Elizabeth Wiley. Submitted photo

Beloved local chef wins prestigious James Beard fellowship

Chalk up a win for the Miami Valley’s restaurant scene.

The James Beard Foundation today announced the first 21 recipients of an inaugural program to help women chefs and restaurant owners grow their business — and the only recipient from Ohio or any of our surrounding states is our very own Elizabeth Wiley, the chef-owner of Meadowlark restaurant in Washington Twp. and owner of Wheat Penny Oven & Bar in Dayton.

RELATED: Daytonian of the Week Elizabeth Wiley (April 2017)

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Wiley was selected to participate in the Beard Foundation’s first Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) program, a five-day intensive training program that starts Sept. 10 at Babson College in Boston.

“I am extremely excited and honored to be among those chosen for the inaugural class,” Wiley said. The Beard Foundation received more than 100 applications for the program.

RELATED: Local chef and restaurant owner gets shout-out from NPR (July 2015)

Foundation officials said the WEL training will help cultivate women’s leadership in the culinary industry.

“Our foundation has made promoting diversity and women in leadership in the food and restaurant business a priority. Although women make up 50 percent of culinary school graduates, only 19 percent of executive chefs are female, and even fewer own their restaurants,” Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, said in a release. “Our newest one-week women’s entrepreneurial program at Babson College builds on previous successful programs to work toward our ultimate goal of significantly increasing the number of women-owned restaurants and food businesses.”

RELATED: Wheat Penny Oven & Bar announces opening date (August 2013) 

The WEL curriculum will address advanced business and finance concerns related to entrepreneurship and expansion, as well as provide gender-specific training and leadership development.

The James Beard Foundation’s chef awards, announced annually, are considered the Academy Awards of the restaurant industry.