#TBT to Women’s Empowerment

Exactly one week ago, on Thursday, Jan. 31, more than 100 bold, brave (and hungry) women came together at Macy’s Home South Coast Plaza for the final installment of the three-part Local, Global & Me, a Women’s Empowerment Series.

The event was sponsored by Orange County United Way and Bank of America, and featured a special presentation promoting the power of prioritizing health and salubrious habits that can positively impact a community.

Celebrity Chef Jamie Gwen enlightens the crowd with her epicurean knowledge at Local, Global & Me, Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School and Cafe, Macy’s Home, South Coast Plaza.

Evening festivities began with wine and mingling, (as all the very best evening festivities should). Local, Global & Me-ers also networked with Macy’s cosmetic vendors, who provided free touch-ups and consultations. 

Then, the crowd moved into the newly expanded Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School and Cafe kitchen for a live demo delivered with energetic aplomb by celebrity chef and lifestyle expert Jamie Gwen. The butternut squash soup she made was filled with healing spices and perfumed the space with the sweet smell of sautéed onions and warm, wintry goodness. Between stirs and slices, Chef Jamie treated attendees to her cornucopia of food knowledge. Did you know you should be eating turmeric daily for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties?

Next up on the agenda was a lively panel discussion moderated by Shirley Quackenbush, managing director of The Quackenbush Group Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. “I’m proud to make an impact on the community,” Quackenbush said at the start of the session.

Dr. Mahtab Jafari (UCI) and Chef Jamie Gwen on the final night of Local, Global & Me.

Three exciting panelists — Sue Graham, vice president and store manager of Macy’s at South Coast Plaza; Dr. Mahtab Jafari, professor and vice chair of UCI’s Department of Pharmaceutical Services; and Chef Jamie from earlier butternut squash soup fame — shared personal stories, anecdotes and inspiration. Highlights included the nifty fact that we share 75% of our genes with fruit flies, (thank you, Dr. Jafari) and the little-known tidbit that a company in Huntington Beach is making the world’s only truffle hot sauce.

The final night of Local, Global & Me ended with a prize giveaway and a general sense that women’s empowerment grows locally, impacts us globally and starts with me.