Celebrating Women Fighting Food Waste this #InternationalWomensDay

Posted by Fiona Montie / 8-Mar-2023


This #InternationalWomensDay, Winnow wants to celebrate several visionary women in foodservice who pave the way in sustainable cuisine. It goes without saying that women are amazing every day. But in foodservice, women are often the unsung heroes of leading teams, creating exquisite food, and paving a more sustainable future. In the United States, Zippia estimates that over 60% of foodservice employees are women, but women only fill 25% of all chef roles. It is an industry powered by women that promotes and hires men more frequently into leadership roles. 

At the same time, climate leaders acknowledge a common thread in efforts that successfully address climate change and climate justice worldwide: They’re often led by women. Nina Jeffs, UNFCCC contributor, explains that Women’s participation in climate decision-making leads to more effective and equitable outcomes. Women tend to assess risk differently, prioritize the welfare of their communities, and push for more ambitious climate policies. When women are given the power, resources, and tools, they make sustainable changes.

Read on to learn about six women in foodservice and women-led teams tackling food waste and embodying sustainability at large. While these six women hail from the U.S., Caribbean, Ireland, and the UK, we acknowledge truly countless women leaders in foodservice across the globe, many of whom we are incredibly proud to work with. 


Diane Chamberlain - ISS Guckenheimer Chef Manager

Tampa, Florida, USA  |  Winnow user since November 2022

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What originally drew you to work in food? 

I originally started in the Front-of-House.  At one particular restaurant I was working at, the cooks, to me, were "pirates", outlaws, rebels of society! But the food that the crew would create – I never knew food could taste or look like that! It was irony: the beauty of the dishes against the grunge of the motley crew in the back kitchen. I was so intrigued and excited watching them, I had to get in! I asked to train as a prep cook there, fell in love with it, and never looked back. That started my cooking career.

What sustains you and keeps you passionate about foodservice? 

I learn something new EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 

Why are food sustainability and sustainable cuisine important to you?

Looking at it as a chef, food cost of course! I also aim to source locally to cut down on emissions to aid against climate change. The impact of growing and producing foods is causing a huge impact on our planet. I want my son's children, and their children, to enjoy the wonders of this earth as I have, and do.

How do you motivate others to care about sustainability and food waste?

I am always trying to get my staff to think creatively with reworking food.  This gets them excited to try to come up with something that is "their own."


Paulette Purcell-Sherwood - Cost Controller at Iberostar Jamaica

Montego Bay, Jamaica  |  Winnow user since June 2022 

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What originally drew you to work in food?  

I have a passion for food, but I hate to see it wasted. So, being a cost-controller who tracks food waste and overproduction is actually a dream come true for me. 

What sustains you and keeps you passionate about food service?  

First of all, the love I have for what I do is enough to sustain me. I love food so being passionate in this area comes easily.

Why are food sustainability and sustainable cuisine important to you?

It's important because it's key to a better future, and humans rely on natural resources for business and survival. Through food waste reduction we can reduce methane emissions from landfills, and wasting food means wasting money, labour and resources. When food waste decomposes it produces harmful greenhouse gases which cause harm to the environment. 

How do you motivate others to care about sustainability and food waste? 

By raising awareness and also by showing them the disadvantages of food waste.


Ana Martínez Badía - Residence Catering Manager, London School of Economics
London, UK  |  Winnow user since October 2022


What originally drew you to work in food?

I think it was mainly curiosity to be honest. When I moved to London, I started to discover many different cuisines and ingredients that I hadn’t come across before in Spain. All the places I have worked have had very international staff, which means we’re always sharing stories on food and dishes and how we cook differently even if we’re sometimes using the same ingredients. So I always wanted to learn more about it. My brother is a chef so we’re always talking about different dishes that we’ve tried, different restaurants that we’ve been to - when he came to London I took him to every single street food market I knew. 

What sustains you and keeps you passionate about foodservice?

I think we have the option to show students not only a love of food, but as many of them are international we also have the opportunity to show them the world. They might see different interpretations of dishes that they have maybe never tried before. For me it’s amazing to work with chefs from all over the world, for example, from Hungary, Sierra Leone, Ghana. It’s great because I can learn from them and their style of cooking. We can tell stories through food and I think that’s beautiful. 

Why are food sustainability and sustainable cuisine important to you? 

I think all of us care about the planet. I don’t think we need to do huge things, the main impact is in the little actions. So we can introduce small changes to our habits and routines – try to reduce our food waste, work with local suppliers and farmers, work on seasonal menus and products. We will be able to eat fresher food which is local, it will help the local economy, reduce emissions and at the end of the day if we try to do all of these little things. It’s only going to benefit us. I know it’s very complicated these days in our current social and political climate but if we can make these small changes then we should. 

How do you motivate others to care about sustainability and food waste?

When we work with international staff and students, we all have a different approach and knowledge about sustainability. For example recycling in Spain is completely different than in England, and I bet that will be completely different to how it works in Korea or Nigeria. What we try to do here is give that knowledge to our staff and students. The sustainability team at LSE tries to put all that information out there in our restaurants, boards, newsletters and intranet so everyone is aware of our goals and how it works. We always try to give feedback, so the students and everyone know exactly what their impact is. We try to give reasons for everything, for example our plate waste system. We can tell the students to scrape their plates into the bin but unless we tell them why it’s important, they’re less likely to do it. We try to be as justified and clear as we can so everything is clearly communicated for maximum engagement. This will allow us to do everything properly and it will also allow us to see the real time impact. In this way we’re trying to make sustainability part of the culture, so everyone is educated and they want to make a difference so they can make all the small changes that will have the biggest impact. 


Ciara O'Donovan, Cliodhna O’Neill and Amber Bent - KSG at Tech Company
Dublin, Ireland  |  Winnow users since January 2023

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Left to right: Ciara O'Donovan (General Manager for KSG at tech company), Cliodhna O’Neill (Executive Sous Chef for KSG at tech company), Amber Bent (Dining Manager for KSG at tech company)

What originally drew you to work in food? 

Ciara O'Donovan: I have always worked in the F&B industry in some way or form since I started working at the age of 15. Food, to me, is the best part of a person’s day and I loved the idea of being a part of that. Working in the food and hospitality industry has the busy atmosphere that I thrive off of. It is constantly changing and evolving, and no two days are the same.

Cliodhna O’Neill: I was always a very hungry child and soon discovered food made me happy. If someone was eating something, so was I. My mother was sick since I was eleven, so I just started to help more and more in the kitchen. I realised I had a flair for it and enjoyed the creativity. Baking was where I really got the taste for it because I have a weakness for sweet things.

Amber Bent: I have heard the phrase “What we eat becomes us” so many times and I feel it is that simple. As someone who has family members who have long term illnesses I believe if they fuelled their bodies better when they were younger with a more nutritionally balanced diet then I feel they would not be suffering with as many health problems as they may be now. Most of my generation now would be more health conscious and I found the best way I could educate myself on this would be working with food. I also love working with people and seeing them happy and at the end of the day food does make us happy!

How do you motivate others to care about sustainability and food waste?

Ciara O'Donovan: I try my best to emphasise to my team and colleagues that we can actually make a real difference by being more mindful of the impact our actions have on the planet with regards to food waste and the segregation of it. As the food service provider here in Ireland at a large global company we have a responsibility to do our utmost to motivate the team to keep sustainability at the forefront of their mind during their every day tasks. I try to instil a ‘Stop, think, ask if in doubt, then do’ way of thinking within a team as it empowers the employee to make mindful decisions themselves and really feel like part of the solution.

Cliodhna O’Neill: I try my best to remind people that we must change our mindset when it comes to waste in the kitchens from what we used to think. It is a very busy environment and complacency can come into play at times. Culture can be difficult to change but by empowering people with information we will get there.

Amber Bent: We continuously discuss the impact food waste has on the environment by doing daily briefings with our teams on how important it is that we are all doing our part in trying to make better changes for the world we live in and how we can make a difference for future generations. Educating staff on how food scraps can be used in many different ways – for example, to make soups, sauces, and stocks – and also how generating less waste and using all durable items rather than disposables can help our planet.


For each woman above, there are countless female leaders in foodservice pushing forward sustainability initiatives that deserve recognition. On a local scale, women make things happen for their communities – they are coordinators, doers, and ideaters of a better future for all. On a global scale, women power our world through food, business, and insightful leadership. Let this International Women’s Day serve as a reminder of everything brilliant done by women every day! 

About Winnow

Winnow develops Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to help chefs in large businesses like hotels, contract caterers, casinos, and cruise ships to run more profitable, and sustainable kitchens by cutting food waste in half. Measuring food waste is a challenge for all commercial kitchens with up to 20% of all food purchased going to waste. Winnow offers a solution for every kitchen.

Our analytics platform and reporting suite help teams pinpoint waste quickly, allowing enterprises to drive significant waste reductions at scale. Kitchens that use Winnow cut food waste by half on average, driving food purchasing costs down by 3%-8%, improving margins whilst doing the right thing. Winnow is deployed in over 60 countries with offices in London, Dubai, Singapore, Cluj, and Chicago.


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