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Twin Cities Tastemakers Talk Women in Food

From left, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, Jacquie Berglund, Jodi Ohlsen Read, and Zoe Francois, Photo: Kurt Moses

Last night, as the fourth event in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine's Tastemakers series, the magazine's Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl and Stephanie March hosted a panel on women in food at the Ritz Theater (official title: "Doing It Their Own Way: Women Entrepreneurs Forging Their Own Original, Rather Brilliant Paths"). The panel featured Jacquie Berglund (CEO of Finnegans), Zoe Francois (co-author of the The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and pastry chef at Tilia), and Jodi Ohlsen Read (co-founder of Shepherd's Way Farms, and also the farm's cheesemaker).

Moskowitz Grumdahl started off the evening by saying that the event had been planned for months before the now-infamous "gods of food" issue of Time Magazine, and then, "Time Magazine managed to bring a lot of rage to the event." She later added, "Every crisis is an opportunity, and I think we can all use the horrible, no-good Time article to start conversation for years."

The panel spoke for an hour, covering how they got started on their career paths, how women can promote themselves, and their advice for women who are considering entering the food world or becoming entrepreneurs. Here are a couple of highlights:

· Francois on getting her start by working for Andrew Zimmern: "Had I known Andrew Zimmern, I don't know that I would have taken the job, so it was probably better that I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Although we were fast friends—after we told each other off and he kept his space and I kept mine. Very, very good friends. And he taught me a lot. When you were talking about promoting better teacher than Andrew Zimmern. And so that's how I got into this crazy world."

· Berglund on whether she thought about quitting and how she made it through: "I'm in a primarily male-oriented business. And so 13 years ago, to be a woman out there, trying to sell beer and saying, 'Oh, and by the way, I'm giving all the profits away,' people were like, 'You're out of your mind.' So, I got a lot of negative feedback that really, really drove me, and that is what actually at the end of the day drove me." (Finnegan's gives all its profits away to charity.)

· Ohlsen Read on where she'll be in five years: "I think I'll be making more cheeses, but not doing the dishes."

· Tastemakers [Mpls.St.Paul Magazine]

Ritz Theater

345 13th Ave. NE Minneapolis, MN