but also the stories behind them.  As Sugar has grown over the years, I continue to be surrounded by a whole team of incredible women who support the vision of our bakery. The truth of who we are as a business is directly intertwined with the products we offer: we believe in creating space for beauty and joy in our personal and professional lives—we work hard to achieve that daily.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a young, aspiring female chef?
Working in the food industry is very demanding and it takes a lot of focus and resiliency. I would encourage any young woman looking to be a chef to connect with what inspires her most and play off of that. She should allow herself to evolve and stay curious as her career develops, surround herself with other people that value her interests (professionally and personally), and always try to remember those first moments when food made her dream bigger.