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For the Love of Fine Food

Three venerable Asian chefs discuss their culinary careers, successes, and challenges at the Bank of America Women’s Leadership Series’ first luncheon of the 2018-2019 season



The Celebration

A sold-out luncheon featuring three respected Houston-area chefs kicked off Asia Society Texas Center’s (ASTC) fourth year of its Bank of America Women’s Leadership Series (WLS). The series is ASTC’s flagship program showcasing distinguished female professionals. About 200 guests attended the event, which was moderated by Vani Rao of BP America, and showcased Chef Christine Hà, Chef Jenni Tranweaver, and Chef Kiran Verma.


The Story

The three chefs, Christine Hà, winner of MasterChef season 3 and owner of The Blind Goat; Jenni Tranweaver, chef and owner of Jenni’s Noodle House; and Kiran Verma, chef and owner of Kiran’s, discussed succeeding as women in a male-dominated field, lessons learned from family and friends, and the paths that led them to where they are today. The main message that emerged was the importance of confidence and self-trust.


The Moments

For the first time at a Bank of America Women’s Leadership Series event, the menu was inspired by the speakers. Catered by Culinaire and overseen by Chef Barbara McKnight, the menu included soba noodle salad (inspired by Chef Tranweaver), Tandoori-rubbed chicken breast (inspired by Chef Verma), and chocolate chunk cookies and humble pie bites (inspired by Chef Hà). The audience members, many of whom were students from the University of Houston-Downtown and The Art Institute of Houston, were given the opportunity to pose questions during the Q&A session.

Guests: Mandy Kao, Y. Ping Sun, Nancy Allen, Ginger Blanton, Lisa Barksdale, Alice Mao Brams, Dr. Anne Chao, Rose Chen, Monjula Chidambaram, Cathy Cleary, Julie Cogan, Rania Daniel, Kathy Gondo, Kathy and Marty Goossen, Lily Kooros, Anu Lal, Sultana Mangalji, Sonia Garza-Monarchi, Kathy McGovern, Davana and David Petree, Shirley Quan, David Ruiz, and Deborah Stavis.

About Bank of America Women’s Leadership Series

Chaired by Mandy Kao and Y. Ping Sun, the programming of The Women’s Leadership Series (WLS) focuses on women who are making a substantive impact in society and business. The series provides a platform for influential women of Asian descent, as well as women engaged in leading efforts reflected in the Asia Society mission, to share their personal and professional experiences.

About Asia Society Texas Center

Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.

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