Danielle Leoni, chef at The Breadfruit, has been chosen by the James Beard Foundation as a 2018 fellow for the group's Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership program. This shouldn't shock anyone familiar with Leoni's intensity as a chef and her commitment to local, sustainable cooking.
"It's a tremendous honor because it's more than receiving a fellowship," Leoni says. "It's a mark of confidence from the James Beard Foundation. And they're leading the nation in food sustainability."
Twenty women were selected for the second-year program. As one of the recipients, Leoni will attend a five-day workshop at Babson College.
According to the Beard Foundation, the workshop "provides established women in the culinary world with the tools and knowhow necessary to grow their careers and scale their businesses." Some of the national food scene's leading minds will be on hand to teach and share.
Leoni plans to use what she'll learn through the program to benefit the operations of The Breadfruit, which she co-owns with her husband, Dwayne Allen, but also in her expansion of Leoni's Focaccia.
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Her focaccia concept no longer has a location. But Leoni has plans to have two operational by the end of 2020, including one in the airport.
This isn't Leoni's first tango with the Beard Foundation. In June 2017, she participated in a seafood program at the foundation's invitation. The program educated chefs on the nuances of sourcing seafood. The foundation awarded Leoni a "Seafood Sustainability Seal."
"It reactivated me," Leoni says of the 2017 program.
Leoni seems to be pretty activated already, running from long hours at The Breadfruit to classes for her master's in sustainability leadership program at ASU (which brings her to Amsterdam next week). But if the 2018 workshop has a similar effect as the 2017, Phoenix's eaters are in for a treat.