Continuing its mission of uniting women in hospitality, the Women’s Food Alliance held its monthly event Nov.18 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Ponte Vedra Beach. For the occasion, Hilton Sales Manager and WFA member Carol Maurer hosted an autumn theme-inspired dinner by Sawgrass Events and five new alliance members were welcomed.
“This is our lucky night,” Maurer said. “We’re going on a tour of the hotel, we’re having a little scavenger hunt to find new members and then dine in our large conference room on the first floor with our caterer, Sawgrass Events.”
Maurer called herself a “newbie” of the WFA, saying she had not met some of the attending members yet, but was excited to meet them all.
“I love it so far and the concept of this group is great,” she said. “That’s in Conrad Hilton’s motto, spreading the warmth and light of hospitality all around the world.”
After checking in, guests searched through the hotel for the new-member tables and listened to other “newbies” introduce themselves and their product.
“This is my first event as a member,” said Amy Morales, educator-turned chocolatier and owner of Sweets for the Soul. “This has been a fabulous organization for me because it’s women in all facets of food, and Leigh has been so supportive,” Morales said, referring to founder, Leigh Cort. “They’re helping me learn and refine my business.”
Other new members included Kara Joseph from Be Wine Inspired; Hillary Lake, of Hillary Lake Events; Donna MacPherson, owner of Golden Isles Olive Oil & Gourmet Market; and Mr. Potato Spread’ Lakita Spann, who, with the help of her husband, created a unique, custom and hardy snack that’s been in business since 2014.
“My husband has a fine-dining background, so it was important for us to do something that you can dress up, dress down and duplicate easily,” Spann said about her business. “I’ve never met a person that doesn’t like potatoes and you can do almost anything with them. We’ve done surf-and-turf potatoes, lobster-and-shrimp potatoes, we can be as creative as we want to be.”
After new-member introductions, WFA members headed to the Hilton dining area, where Sawgrass Events served a savory pumpkin lasagna, with onions, mushrooms and cheese, topped with shredded parmesan and a grilled asparagus spear. Adding fall-festive color, a tower of carrot-sweet potato mash and roasted tomato halves were served on the side.
The rest of the alliance members briefly introduced themselves around the room between courses.
“The WFA is more about connecting, understanding and supporting one’s business, finding out what their passion is and what’s behind the hard work,” Cort said. “This is the only organization in my 50 years in business where there’s no competition, it’s all support.”
For more information on the Women’s Food Alliance, visit www.leighcortpublicity.com/womens-food-alliance.htm.