Walnut Hill College marks Women’s History Month with first woman chairperson

Mar 28, 2018WHC News

As part of its efforts to empower more women in the male-dominated culinary industry, The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College has elected Irene Rothschild as the first woman chairperson of its Board of Trustees. The announcement comes at the close of Women’s History Month, during which other women leaders at Walnut Hill College have been recognized for their outstanding work both at the College and in the culinary and hospitality industry.


Irene Rothschild has been a valued member of Walnut Hill College since 1996 when she joined its Advisory Board, and she has been a member of the Board of Trustees since it was founded in 2007. While on the board, she served as chairperson of the Scholarship Committee and spearheaded the College’s scholarship fund for high school students. Irene was a long-time culinary instructor who gained extensive teaching experience at various culinary schools and colleges, primarily in the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York areas. Among other notable roles, she was president of the Culinary Society of Philadelphia and Les Dames d’Escoffier as well as the proprietor of Irene’s Charcuterie, a French-style food shop and catering company in Ardmore, PA. Irene previously hosted a radio program about cooking and dining on WCAU (CBS) and worked as a spokesperson for several major companies. She has written cookbooks, done food reviews for Foodline, and contributed two columns for PhillyFeast. As the new board chair at Walnut Hill College, Irene will no doubt bring to her position a true sense of leadership and an understanding of higher education and hospitality.


In addition to Ms. Rothschild’s election, Walnut Hill College honored fellow board member Della Clark with its Meritorious Service Award at the College’s commencement ceremony on March 14. As President of the Enterprise Center, Della Clark leads an award-winning business accelerator that provides minority entrepreneurs with professional skills, resources, and opportunities to generate and sustain business in the Greater Philadelphia region. Since 1992, she has cultivated relationships with key corporate and industry leaders from the wider business world, representatives from educational institutions, and high-ranking government officials at the city, state, and federal levels. Della Clark has received numerous awards for her work in the community, including the Meritorious Service Award, which Walnut Hill College reserves especially for members of its organization who exemplify a commitment to civic responsibility.


Ms. Rothschild and Ms. Clark are just two of the many women making contributions to the Walnut Hill College community. In a predominantly male industry, the enrollment and visibility of women continue to increase at the College, where currently 50% of the board members and nearly 60% of the students are women. Among those advancing the College’s efforts is Chef Marie Stecher, Walnut Hill College alumna turned chef instructor. When asked about her experience as a woman in the industry, Chef Stecher remarked, “I was lucky in my early career to work under three talented women chefs who helped me shape my career: Pastry Chef Susan Fritz (from Restaurant Passerelle), Pastry Chef Marylyn Cooper (from Sweet Daddy’s Bakery), and Chef/Owner Susanna Foo. Each, in different ways, taught me hard work, creativity, [the importance of] respecting everyone in your kitchen, and [the notion that] kindness goes a long way. Now, as a pastry chef and chef instructor, I try to pass those lessons learned to future women.” And she isn’t alone. On April 14, Walnut Hill College board member and chef instructor Christina Pirello of the show Christina Cooks will be a guest speaker at “Her Story,” the 2nd annual event by BEN FM that honors inspirational women. Hosted by Kathy Romano at the Arts Ballroom, “Her Story’s” special guest will be celebrity chef Rachel Ray.