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Movers and shakers from across the county join us for our first Ladies' Business Lunch, as Jo Haywood reports Photographs by Andy Bulmer
Smoked salmon mousse, sour dough crisp, soft herbs and horseradish
Pressing of Yorkshire chicken, crispy skin, truffle brioche, baby onions, onion jam and honey dressing
Pan-fried sea bass, caramelised cauliflower, cauliflower florets, roasted hazelnuts, samphire and Jerez vinegar
Oven-roasted lamb rump, pomme puree, hot pot vegetables and rosemary jus
Flavours and textures of orange
When Etta Cohen talks, people listen. She started talking to a business colleague over lunch 12 years ago and now talks to hundreds, if not thousands, of women every year as part of her Leeds-based support organisation Forward Ladies.
It started with a lunch for two, then five and now, 12 years later, thousands of woman benefit from our 400 or so events every year, she told a rapt gathering of some of Yorkshires top business women. We have been successful because of women like you; women eager to seek out solutions to the challenges we face in business.
I got divorced and had to sell my house when my children were just two and six. It was the best decision I ever made in my life, but it was also hard. Those tough times gave me a greater understanding of the problems women face every day.
Trying to bring up children while working full-time was just not accepted when I did it 25 years ago, but thankfully we have come an awful long way since then. That doesnt mean, however, that we havent got a long way still to go.
Etta and our guests enjoyed a generously-proportioned tasting menu at the Black Swan Hotel that started with creamy, soft smoked salmon given crunch by a wafer-thin sour dough crisp and bite by a dash of delicious horseradish.
Next came sensationally savoury rounds of pressed chicken balanced perfectly by a syrupy sweet onion jam, followed swiftly by an elegant plate of sea bass, its delicate texture set against the snap and crunch of samphire and hazelnuts.
The talented kitchen brigades fourth savoury offering included two portions of lamb, one roasted, the other slowly braised to spoon-slice softness, which prepared the palate beautifully for something sweet to finish.
This came in the ingenious guise of a selection of orange-based confections. There was sorbet, cake, jelly, foam and granita, but the surprise standout hit the one that brought a veritable concerto of oohs and aahs was a shot of tea. A potent mix of pomegranate, orange, star anise, pepper, chilli, cinnamon and secret bits and bobs the waiting staff could not be bribed to reveal, it was simply stunning.
The meal drew high praise from our food and drink consultant Annie Stirk, who described it as completely fabulous, and from Etta, who said she was keen to use modern business technology to spread the word even if she wasnt quite sure how it worked.
Im a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology, she admitted with a wry smile, greeted by several nods of recognition by the gathered ladies. But even I can see how vital it is to modern business. You dont have to understand it, you just have to appreciate what it can do for you and your business.
I will certainly be tweeting about this lovely lunch weve had today. And you dont get better marketing than that.
Forward Ladies is a business networking organisation for professional women founded in Leeds by Etta Cohen 12 years ago.
It began as a small group of professional women meeting and sharing experiences. Since then, it has become the norths largest womens networking and business support organisation, supporting more than 13,500 women throughout Yorkshire, the Humber, the Isle of Man, Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside.
Forward Ladies runs more than 400 events a year, offering everything from business development workshops and inspirational speakers to networking lunches, webinars, award ceremonies and trade missions.
The network is very inclusive and open to all professional women, from any sector, any age and any stage in their career, said Etta. Events are non-threatening, welcoming and supportive.
We are expanding because we believe that we have a positive contribution to make to support women in business particularly in these challenging economic times. Women want support, business contacts and value for money, and thats what we hope we give them.
To find out more about its work and to check out its forthcoming events, visit forwardladies.com.
The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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