Scholarship and Stipend Recipients

To date, the Austin chapter of Les Dames has awarded more than $85,000 in scholarships to women pursuing excellence in their respective fields.

Jaci Hodges - Awarded $1000 for Les Dames Austin / Wonder Women of Wine Scholarship (2019)

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“Receiving this scholarship means that I’m on the right path, that my journey in the wine industry has led me to what I’m meant to do. This scholarship is advancing my career in wine by giving me some financial stability and support for my educational, hands-on journey into winemaking. I will be spending the year harvest-hopping. The rest of 2019 I’ll be working and learning state-side. I’ll be in Texas over the summer and then Vermont in the fall. Next year I plan on going back to the Mosel to lend a hand with some off-season work and then somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere for another harvest.”

Jocelyn Jerrils - Awarded $8000 for Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts (2018)

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Jocelyn spent most of her life in California and Oregon until she fell in love with Austin in 2016. She has always had a strong passion for food and a desire to go to school, so applied to Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. That same month, she discovered Springdale Farm and Eden East and knew that was the place for her to work and learn while witnessing the full cycle of food from seed to plate. Jocelyn has been most inspired in her culinary journey by the strong, successful women she has encountered and looks forward to both her future and learning and growing everyday in the present.  

Amelia Sweethardt - Awarded $3250 for Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese in Vermont (2018)

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Amelia Sweethardt grew up on the Pure Luck farm and still lives within view of her goats and dairy in the small town of Dripping Springs, TX.  She has 20 years of cheesemaking experience, runs Pure Luck’s daily operations, and manages a dairy herd of about 100 Nubian and Alpine goats.  Pure Luck's handmade farmstead cheeses have been recognized by the American Cheese Society with national awards and are available in Austin and Houston.

Ali Schmidt - Awarded $1445 for Court of Master Sommelier Advanced Exam (2018)

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Ali Schmidt is a Certified Sommelier and a native Austinite. She fell in love with wine over a glass of Tokaji and the mysterious aromas of botrytis. This curiosity led her to a career in Wine and Hospitality. Her restaurant career in Austin began with four years at Uchiko before leading her to a Captain and Sommelier role at Jeffrey's. Since 2017 she has held her dream job as Manager and Wine Director at Emmer & Rye. 

Gaby Kraml - Awarded $950 for Spanish Language Nutrition Classes (2018)

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I am a Registered Dietitian with a focus on community nutrition and food security. I have lived all over the midwest and now have found my home in Texas. My passion is teaching people that eating healthy on a budget is possible and can be delicious. I am using my LDEI scholarship to take Conversational and Medical Spanish classes to help me pursue a career in community nutrition and food access here in Austin, Texas.

Lauren Busch - Awarded $845 for Introductory Sommelier Exam (2018)

Lauren is a native Austinite who is a recent Texas State graduate with hopes to complete her Introductory Sommelier course before the end of the year. She has a propensity for learning and travelling, and finds joy in exploring new places and their cultures throughout each destination. Using her hospitality experience and knowledge of wine, Lauren expects to establish a career on working and learning with fellow women in the industry.

Tara Chapman - Awarded $825 for The Art in Queen BEE Rearing Course (2018)

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Tara Chapman is the founder and owner of Two Hives Honey. After almost 10 years working for the U.S. government in intelligence and oversight in Pakistan and Afghanistan, she took a chance beekeeping class and fell in love with the bees.  Six months later she quit her job to work for a beekeeper rearing queen bees during the spring season, and shortly thereafter started Two Hives Honey, a full service beekeeping and honey business.

Cortney TenHet - Awarded $4000 for Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts (2017)

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WHERE IS SHE NOW: “It's been such a whirlwind of a year since I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from Les Dames Austin! I spent the end of August 2017 to January 2018 in Orlando completing my culinary externship at Walt Disney World. Upon my return, I began working travel events for Global Event Group, a catering and logistics company out of College Station, TX. So far, I've traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Fort Lauderdale, and Chicago working events like the Tortuga Music Festival, ACL and Lollapalooza. It's been an amazing experience seeing catering on such a massive scale.

“In May 2018, I began working the line at a sweet little restaurant called Tiny Boxwoods on 35th Street near Seton Hospital. They have two locations in Houston that I frequented prior to culinary school. I was excited to learn that they were building the Austin location while I was in school, so I followed their progress on Instagram and applied for Front of House Manager when I settled back in Austin. I am super excited about this opportunity. I've been so happy there; good people, great food, and a beautiful aesthetic. I'm even thinking of getting more education through an online certification program through Cornell.”

KARINA CALDERON - Awarded $4000 for Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts (2016)

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WHERE IS SHE NOW: “I received a Les Dames scholarship in 2016 for $4,000, which I used towards studying abroad in Sorrento, Italy for 3 months. There I took hospitality courses and worked at a mom and pop from scratch kitchen baking brioche, croissants, various breads, and constructing/decorating custom cakes.

“Since then, I've graduated culinary school and am currently studying business and marketing with plans on transferring to UT in 2020. I am currently the kitchen manager of a pizzeria called 600 Degrees in Georgetown, TX and will be opening up the 600 Marketplace this coming December/January as a general manager and head of catering. I am very excited about this transition because I will be able to put my pastry arts skills to good use since we are going to be making many baked goods for wholesale orders.”


LDEI is an international organization of women leaders who create a supportive culture in their communities to achieve excellence in the food, beverage, and hospitality professions. To do this, members in our chapters provide leadership, educational opportunities and host philanthropic events within their communities. The Austin Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier was founded in 2003 and represents more than 110 culinary women professionals in the Austin area. For more information, visit LDEIaustin.org or on Facebook at Les Dames d’Escoffier Austin Chapter.