Salute to Women 2024 – Think Tank

Spring Event – Monday, March 11th 2024
Mockingbird C’Ville – Charlottesville, VA

Join us for an exclusive event where you’ll get to brainstorm business strategy with many talented women of the Region!

“Business success is dependent on the partnerships you develop. From our speakers, our moderators, and their panels, Taste of Blue Ridge, provides a “Think Tank” environment with high engagement from our culinary and agricultural businesswomen audience.” Nancy Craun, Founder

Purpose Driven Branding Strategies

Having spent nearly two decades collaborating with purpose-driven founders, Kathryn Tuttle has discovered the keys to transforming great ideas into brands that not only thrive but also make a significant impact. She will lead a discussion with summit participants to discuss successful branding strategies and provide practical advice to bring them to life.

Meet Kathryn Tuttle – Keynote Speaker

Kathryn Tuttle is an executive advisor to entrepreneurs and early-stage companies building purpose-driven brands. Previously, she served as the Chief Commercial Officer at Farmer Focus,  the largest exclusively organic poultry company, and as a founding executive and the Vice President of Marketing at Freshpet, the first fresh pet food company.

Tuttle’s passion comes from her love of food and its impact on people. Her mission is to use food, and consumers’ passion for it, to improve our world.  With over twenty years of experience transforming and scaling businesses across the natural food and pet industry, she has a proven track record for building category-leading growth brands. Tuttle’s innate ability to assess the complex challenges of growing businesses and develop a road map to growth and longevity enables her to be a catalyst for change while building a thriving business.


Kathryn Tuttle


Amanda Wyne Luhowiak of the Whole Ox

James Beard Foundation’s WEL – Amanda Luhowiak, Panel Leader

Listen to three women discuss their experience with The Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) flagship program is an advanced educational, training, and networking program for owners or co-owners of brick-and-mortar food or beverage businesses in the United States. Each cohort comprises 20 participants. WEL alumnae form a strong and broad community, with regular opportunities to connect with each other and the Foundation.

Through the 10-week virtual program and extensive curriculum, participants work to refine and articulate their goals and vision for growth, develop long-term strategies to scale their business(es) and increase revenue, grow as a leader, and create a network of support with each other and the broader WEL community. The program includes sessions on leadership, negotiating, strategy, business and financial models, funding your businesses, measuring success, and more.
JBF invests in this group of established women entrepreneurs to ensure the success and increase of women-owned businesses and foster a growing network of female entrepreneurs across the country.

“What Now?”

Plans are essential. But things never go according to them. So what now? What if you lose a business partner? What if you end up selling a product you never envisioned? What if there is a dangerous rally near your business and you end up in the middle of the fallout? This panel will engage with lived situations and create a holding space for the role of questioning, doubt, and determination to find a way forward, even if it’s not in the direction planned.

Meet Rachel Pennington – Panel Leader

Rachel Pennington is a great baker, a crappy capitalist, and a memoir/food writer. She owns The Pie Chest in Charlottesville, VA, a sanctuary of sorts for comfort, delicious food, and rest for the weary soul. Her culinary work has been featured in or mentioned on The Travel Channel, USA Today, the Boston Globe, Edible Blue Ridge, Southern Living, Our Local Commons, the Southern Foodways Alliance, the Edacious Podcast, Awaken My Soul Podcast, and various local publications. Her buttermilk biscuit has been featured at Flavored Nation as the state dish of Virginia. Rachel’s writing has been featured in Passages Literary Magazine, Forty Voices, The Porch, and she was longlisted for Craft’s Hybrid Writing Contest in 2023. Rachel is a doctoral student in the Creative Writing and Public Theology Program at Pittsburgh Seminary.


Chef Rachel Pennington


Leni Sorensen

“What will you do on Monday?”

Throughout history the answer has been “I’ll get myself up and go to work.” For 19th and 20th century women cooks, chefs, farmers, brewers and vendors it might have meant writing a cookbook, cutting and prepping, dealing with recalcitrant customers, budgeting for produce, getting the tractor going, and making/serving/providing meals to many. In the modern era it also means coming together with other women to achieve common goals, economic security, and pragmatic activism. I’ll share a bit of the history of how women in the past have worked toward those goals and how we come to be where we are now.

Meet Leni Sorensen

Leni Sorensen teaches culinary history and cookery. She earned her MA/PhD at the College of William and Mary in American Studies. She has worked for over thirty years as a university lecturer, museum consultant, hands-on presenter, and researcher with a focus on African American slavery, American agriculture, and women’s work in colonial and post-colonial America. Retired from Monticello, she is a public speaker, hosts culinary history dinners and teaches rural life skills from her home in Western Albemarle County in Virginia.

“Las Mujeres del Mezcal”

“Mezcal is Mexico’s most emblematic spirit. An agave beverage enshrouded in mysticism, rooted in tradition and preserved by generations of families, it is finally becoming known to the world and no longer sits in the shadow of Mexico’s much more ubiquitous spirit, Tequila. But what can we learn from this beverage’s traditions, artisanal production, and recent growth worldwide? What takeaways can we consider locally from small villages that work together to preserve traditions, empower communities, and promote the sustainable development of Mezcal? Let’s explore these topics and the critical role women play in all facets of the preservation and future growth of this complex and culturally critical agave beverage.”

Meet Erlinda A. Doherty

Erlinda is an emerging technology policy and governance consultant with a 20 + year career in international, federal, and state government affairs. With a Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University, she’s worked for and advised diverse organizations such as Accenture, the US Army, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the South Carolina Senate, and alcohol beverage companies. Erlinda is also a sommelier, wine and spirits educator, writer, and judge with a focus on independent, family-owned brands. Her role as the former Director of Communications and Education for the Mezcal Institute—a DC/Mexico City-based nonprofit entity promoting Mezcal—as well as her own personal efforts to promote Mezcal to the global marketplace, have resulted in her recent appointment as Global Ambassador by the Consejo Mexicano Regulador de la Calidad del Mezcal (COMERCAM), the Mexican organization authorized to protect the standards and preserve the traditions of this beverage. In this capacity Erlinda is empowered to continue educating, evangelizing, and preserving the cultural, historical, and mystical beverages of Mexico’s national spirit.



Erlinda Doherty


8:30 – Registration
9:00 – Introductions and Remarks
9:15 – “Purpose Driven Branding Strategies”, Kathryn Tuttle, Opening Speaker
10:15 – “What Now?”, Rachel Pennington, Moderator and Panel
10:45 – Coffee and Restroom Break
11:15 – “What Will You Do on Monday? – Dr Leni Sorenson, Historian
12:00 – “The James Beard Women’s Leadership” – Amanda Luhowiak and Panel
12:45– Restroom Break
1:00 – Lunch + “Las Mujeres del Mezcal” – Erlinda A. Doherty
2:30 – Closure.

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Hotel Room Discount
Discount Extended!

Plan your weekend around this great destination

Taste of Blue Ridge has special discounts you can use for your stay at the Quirk Hotel. Itinerary ideas will be added so you can plan a weekend around this Root to Table event.

Charlottesville, VA is about an hour from Richmond, VA and about 2 and a half hours from Dulles International Airport and Washington DC.