Celebrating Women in Food and Beverage: The Empowering Journey of RE:Her’s Annual Festival

This Women’s History Month, the culinary landscape of Los Angeles will be adorned with the essence of female empowerment, thanks to the Regarding Her (RE:Her) organization’s 4th annual festival. Designed to uplift and support women-owned and led food and beverage businesses, this year’s festival extends throughout March, promising an enriching tapestry of events that highlight the innovation, creativity, and resilience of women in the industry.

At the heart of the festival are passionate individuals like Kei Okumura, of Sugarbird Sweets & Tea, Kitty Lam of Dai Pie Dong, Hedy and Ashley from Rooted Fare, Anne from the Tea Programme, and Anna, a dedicated pastry chef. Their stories and motivations for joining RE:Her this year are as diverse as their culinary backgrounds, yet they share a common thread: the desire to foster community and empower women in the food and beverage sector.

Kitty Lam: Creating Spaces for Community and Empowerment Kitty Lam’s initiative, Dai Pie Dong’s Sunday Service, is not just about culinary delights; it’s about creating a “third space” for the community to socialize and connect. Inspired by the lack of communal spaces she observed upon moving from London, Kitty aims to use her culinary skills to foster a sense of community in Los Angeles. “It’s bigger than just the food,” Kitty explains. “It’s about creating a space for people to come and chill out, eat, and socialize… I wanted to launch this Sunday Service concept… it’s a kind of mass bringing people together to create their own community.”

Ashley: Rooted in Tradition and Innovation For Hedy and Ashley, the co-founders of Rooted Fare, their participation in Kitty’s event under the umbrella of RE:Her is an honor. Their modern and fun Chinese-American spreads, like the black sesame crunchy butter, are inspired by family recipes passed down through generations. Ashley shares, “The topic of women is inspired by my grandma’s recipe… it’s kind of like a 3.0 of my grandma’s recipe.”

Anne: Bridging Cultures Through Tea Anne brings a unique element to the festival with her focus on tea ceremony fashion, a tradition she inherited from her father, a tea master. “Tea Ceremony is really supposed to be a reflective time… I’m hoping to create those atmospheres in partnership with Kitty’s event under Regarding Her,” Anne shares, highlighting the role of women in preserving and innovating within culinary traditions.

Anna: A Pastry Chef’s Journey of Resilience Anna’s story is one of resilience and adaptability. After being laid off during the pandemic, she turned to baking from her apartment, engaging in community-based fundraising and outreach. “I love being able to do my own freelance pastry chef practice outside of a kitchen,” Anna reflects, emphasizing the significance of community and empowerment in her journey.

Adding to the empowering narrative of the Regarding Her (RE:Her) festival is Kei Okumura, the founder of Sugarbird Sweets & Tea. Her experience underscores the festival’s crucial role in fostering a supportive community for women navigating the complexities of the food and beverage industry. Kei eloquently shares her journey, highlighting the transformative impact of RE:Her on her professional and personal growth.

Kei Okumura, of Sugarbird Sweets & Tea: “In a business where you’re constantly putting out fires, dealing with employees, and navigating through various business structures, it’s such a great community to be part of. It makes you feel like you’re not alone in the trenches, battling the same battles day in and day out,” Kei reflects. Her initial sense of isolation before joining RE:Her is a sentiment many women in the industry can relate to. “I felt pretty alone in that environment, trying to seek out mentors and talking to other business owners. There’s a certain comfort in talking to a group of women because it feels like we can bypass some of the machismo often found in restaurant environments.

RE:Her has given me not only mental relief and comfort but also the resources to reach out to people who can help with the challenging questions that come with running a business in the food and beverage world,” Kei concludes. Her testimony is a powerful addition to the stories of Kitty, Hedy, Ashley, Anne, and Anna. Together, these women illuminate the path toward a more inclusive, supportive, and empowering culinary industry, celebrating the unique strengths and challenges of women entrepreneurs and chefs during Women’s History Month and beyond.”

A Unified Vision for Women in Culinary Together, these women embody the spirit of RE:Her’s mission to support and elevate women in the food and beverage industry. Kitty Lam sums up the collective sentiment, stating, “It’s certainly true that cooking can be quite male-dominated… and it’s been really refreshing to be in touch with a lot of women chefs and food people.”

As the festival unfolds, the stories of Key, Kitty, Hedy, Ashley, Anne and Anna serve as a beacon of inspiration for women aspiring to make their mark in the culinary world. Through their participation in RE:Her’s Women’s History Month Festival, they are not only showcasing their talents but also laying the groundwork for a more inclusive and equitable industry.

Information about Re:Her, Visit regardingherfood.org

Sugarbird Sweets & Tea Presents: Global Afternoon Tea On March 16th and 17th, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, Sugarbird Sweets & Tea will transform into a global tea room under the guidance of founder Kei Okumura. The Global Afternoon Tea event is a testament to the universal language of food, bringing together flavors from around the world.

Dai Pie Dong’s Sunday Service: A Weekly Culinary Community Space On March 24th, from 12 pm to 5 pm, Kitty Lam’s Dai Pie Dong takes center stage at Ginza Nishikawa, offering a once-a-week neighborhood gathering dubbed the Sunday Service. This event seeks to create a “third space” for people to meet, eat, and socialize outside of their homes and workplaces

Instagram Handles:

Kitty Lam / Dai Pie Dong: @daipiedong_la

Kei Okumura / Sugarbird Sweets & Tea: @sugarbirdsweets

Anna Rose Yoken:  @annarose_kitchen

Anne Jang / Tea Talk Tea Talk: @teatalkteatalk

Ashley Xie / Rooted Fare: @rooted.fare

Photo credits: Courtesy of Regarding Her


Sign up for FREE to receive our exclusive Weekend Roundup!

Get the best things to do in our favorite SoCal spots delivered to your inbox every week

Los Angeles

Orange County

San Diego