Regarding Her Brings Women of the Culinary World Together To Learn, Support Each Other, and Grow

Mar 08, 2023

Regarding Her Food is one of 22 nonprofits to receive an inaugural Impact Grant from, the company’s philanthropic arm, as a part of its Pledge 1% commitment. Regarding: Her is a National organization driven by women restaurateurs on a mission to empower and advance women food and beverage entrepreneurs through events, grants, mentorship programs and more. The Spotlight Series highlights outstanding organizations dedicated to enriching the food experience for all. 

Regarding Her Food (RE: Her) aims to help evolve and advance women, the hospitality industry, and society at large with funding, resources and experiences that center woman-owned businesses. Since its founding in 2020, RE: Her has distributed $350,000 in grants to support women restaurateurs and has grown to over 600 members in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Ahead of RE: Her’s Los Angeles Festival, we sat down with co-founder Dina Samson to learn about the organization’s skyrocketing growth, and the unique way it’s been able to help women support each other in the culinary industry.

Juggling it all

Dina Samson signs on to Zoom and apologizes for the background noise — her next restaurant, Superfine Playa, is in the process of remodeling before it opens this spring and she’s concerned the phone might ring during our conversation about her other big venture, RE: Her. Along with her husband, Steve, Samson has run three Los Angeles-area restaurants since 2011, Sotto, Rossoblu, and Superfine Pizza. Building each restaurant from the ground up, she knows firsthand how difficult it is to open and run a restaurant and the great knowledge and network needed to be successful. Seeing a need to build deeper connections with fellow women restaurateurs— an industry where less than 7% of businesses are helmed by women— she organized her first networking brunch at Rossoblu in 2019, after attending one that one of her RE: Her co-founders, Lien Ta, had held earlier in the year. 

"Just before COVID we were creating a very close knit community of women here in Los Angeles,” Samson said.

Dina Samson

Then, of course, came the COVID-19 pandemic and with it an abrupt end to brunches and networking events, as well as a newfound world of challenges for restaurateurs. For Samson, though, this didn’t mean an end to the community, but rather inspiration to find new ways to support each other. 

“During COVID, I kept talking to other women in the industry, like Mary Sue Milliken, Lien Ta, and Sylvie Gabriele [all of whom ultimately became co-founders of Re: Her] and we realized some of us were doing better than others,” she said. “We wanted to help others that weren’t doing so well while putting a spotlight on women-owned businesses. We didn’t want to talk about the suffering of our industry, but really create a way to celebrate our community instead.”

With that, Regarding Her Food was born, first as a takeout food festival supporting women-owned restaurants across Los Angeles.

“It was really such a bummer of a time, and everyone was doing takeout, so it started as just a way to do something fun,” said Samson.

Coming together.

The first RE: Her festival debuted in January 2021 on the anniversary of the Women’s March, bringing together nearly 100 women-owned food and beverage brands and restaurants with 85 virtual and take-out events across Los Angeles. Samson and her co-founders expected to get about 50 businesses to participate in programming and food specials — they ended up with 95, raising over $150,000 for their grant program. With that success, and leaning on their own experiences as women restaurateurs, Samson and the founders of RE: Her began to think how they could support women outside of simply drumming up business.

“Yes, they loved receiving the grants, but really more importantly, they wanted the network,” she said. “You needed a way to call somebody and say, ‘Hey, is this happening to you, too?’ or ‘Hey, do you have a lawyer? Do you have a plumber?’ You didn’t feel alone anymore.”

The growing network inspired RE: Her Academy, a 10-week education and grant program, which offers $20,000 to 10 women who apply each year. Program recipients are selected by an independent grant committee and judged on their plans and readiness for growth, including both new restaurateurs and existing hospitality concepts looking to expand their business.

Beyond funding, RE: Her Academy brings grantees together each week to learn from experts on a new topic, from finding investors to marketing and leadership, and even mental fitness and wellness. The experience proved educational not only for program participants, but for Samson as well, who worked tirelessly not just to share her expertise, but expand the program to give women what they needed and wanted to support their businesses.

“The cool thing about it was, we set an agenda for the 10 weeks, but then as every week went on, we would survey them to ask ‘what did you like, what did you not like? Are there other questions that you still have?’ And then we would tailor the sessions as we went along for everyone’s needs,” said Samson.

Re:Her Cofounders 

“It keeps getting better and better.”

As word of RE: Her spread, inquiries came in from women all over the world interested in starting their own chapters, as well as corporate sponsors looking to support their mission.

“To us, it’s been important to work with people who really understand our business and community. A lot of companies have offered us money, but we want to make sure we’re building long-term partnerships with companies who share our core values,” she said.

The first expansion of RE: Her launched in March 2022 with a festival in Washington, D.C., supporting 100 women-owned restaurants in the area with specials and events. Samson and her team are far from stopping there — in addition to planning the next installment of their Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. festivals, RE: Her has teamed up with The James Beard Foundation and Women in Hospitality United to form a coalition that will work to solve some of the biggest problems facing women in restaurants today, from fair pay to childcare.

For now, RE: Her has two membership categories for restaurant owners, and another for leaders, including head chefs, sommeliers, and other decision-makers in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. As RE: Her looks to the future, they are looking to develop programs that can include women from all parts of the hospitality space, and in additional markets.

“The more people hear about it, the more they want to be a part of it,” said Samson. “We’ve done so much in so little time, and it just keeps getting better and better.”

Dina Samson is a co-founder of RE: Her as well as a co-owner of Los Angeles restaurants Rossoblu and Superfine Pizza, which she runs with her husband, Steve Samson. In addition to RE: Her, Samson also co-founded the charitable organizations Rossoblu Restaurant Relief Fund, Feeling Superfine Program, and FeedLoveLA, which all focus on addressing food insecurity issues in her community. Samson is both a James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership and C200 WinLab fellow. You can follow her on Instagram.

Along with Samson, RE: Her was founded by Mary Sue Milliken, Lien Ta, Sylvie Gabriele, Bricia Lopez, Brittney Valles, Heather Sperling, Kim Prince, and Sandra Cordero, all of whom own restaurants in the Los Angeles area. You can learn more about RE: Her, partner restaurants, and how to get involved.

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