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Cooking with Pride

In an empowering Q+A with Executive Chef of The Climate Collective, Molly DeMers, DeMers talks stepping into her groundbreaking new role as the first female (and openly LGBTQ+ female) executive chef to open a major professional sports arena.

By: Hannah Taheri

In addition to being on track to become the world’s first carbon zero certified arena, Climate Pledge Arena is making history once again—before its doors have even opened. In April, the venue announced it would be the first major professional sports arena opening with a female executive chef leading The Climate Collective—the arena’s food and beverage program.  

A proud member of the LGBTQ+ community with over 20 years of experience working in a fast-paced field dominated by men, Molly DeMers is no stranger to blazing a trail. Over the years, she’s learned a thing or two about tackling obstacles society throws her way. We sat down with Chef “Mollyd” to talk about her history-making role and what guests can expect from The Climate Collective when the tables are set this October. 

What does it mean to you to not only be the first female executive chef to open a major professional sports arena, but also the first openly LGBTQ+ woman in this position? 

To me, it means I have a responsibility to talk about it so other people know times are changing. It means responsibility to open the door even wider to make more room for everyone’s voices to be heard. The world is changing in the right direction, and we will no longer accept anything less than an all-inclusive workforce.  

When you have a leadership team that reflects the community you live in, it humanizes the project. It allows it to become more successful and scale larger possibilities through more lenses.   

What advice do you have for other women in your field who are aspiring to be in a position of your caliber? 

Don’t listen to the static—the noise you hear from not only the doubters, but also from yourself. I have definitely felt the need to tone down my voice and ideas in the past to make people around me feel more comfortable, to make me feel less judged, or even to be smaller. Erase that feeling. 

Stay genuine to the purpose and the goal because changing the world never happens by being small. You will be questioned on why you are doing something, but someday they will ask how you did it. If you can work through the uncomfortable phases of self-doubt or negative representations of other people’s views, then what I found was pure beauty on the other side of fear. 

How important is it to you to be a trailblazer for developing a sustainable food and beverage program on such a large scale? 

It would be irresponsible of me not to acknowledge how hard so many people are working in all industries to bring sustainability to the forefront. There is a shift happening. I am humbled and understand the gravity of this project. So, to answer your question–it means everything.  

We are doing something that may seem unachievable to some people right now. We are challenging the norm and making it the industry standard moving forward. It’s really historic and you feel that when interacting with the Climate Pledge Arena team. 

How do you plan to bring your signature “Mollyd” flare to The Climate Collective’s menu? 

Organically. It happens when people are passionate about what they’re doing. I’m truly stoked to bring my 20 years of experience into this arena.  

I love Seattle. Our food scene is really a playground. I want to strip people’s perception of arena food while respecting the tradition of coming to an event and recognizing the things we love to eat on a stage like this. It’s a delicate balance and I think what we are doing here represents that mindfulness. 

If you could go back in time to when you were first starting in your career, what would you tell yourself? 

Changing the world is possible. Making a difference is possible. The path to “success” isn’t as clear a path as society has romanticized it to be. Failure does happen. Things don’t always work out the way we originally thought, and that’s good. That’s part of the process. 

What can guests look forward to getting from The Climate Collective that they can’t get at any other venue? 

We are putting together an experience stemmed from genuinely good and nourishing food. We are all in when it comes to our guests and their time with us. From the ingredients we are sourcing to the technology The Climate Collective is introducing…I really think it’s mind blowing in the best way possible. 

Learn more about Chef “Mollyd” and The Climate Collective here.

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