Virtual "Future of Food" lunch hour event will discuss equity in Memphis restaurant industry

Locals and non-Memphians alike can join a virtual discussion on the need for equity in the restaurant industry. Admission is free, but registration is required

New Memphis is hosting the Future of Food event on May 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. as part of their ongoing "Celebrate What's Right" luncheon series. 

Whitney Hardy of Epicenter and 3RDSPACE  will moderate the conversation, which will include chefs and restaurant owners Kelly English of Restaurant  Iris and Second Line and Mariko Wiley of Riko's Kickin' Chicken, as well as Sabine Langer, who is founder and owner of Global Café and Pizzeria Trasimeno.
Whitney Hardy of Epicenter and 3RDSPACE will moderate the "Future of Food" event on May 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Submitted)
“Memphis is blessed to have tremendous amounts of ‘rock stars’ in this space,” said Anna Thompson, marketing and communications manager for New Memphis.

“So, we wanted to try to get enough unique perspectives that crossed a lot of different lines. [Our panelists and moderator] can give the audience the background to understand why this conversation is happening.”

In the US, restaurant owners are typically white, male, and around 40 years old, according to data gathered from job listings, resumes, and the census by job search website Zippia. Thompson said the discussion will include why more equitable access to culinary careers is especially important in Memphis.

“It's no coincidence that [Memphis] food entrepreneurs, chefs, and restaurant owners are leading the charge and making sure that we have more access across the board,” said Thompson. “All of these people on our panel are going above and beyond to make Memphis even better by creating job opportunities and by mentoring.”

Event organizers hope that Memphis foodies, aspiring culinary entrepreneurs, and even those from outside the city will join the discussion.

“My hope is that they are reinvigorated about everything that we have going on in Memphis. My hope for every ‘Celebrate What's Right’ is that people understand the challenges and opportunities we have, but recognize where we're really knocking it out of the park,” said Thompson.

New Memphis’ Celebrate What’s Right series is sponsored by First Horizon Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. They launched the series in 2014. Past topics have included “Health Equity,” “Building a Memphis Brand,” and “The State of Education.”

When it’s safe to gather in person again, Thompson said the series will return to its traditional in-person luncheon format. 
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Read more articles by Sarah Rushakoff.

Sarah Rushakoff was raised in Memphis and is a graduate of White Station High School and the University of Memphis. She is a longtime member of Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe and works professionally as a graphic designer, writer, and photographer.