Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), an organization of leading professional women in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality, will present its prestigious Grande Dame Award to Dolores Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars of Rutherford, California. The award, which honors a lifetime of outstanding professional achievement, excellence and charitable/community contributions within the culinary industry, is bestowed biennially. She will receive the award at a gala dinner during the LDEI annual conference in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.
Dolores Cakebread is widely considered a visionary for not only wine but also an early adapter of utilizing local ingredients, home vegetable gardening and healthy cooking. She paired this vision with an interest in children and youth outreach. She is also known as an international pioneer promoter of how America ought to show off its food, wine, and agriculture products.
Born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, she married her high school sweetheart, Jack Cakebread and began a life in Oakland, California in the early 1970s. That made her part of the original Cakebread family business, an auto repair shop called Cakebread’s Garage in Oakland, California. In 1973, with land the family owned in Rutherford, California, she co-founded Cakebread Winery starting with just wood and nails and lots of dust. It was not a great time for Napa Valley wines. Thanks in part to the Cakebreads’ efforts, which would soon change.
The decades that followed reflected not only her dedication to the creation of fine California wines but also her singular vision of the winery needing to affect food-and-wine social change. Today, the award winning winery is a small village with dining facilities, five kitchens, guest quarters, state- of- the art winery production and vast vineyards.
Beginning in 1987, she co-founded and organized the first California Vin Expo American Food and in 1988 co-founded American Harvest Workshop, a four day non-profit educational effort that is held annually in September. Its goal is the appreciation of the nutritional and aesthetic qualities of the American cottage farm producers, wine, viticulture and cuisine. The workshop for invited chefs from around the world gives them a chance to work with locally grown ingredients, prep and cook them in the Cakebread kitchen, and ultimately understand the American bounty and foster the development of programs that promote and improve the quality, availability and marketability of American food and wine.
In 1989, Dolores was a founding member of Les Dames d’Escoffier San Francisco Chapter and served as its President in 2003. Other notable achievements include Co-Chairing the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 2006 that raised $8.6 million for the people of Napa Valley for children’s and needy adults’ health care. She is a founding member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the San Francisco Professional Food Society.
Dolores’s programs at the winery offer open- to- the public cooking classes, an annual open house and gardening classes. It’s worth noting that her staff includes a resident chef employed nearly two decades. Another sign that Dolores conducts her business with dignity is that Cakebread’s employees have one of the lowest turnover rates in the wine industry.
In recent years, Dolores underwent brain surgery to smooth out tremors and from that experience created the Dolores Cakebread Chair for her surgeon, Dr. Starr: Neurological Service Research for Essential Tremors & Parkinson Disease at the University of California, San Francisco.
She holds a Master Gardening Certification from University of California Davis and co-authored “The Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook: Wine and Recipes to Celebrate Every Season’s Harvest” a collection of more than 120 recipes perfected in the Cakebread kitchen over the past 35 years. She is most proud of her 59-year marriage to her husband Jack, and the raising of their three great sons.
Les Dames d’Escoffier (LDEI) is the premier organization of influential professional women who are committed to the advancement of education and philanthropy in food, beverage and hospitality for the good of the global community. The group has over 1500 members with chapters in 28 cities in the US and abroad. For further information about the group go to ldei.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LDEIdamesdescoffier