Many of our events are open to the public as well as our membership.

New Member Recruitment Event

Our Prospective New Members’ evening on 23 April 2024 was a roaring success.

Dames brought a number of very like-minded and interesting women in food, drink and hospitality who clearly enjoyed the opportunity to meet our members and each other.

A couple have already joined our ranks and we are hopeful that a few more will join before the start of the new fiscal year (September 1st)

Thanks to Ye Old Cock and Bull for stepping in at the last minute, to Cathy Sloman and Kate Howell for helping to organise the event, and for all those Dames who came to represent our chapter.

International Women’s Day 2024 – Report

We celebrated International Women’s Day this year with a passionate and inspiring debate on Food for Good: Women Changing Lives Through Food.

A group of 50 plus – LDE London members and guests – gathered in the Food and Drink Studio at Fortnum and Mason’s flagship store to listen to our excellent panel talk about making a difference through their work in food. We had a lively debate on what we, collectively and individually, can do to bring about changes in the face of official inaction.

The debate was chaired by outstanding food journalist Sheila Dillon, one of our Dame Patrons, who set the tone with an impassioned introduction about the high level of ultra processed food consumption in the UK, the increase in sickness through non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, the lack of joined up thinking on how to tackle the state of our food system, what happens when you let the market decide and much more besides.

Giving their personal perspective on the power of food in making a real difference to lives, our inspirational panel were members were:

Lucy Vincent, member of LDE London and founder and chief executive of Food Behind Bars, the UK’s only registered charity dedicated to transforming the food served in British prisons. Lucy talked about her work educating staff and prisoners on providing nutritious food and understanding how to cook it. She talked about a recent trip to prisons in Scandinavia where, in a stark contrast to the UK, there is better funding, pride in the food produced, an emphasis on nutrition and a sense that the really food matters. In the UK, the budget for a prisoner’s food is just £2.70 a day. This contrasts with £14 a day for a hospital patient – although in many hospitals it doesn’t taste as though this is the level of funding.

Nicole Pisani, chef, co-founder and executive chef of the school food charity Chefs in Schools. Formerly head chef at Nopi, Nicole decided 10 years ago that it was time to do something more powerful with her career and putting nutritious food on the plates of school children was the direction she felt most important to her. Emphasising the need to value the people who feed our schoolchildren, Nicole talked about the importance of providing hot meals in schools and the impact on children’s learning.

Dee Woods, award winning food actionist, member of the Food Ethics Council, celebrated cook, urban agroecologist and earth wisdom keeper. Dee advocates for good food for all and a just food system. Dee talked about co-founding Granville Community Kitchen and the need for a collective approach to food, food security and dignity for all. With up to one fifth of people in the UK unable to afford to eat, something is seriously wrong with our system and she is determined to work to improve things, from the bottom up and the top down.

Angela Hartnett, Michelin starred chef, author and one of the most high-profile women in the restaurant world. Angela talked about growing up in a home where no food was wasted, where eating together was important and food was for sharing. Angela was inspired by the way the hospitality industry came together during the Covid pandemic to help each other and to provide food where it was most needed – through Cook-19, Angela and her team delivered more than 20,000 meals to NHS workers.

The audience reacted enthusiastically during the Q & A, speaking eloquently and giving us all plenty to think about.  There was a real sense of energy in the room – women seeking positive change within the food industry within the UK.  There were lively discussions ranging from the negative impact of poor-quality food in hospitals, schools, prisons to the lack of focus on food education and a need for everyone to learn how to cook from scratch.  Questions were raised around the lack of a coherent UK food policy and why we don’t have a Ministerial position dedicated to food.

The debate continued enthusiastically post the event, with lots of comment on social media and a positive look towards what role women can play across the industry to continue to make changes for good through food.

If you missed the event, do share your thoughts on our social media channels and remember, every day should be International Women’s Day – at LDE London we celebrate women in the industry every day of the year.

Desert Island Dishes

With Anne Dolamore and special guest Darina Allen

Do you live to eat or eat to live?  For those contemplating the dishes they’d take to a desert island, the answer is most likely to be the former.

The video of the event is now available on our YouTube channel here

Anne Dolamore of Grub Street Books took her friend Darina Allen through the dishes that form a thread through her life, and their significance, and along the way we learned more of her personal history and anecdotes.

The event was FREE to view, as is the video, but Darina has nominated a beneficiary for any funds raised by this event, and so would like to encourage donations here

These will go to the Sustainable Food Trust who have shared their details below:

Our Mission:  We work to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food and farming systems on a global scale. To achieve this, we work catalytically to inform and influence individuals and organisations in leadership positions.

We are a small UK-based organisation making a big difference. Our direct involvement with practical agriculture, extensive experience in the fields of policy, regulation, standards, certification and the food market, coupled with our network of international contacts, makes us uniquely positioned to be a catalyst for change.

Meanwhile, enjoy the far-reaching conversation which will delight and charm in equal measure.

International Women’s Day 2023

Desert Island Dishes  featuring Asma Khan

Tuesday 14th March 2023  at 17:00

Asma Khan broke a few barriers when she turned a successful supper club into an even more successful restaurant.  As a second daughter  – and not the longed-for son – she had lived with that stigma but resolved to live her own life, her own way.  When it came to hiring the staff for Darjeeling Express she turned to the nannies and housewives who first filled her table and shared her food during those kitchen suppers and established an all-female kitchen – many ‘untrained’ and many still with her today.

Darjeeling Express outgrew its first premises in Kingly Court, Soho and, after a spell in residence at another venue in Covent Garden, Darjeeling Express 2.0 has just opened in a new and larger space in the same development.

Dame Julia Platt Leonard will quiz Asma on the dishes that have influenced her most and how her love of food inspired her to leave the law and become a restaurateur.

This event is now over but the recording can be viewed on YouTube

International Women’s Day 2022

*Now Postponed

As we prepared to honour International Women’s Day it became increasingly clear that sales have been affected by the current situation in Ukraine.  Understandably many are anxious about what is happening to its citizens.

So, rather than celebrate in this way, we felt it was time to show our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, especially its women, and postpone the planned event until such time as peace – hopefully – prevails.

Our thoughts go out to the many people from Ukraine living in the UK, especially those in hospitality.

If you want to help we suggest you follow #cookingforukraine who are encouraging people to raise money via supper clubs to support humanitarian efforts, or donate to World Central Kitchen (!/donation/checkout) or other UK agencies on the ground.

International Women’s Day 2021

Panel Discussion: Down on the Farm

Monday 8th March 2021 at 13:00

Our 5th annual International Women’s Day celebration moved, by necessity, to an online event.

Down on the Farm: the goats still need milking, the hens are still laying . . . and the beets grow on . . .  featured 3 prominent women in the UK farming community – Helen Browning, Chief Executive of the Soil Association and an organic livestock and arable farmer in Wiltshire (helenbrowningsorganic) Selina Cairns, a cheesemaker and sheepdairy farmer in Lanarkshire (Errington Cheese); Jess Vaughan (Ladie’s Organic Kefir), a dairy farmer in Gloucester making kefir; and from the USA Sylvia Ganier, whose farm in Nashville TN encompasses 350 acres producing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers (Green Door Gourmet).  Host Sheila Dillon led the discussions of how they’ve had to adapt to the global pandemic.  And a surprise guest joined in from the foothills of the Pennines in Lancashire – Dot McCarthy of Cronkshaw Fold Farm and the brains behind Goats on Zoom.

Video available to watch here

Kitchen Confidence – reinvention through cooking

This event was recorded on Tuesday 26th January 2021 and can now be viewed here

Three uniquely placed women discuss how teaching a new skill – specifically cooking and baking – benefits the pupil with both physical and mental confidence .

When someone learns how to cook, they are learning (how to read a recipe and interpret the instructions), numeracy (how measurements work, how to halve a recipe) and science (nutrition, what heat does to transform raw food into cooked food) – and even art when it comes to decorating or plating up.

In addition you are giving someone the skills to bake a child a birthday cake, or simply put a nutritious meal on the family table and, with luck and confidence, employability.

The teacher also has a role in mentoring and monitoring mental well-being, and in the case of our guests for this webinar, a continuing resource for career advice.

Sheila Dillon of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme led the discussion with

Pictured left, in same order

Hospitality vs Covid

Recorded on Monday 7th December  2020

Nisha Katona in conversation with Dame Alison Swan Parente

How do you keep a business going in the face of a pandemic? For those in the hospitality world, the pressures are enormous, and many have already lost the fight. Nisha – with 11 restaurants in her Mowgli Street Food chain, and one more pending – has been able to thrive. How?

Alison, the founder of the School of Artisan Food, has faced similar challenges – having to shut down during the first lockdown but luckily remain open as an educational establishment during the second – how do you continue to recruit students when they are faced with a bleak future? Where competition for jobs will be fierce? These and many other issues will be discussed during their conversation.

The recording of this event is now available on the LDE London YouTube Channel here

The Food Chain

Recorded on Tuesday 17th November 2020

Joanna Blythman in conversation with Sheila Dillon

Two giants of our food media – food journalist Joanna Blythman and, for 20-plus  years, the head of BBC’s R4 Food Programme Sheila Dillon – in a conversation covering the wide-ranging subject of food through the filter of the global pandemic and Brexit: what does the future look like for the world of hospitality and restaurants; how do we trust the Food Chain post-Brexit;  gene-edited foods and labelling; sustainability and plant-based diets; and more . . .

Watch the video here

The Nine Lives of Elisabeth Luard

On Tuesday 20th of October 2020 Elisabeth was joined in conversation by her long term friend and publisher Anne Dolamore of Grub Street Publishing 

The talk took the audience through her ‘nine lives’ so far, from her life among the Latins, to her high life in Paris, feminism and life as a deb, to her ‘low life’ art school, Soho & Private Eye phase, to her painting life and more in between.

Enjoy the recording of the event here

This was the first in a series of monthly online talks highlighting issues relevant to the current pandemic crisis.

International Women’s Day 2020

March 9th 2020, 18:00* – 20:30

SMEG Showrooms, 14 Lower Regent Street, London SW1Y 4PH

Panel: Skye Gyngell, Phil Howard, Geetie Singh Watson and Clare Smyth

Moderator: Sheila Dillon

Kitchen Balance: The Advantage of Employing Female Chefs

With frequently negative views on women chefs in professional kitchens, it’s time to redress the balance.

Chefs Phil Howard, Clare Smyth, Skye Gyngell and Geetie Singh Watson will debate the many advantages to maintaining a gender balance in their kitchens, focussing on how the skills women bring into that environment can be positive for the whole brigade.

Tickets available on Eventbrite – – from Saturday 1st February

*Doors open at 18:00, programme starts at 18:45

Net proceeds of ticket sales will benefit Refettorio Felix and The Felix Project

International Women”s Day 2018

LDE London’s Women in Food Series: Where are the women chefs?

8 March 2018 – 6:30-9:00 pm

Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School

15 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1 2L

BUY TICKETS HERE – – Eventbrite – £15 (£5 donated to Breast Cancer Care)

Fewer than 25% of chefs working in the UK today are women. Why are they so under-represented in professional kitchens?  Why aren’t there more women chefs and why are there so few in the top jobs?

Join BBC Radio 4 Food Programme host Sheila Dillon as she talks to a panel of women working in the culinary field about the challenges facing women in the kitchen. Expect a lively discussion from this diverse group of talented women.

Hosted by LDE London, an affiliate of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, an organisation that supports and mentors women in the food and drinks industry. Celebrating International Women’s Day, and  co-sponsored by Le Cordon Bleu, the event will support the work of Breast Cancer Care and LDE London.

Our Guest Panellists

Anne Willan is recognised as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on French cooking and founded the École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris in 1975. With more than 50 years of experience as a teacher, cookbook author, culinary historian and food columnist,  she has written more than 30 books, among them the influential La Varenne Pratique and the 17-volume Look and Cook series. She was inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2013 and received the Legion D’Honneur, Chevalier award from the French government for her life long dedication to and promotion of French cuisine in 2014. She is also a Grande Dame of Les Dames d’Escoffier International.

Anna Haugh is originally from Dublin and was taught to cook by her Mother, from whom she developed a passion for Irish food. Anna started cooking professionally at the Michelin starred l’Ecrivain. In 2004 she moved to London and worked for Shane Osborne, Philip Howard and Gordon Ramsay. Through her career so far, Anna has been a head chef, an executive chef, a Director, has filmed two series of Royal Recipes for BBC1 and is a regular on BBC’s Saturday kitchen.

Asma Khan moved from Calcutta in 1990. After working as a coordinator for a Women’s Aid Refuge in Cambridge, she studied Law and earned a PhD in British Constitutional Law from Kings College London. She launched Darjeeling Express in April 2012 with £50, working out of her home kitchen. Opened as a restaurant in 2017 to rave reviews, Darjeeling Express houses an open kitchen run by South Asian housewives, most of whom began as part-time assistants when Asma was cooking from her home. Her debut cookbook will be published by Pavilion Books later this year.

Olia Hercules trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine, and worked as a chef de partie in restaurants, including Ottolenghi and then as a recipe developer before landing a book deal for Mamushka, a cookbook that celebrates her family recipes. It won the prestigious Fortnum and Mason award for best debut cookbook 2016 and Olia was named the Observer Rising Star of 2015. Her second cookbook, Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond was published in 2017.

Desert Island Dishes

With Sheila Dillon and special guest Prue Leith

Thursday 20th May at 1pm

Do you live to eat or eat to live?  For those contemplating the dishes they’s take to a desert island, the answer is most likely to be the former.  Having starred in some of the nations best-loved food shows – The Great British Menu and The Great British Bake-off – Prue needs little introduction. However, for those who don’t know here history, here are a few bullet points:

Prue Leith’s career has included her own restaurants, catering and cookery school businesses; she’s been a board director of companies such as British Rail, Halifax, Safeway, Whitbread, Woolworths, and Belmond (ex-Orient Express) Hotels.

She has published eight novels, a memoir, Relish and 14 cookbooks. Her latest cookbook, The Vegetarian Kitchen, which she co-wrote with her niece Peta Leith, was published in 2020.

Among her awards she has a CBE, 12 honorary degrees or fellowships from UK universities, the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the year, and her restaurant, Leith’s, won a Michelin star.

She is married with two children and four grandchildren.

Sheila will talk her through the dishes of her life, and their significance, and along the way we’ll learn more of her personal history.

The event is FREE but we have selected a beneficiary for any funds raised by this event, and so would like to encourage donations here

These will go to Migrateful who run cookery classes led by migrant chefs who are struggling to integrate and access employment due to legal and linguistic barriers. Their mission is to empower and celebrate their chefs on their journey to employment and independence.

International Women’s Day 2017

International Women’s Day Women Empowered by Food

Wednesday, March 8th

A conversation with Sheila Dillon (BBC R4’s Food Programme host) and guests Elizabeth Luard, Sarit Packer, Yasmin Khan and Camilla Schneideman.

At Bulthaup Showroom, 36-42 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1M 5PS

The Real Greek, Bankside

Monday, March 27th

Tonia Buxton and Mary Pateras present A Greek Lenten Meal, featuring traditional dishes prepared in the period leading up to Greek Orthodox Easter. Price includes three courses plus wine.

New Member Induction 2018-19

Wednesday, June 5th

The London Chapter met in June to welcome new members at the newest branch of Mimo Kitchen in Borough Market. This lovely space was perfect for our gathering, especially with its backdrop of Southwark Cathedral. Mimo graciously provided some delicious tapas to pair with a selection of Spanish wines and we were joined by the Chair of Trustees of Borough Market, Christine Elliott who is the first woman in the 1000-year history of the market to hold that position.

New members include: Jean Egbunike, Ching He Huang, Debbie Vernon and Andrea Waters. Unable to attend were Sara Danesin and Jenny Greenhalgh. Also being ‘pinned’ were Miranda Gore Browne and Nicola Lando who missed out in 2018.

We are excited by the enthusiasm and dynamism of our new members and look forward to the contributions they will make to our chapter.

New Member Induction 2017-18

Wednesday, October 11th 2017

We had a record number of new Dames to welcome to the chapter this year.  The event, held at Cactus Kitchens in their Michel Roux Jr Cooking School, was a lively affair with plenty of networking.  We are delighted to have so many talented and dynamic new members joining us and we look forward to an exciting year ahead.

Greek Summer Supper

Wednesday, July 17th – 6.30pm – 9.30pm

There are still a few places available for this special dinner.

While it may be at Jacqui Pickles’ home in Balham we’ll be imagining we’re on some small Greek island, with our toes in the warm Aegean water, enjoying some local food and excellent wine prepared by Dame Mary Pateras and Jacqui.

Doesn’t that sound enticing?

Please let me know if you’d like to join us – payment of £30 for the dinner, including wine, up front please to secure your spot.