Real Leaders

Save Restaurants, Feed Heroes. How Eating Can Revitalize Communities

PODCAST PEOPLE: A Summary From the Real Leaders Podcast

“Let’s have a call to action. A call to service, so people want to help and make sacrifices for our country like we did to get out of the Depression, when we really depended on each other to pull ourselves up.”

Joanna James is the director and producer of A Fine Line, a documentary empowering women to become leaders in and out of the kitchen. As a result of years of research and her experience making this film, she has gone on to develop the MAPP Impact Campaign to increase women in leadership 

The following is a summary of Episode 94 of the Real Leaders Podcast, a conversation with director and producer, Joanna James. Watch, read, or listen to the full conversation below.

A Fine Line

Joanna explains the backstory that led to the making A Fine Line. What began as the chance to tell her mother’s story of perseverance as a small town restauranteur became the framework for a larger dialogue about gender disparity in the culinary world.

Only 7% of head chefs and restaurant owners are women, and according to Bloomburg News, “It is easier for a woman to become a CEO than a Head Chef.”

“For a while, some of the women that I spoke to said they had to put on an armor. They had to change the way they would normally act to be accepted and be able to advance in their career. Whereas today, you hear that’s not the case necessarily. Women are willing to be more authentic to who they really are and what they think is right. And the more women we have leading these kitchens or their own restaurants, the more we see a whole new way of leadership.”

Listen to Episode 94 on Spotify, Anchor, Crowdcast, and Apple Podcasts

Save Restaurants, Feed Heroes

Joanna also discusses her latest project in the works, a web series, Save Restaurants, Feed Heroes. The goal is to highlight the dedication of restaurant owners and workers to serving their communities and feeding healthcare heroes. But she also wants to emphasize the overlooked role restaurants play in the necessary functions of society and economy.

“Restaurants, cafes, bakeries, they literally revitalize a city, a town, a neighborhood. They bring people to that establishment and create community. And all of a sudden real estate values go up, all of a sudden you don’t have empty storefronts. More people want to go and create businesses around that pillar location.”

A New New Deal

In spite of Covid’s impact on local eateries, Joanna postulates that restaurants could play a key role in pivoting with the pandemic to make necessary societal changes.

“I could see we create a new deal, a new deal in the way we feed people, feed our workers. Now’s the time to be doing a lot of construction, empty streets, empty roadways, bridges. Let’s get past all the political gridlock and get people to work, do a lot more that has to do with energy and sustainability. And maybe we tap into the restauranteurs and the caterers and the cafes and bakeries to feed these people. We have to be creative, we need true leadership now to really bring a lot of different fields together, to come up with solutions that help everyone in all these different industries.”



Find out more about A Fine Line here:

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