Top Women in Metro New York Foodservice & Hospitality 2016
As we celebrate 25 years of publishing TOTAL FOOD SERVICE (TFS) this year, we have noticed a number of major changes and trends in the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry in Metro New York.
At the very top of that list of trends is the impact that women have had on the Tri-State foodservice scene. They have risen to amazing heights and turned the Greater NYC marketplace into the epicenter of the world’s restaurant and food service industry.
These top women are incredible: making their marks on everything from a Manhattan hospital serving 5,000 plus patient meals every day to an iconic food writer in a major NYC newspaper to a Westchester executive recruiter who wheels and deals on behalf of top investment firms to find CEO’s to run some of the world’s largest restaurant chains.
We owe special thanks to a number of colleagues that represent many segments of the Tri-State foodservice community. They were gracious with their time to help us build this list of the “best and the brightest” top women in our industry. We selected categories based on that input.
Our goal for the criteria of this list was to identify innovators within each of those major disciplines of the foodservice and hospitality industry. Women are having a major impact on the bricks and mortar design of restaurants, and the sales of equipment supplies and service. They also have major impact on what food and beverage is being served on local menus, and the management and marketing of foodservice facilities.
Our goal is to share some of the amazing stories of these top women and to make all of us realize that any goal is accomplishable with a measure of hard work and some good luck sprinkled in.
Publisher, Total Food Service
Top Women in Metro New York Foodservice & Hospitality 2016
Marika Vida Arnold
Ritz Carlton Central Park
Green Goddess Public Relations
Carrie Bachman Public Relations
Mohegan Sun Casino
Bullfrog & Baum
Prova/Kefi, New York, NY
How would you feel having to judge whether Bobby Flay or Gordon Ramsey’s foi gras is better? That’s exactly Donatella Arpaia’s role on The Food Network’s Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef. She’s also a contributor to the Today Show. Once a corporate attorney, Donatella opened her first restaurant, Bellini in 1998. Her other restaurants include davidburke & donatella, which has received four stars from Forbes and the Five Diamond Award, Anthos, a Michelin Star Greek restaurant which was named Best New Restaurant by New York and Esquire in November 2007, and Mia Dona which opened in February 2008. In 2007, she and chef Michael Psilakis opened restaurant Kefi in the Upper West Side of New York City. In mid-2009, Donatella and Psilakis opened Eos in Miami’s Viceroy Hotel, her first restaurant opened outside of New York. She also has time for a personal life, too. In 2011 she married cardiac surgeon Allan Stewart, and in that same year, had her son.
AJC Design, New York, NY
Alicia Cannon, founder and principal of New York-based AJC Design, has a unique background that shapes every single one of her intriguing projects. Named one of Hospitality Design magazine’s 2015 Wave of the Future honorees, Cannon is known for a signature approach that balances dramatic, pop-inspired pieces with tailored, classic styles. This stems from working with luxury brands and collaborating with urban artists alike. Injecting each project with professionalism and an inventive edge, her top priority is delivering a product that captures—and extends—each client’s vision. That’s why the WBE (Woman Business Enterprise)-certified designer spends time getting to know every single one of them personally, and embarks on a true partnership to meld functionality and intricate aesthetic details.
Recent AJC Design work runs the gamut from the Westport Inn, in Connecticut, to the Hotel Indigo, in Brooklyn, but Cannon’s affinity for timeless design began shortly after graduating from the Pratt Institute of Art. Named a recent Stevie Award Bronze winner (in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year—Business Products—10 or Less Employees category), Cannon’s wide-ranging design résumé spans full-service and luxury hotels, intimate residences and sweeping corporate interiors.
Wines Of Chile USA
The Meat Hook
The Spotted Pig
Global Amenity Services
Dirt Candy, New York, NY
Dirt Candy may not initially sound like the kind of place you’d want to eat, but one visit sows the seed for many return visits. Amanda Cohen is the chef and owner of Dirt Candy, an award-winning vegetable restaurant on New York City’s Lower East Side. The restaurant’s original location only had 18 seats and was open for six years, during which time it became the first vegetarian restaurant in 17 years to receive two stars from the New York Times, was recognized by the Michelin Guide five years in a row, and won awards from Gourmet Magazine, the Village Voice, and many others. Amanda was the first vegetarian chef to compete on Iron Chef America and her comic book cookbook, Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, is the first graphic novel cookbook to be published in North America. Currently in its fourth printing, the cookbook celebrates everything Amanda loves about vegetables.
Wine for the World
Win Depot • Long Island City, NY
RC Fine Foods
Casa DiLisio, Mt. Kisco, NY
As VP Operations of Casa DiLisio, Linda has been in the industry for over 30 years. During that time she has helped her parents, Lou and Lucy DiLisio market and build Casa DiLiso’s business to where it is today. She is responsible for the daily running of their plant and representing the company at the numerous trade shows that Casa DiLisio participates in every year. The company’s brand of sauces fits all of the criteria for Food Service and sells their products to everyone from the Cruise Lines to Chain accounts to White Table Cloth establishments and every kind of operation in between.
The Elliot Group, Tarrytown, NY
Alice Elliot once said she really does “drink the Kool Aid” of changing people’s careers – or, more specifically, their lives.
Pegged in 2014 as one of the 50 most powerful people in the foodservice industry, Elliot is founder and CEO of Executive Search firm The Elliot Group, which finds, simply, the best talent in the foodservice world.
In the constantly evolving foodservice world, that’s the one constant, and specializing in “human capital,” as she likes to put it, she brings her company’s executive search, human resources and leadership abilities to the job of matching phenomenal people with phenomenal jobs in the industry.
Throughout her career Alice has been sought out for her insight and advice on trends in the industry and human capital issues. And for more than 25 years, her firm hosted one of the industry’s most sought-after invitation-only events: the Elliot Leadership Conference.
Faith Hope Consolo
Black Seed Bagels
Jersey City Public Schools
Mission Chinese Food NY
NYSRA, Albany, NY
Melissa has brought her love and expertise of both the foodservice world and government affairs together to serve as president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA).
“It was serendipity,” she says. “I ended up getting an internship in the government affairs department of the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Through my job I got to meet Rick Sampson from the NYSRA, and after my first child was born, I was asked if I’d consider returning to New York. I was invited to apply for a regional rep position, and became the Northeast regional rep for the association. The timing seemed right for me. I’d spent my 20s in Washington, DC, and it was a good time for my family and me to move home.”
Melissa is so valuable to the association because she brings her wealth of knowledge about how government works and the ways in which it can help the foodservice industry, a combination that benefits both.
Randi Shubin Dresner
Island Harvest Food BankMineola, NY • Charity
Institute Of Culinary Education
Ariane Kitchen Bar
The New York Times
Zagat / Google
Kerekes / Bake Deco
Citibank, New York, NY
Food and finance don’t often go together but for Amy Greenberg, it’s a perfect fit.
A senior vice president in global corporate services operations at Citi, Amy has served as a leader with over 25 years corporate services experience managing dining operations, fitness, and wellness organizations, all while strategically aligning her services with Citi’s core business.
But this is not all she does. She’s a recognized leader who has served as president of the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management (SHFM) Harvard University Dining Advisory Board, and Culinary Institute of America Society of Fellows.
“Amy is a dedicated professional who you could always be assured would complete an assignment in a way that would exceeded your expectations,” says Leo Farley, CFO at Envision EMI. “Regardless of the assignment, she is willing to give it her all.”
Food Network, New York, NY
You’ve probably seen her on Chopped, and winced at some of her judgments of contestants’ dishes. Most of the time, Alex Guarnaschelli tries to cut her criticism with kindness. But she’s tough and demanding; because that’s how she’s lived her own life.
She’s also an executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurant and was executive chef at the award-winning The Darby restaurant before its closing.
It’s not just Chopped she appears on, but Food Network’s Iron Chef America, All Star Family Cook-off, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate. She hosts Alex’s Day Off and The Cooking Loft on Food Network and Cooking Channel. In 2012, she was crowned America’s Next Iron Chef on Iron Chef America, currently the only woman who has made that win, and only the second female ever to obtain that TV honor. In 2013, Guarnaschelli’s first cookbook was published. Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook. Read more about Alex.
Olivier Cheng Catering & Events
RC Fine Foods
Stephanie Goto Design
CT Restaurant Association
Key PRNew York, NY • Public Relations
Party Rental Ltd.
Women’s Foodservice Forum
NJRHA, Trenton, NJ
Marilou Halvorsen’s first job was at Radio City Music Hall as the assistant to the Vice President of Events. From there she went to work for a special events company traveling all over doing events and marketing those events all over the country.
Halvorsen took an interesting route to the leadership position of the NJRHA. She was executive director of the New Jersey Amusement Association and Jenkinson’s, which included a whole slew of recreational activities around a boardwalk, including a hotel, ice cream shoppe, nightclub and zoo aquarium.
“An association is just like a business,” she says. “My members are my customers. I have to make sure that their experience with the restaurant association is a good one. Whether it’s for member benefit, networking, and legislative initiatives. You know we need to make sure that they’re maximizing the value of their membership with the New Jersey Restaurant Association. Because without members you’re not an association.”
Advance Tabco • Edgewood, NY
Delaware And Jackson
Kellogg & Caviar
Italian Trade Commission
Ecolab, Shrewsbury, NJ
Named as one of the 20 most influential people in foodservice by FoodService Director in 2012, Barbara was also the first business partner to be appointed president of the Society for Food Service Management (SHFM), the leading national association serving the needs and interests of executives in the corporate foodservice and workplace hospitality industries. As Vice President of Industry Relations, at Ecolab, she has been the chair of the Industry Advisory Board of the Association for Healthcare Foodservice and active in the American Dietetic Association, the Women’s Foodservice Forum, the International Food Manufacturers Association, the National Association of College and University Food Services, the National Restaurant Association. Patty Oliver, director of nutrition services for UCLA Medical Center. “She brings so many ideas and suggestions with her because of the array of experience and responsibilities she’s had with other associations,” noted Patty. “She is a hard worker and she has a wonderful head for business. She has taught me a lot; I consider her to be a mentor as well as a friend.” When does she have time to sleep? Maybe that’s not so important when you’re changing and improving the foodservice world.
Gloria La Grassa
Les Dames D’ Escoffier
Hanna Lee Communications
Food Bank For Westchester
Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Annisa, New York, NY
Praise, honor and disaster have all visited Anita Lo, chef and owner of Annisa in New York City, but she is back on top today.
She earned a degree in French language at Columbia University; she studied at Reid Hall—Columbia’s French language institute in Paris. And it was there she fell in love with the food culture and vowed to return.
Lo interned under Guy Savoy and Michel Rostang. Back in New York, Lo worked her way through all the stations at David Waltuck’s Chanterelle, developing her culinary style during her time at Mirezi.
In 2000, Lo opened Annisa (whose name means “women’’ in Arabic), an intimate, upscale restaurant in Greenwich Village serving Contemporary American cuisine, an instant hit. But in June 2009, a fire destroyed the restaurant entirely. But in April 2010, after a complete renovation of the original Barrow Street location, Lo reopened Annisa.
In February 2014, critic Pete Wells re-reviewed Annisa in The New York Times, giving the restaurant three stars, calling her food “remarkable” and “impressive.”
New York State Schools
North End Grill
Table To Table, Englewood, NJ
A “golden handshake” from IBM propelled Claire Poulos into a desire to make the world a better place. “So I went to cooking school. I went to the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And trained as a chef.” Claire admits she hadn’t planned on working as a chef. “I was just always interested in food. I come from a big food family!” she says. “I thought, I’ll just take a year off. Go do something that I want to do. And then I’ll figure out what else I’m doing with my career. So, after I got out of cooking school, I did some work with the James Beard House because they were associated with the school.” Here’s where the making the world a better place comes in. Claire established a new service, Table to Table, which helps 60 food relief agencies in northeast New Jersey. What makes it really outstanding is that it gets no government funding and is completely supported by corporate and private donors. Soon she had buy-in from Whole Foods, Alpine Country Club, Arthur’s Landing in Weehawken. The program exploded, with people wanting to give her food. Last year, Table to Table served twelve million meals. Looks like she’s definitely made the world a better place.
Aredesia Wine Bar
Green & Tonic
Le Pain Quotiden
Fourth Wall Restaurant
Giovanni Rana Pastificio
Cucharamama / Zafra, Hoboken, NJ
Owner of Zafra and Cucharamama Restaurants in Hoboken NJ, Maricel Presilla got into the restaurant business, at, where else? A restaurant.
It was a chance meeting at a restaurant in Manhattan called The Ballroom that was owned by a very famous chef at the time, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi. “He had been an assistant of the great James Beard at his cooking school and was very well connected,” she says. “He had opened the first tapas bar in the US with a cabaret where many great singers performed.”
“I was at NYU getting my doctorate in Medieval Spanish history but I liked to cook for a lot of people so I had been asked to coordinate the food events of Catalan Week at school,” she recalls.
It was during this weeklong event that she met Montse and ended up meeting Felipe. “The day I first visited The Ballroom, Felipe said, ‘If you would like some training you can come here on your free day at the university.’ That was Wednesday. So I did that and The Ballroom became my first professional kitchen.”
She also met some of the movers and shakers of the industry – “which led to everything else in my life – everything good happened in that kitchen.”
EBP Supply Solutions
Russ & Daughters
New Jersey Monthly Magazine
Citymeals-on-Wheels, New York, NY
Beth Shapiro has been Executive Director of Citymeals-on-Wheels since September 2011. In this time, the numbers of homebound elderly nourished and meals served throughout all five boroughs have both increased by ten percent. Under her leadership, the organization has seen a 52% percent increase in volunteer participation and launched several new initiatives, including Chefs Deliver which takes some of the city’s best chefs out of their kitchens to deliver specially prepared meals to their frail aged neighbors. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Shapiro worked as a marketing and advertising executive prior to joining Citymeals. Read more about Beth.
David Chang Restaurants
Allied Metal Spinning
NYC College Of Technology
Sarah Ashley Schiear
New Haven Schools
Mimi Sheraton Inc
Roberta’s And Blanca
Urban Expositions, Shelton, CT
A creative and dedicated professional with over 20 years experience in the trade show industry, Andrea Tencza has been actively involved in all aspects of event management with an emphasis on business-to-business marketing strategy and execution, conference development and the conceptualization and execution of special events.
Using that experience now as director of marketing & conference at Urban Expositions, Andrea leads the marketing and conference team for the restaurant and foodservice events in the Connecticut office of the company. She develops marketing strategy and execution, along with content development, for the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York, as well as the firm’s portfolio of shows across the country.
The Loan Resource
Roman And Williams
Elmwood Country Club
Peter Luger Steakhouse
Milk Bar, New York, NY
When you start out as the recipient of the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year award and the 2015 James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award, where do you go from there?
Christina Tosi can tell you. She’s the chef, owner and founder of Milk Bar, called “one of the most exciting bakeries in the country” by Bon Appétit Magazine. She’s also an author and a television personality.
As founder of the dessert program at Momofuku, Christina got her start helping Momofuku Ko earn two stars from the Michelin Guide and Momofuku Ssäm jump onto restaurant magazine’s top 100 restaurants in the world list.
She’s a judge on Fox’s MasterChef and MasterChef Junior and serves on the board of directors for Hot Bread Kitchen and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. And she’s a “scary but nice” judge, as she was recently introduced on a talk show. Read more about Christina.
Martha Alice Teichner
Barcelona Wine Bar
Whitson Culinary Group
Little M Tucker, Paterson, NJ
It would seem that Morgan Tucker had no choice. Growing up in a family which built the largest foodservice distribution business on the East Coast, M. Tucker, it’s not likely that law or medicine would have held her interest for long. Instead, she decided to carry the company – founded by her father and grandfather – into the third generation, establishing herself and her imprint, Little M Tucker, which provides specialized equipment and restaurant supplies to a growing hub of high-end restaurants in Manhattan. She’s also an expert on tabletop trends. After graduating with honors from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in 2007, Morgan worked for New York’s Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and Steve Hanson’s BR Guest Restaurant Group, before beginning her journey at M. Tucker. After seven years in her family business, Morgan currently oversees a highly successful distribution sales team in the company, passionately serving Manhattan’s hottest operations under the Little M Tucker brand. “I grew up in love with hospitality, but I had no intention of doing what my father did, being a CEO of a company and sitting behind a desk from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I idolized Steve Hanson and that was what I wanted to be when I was a teenager,” she says. The rest, as she says, is history. Read more from Morgan.
Cook For Kids
Activecare Physical Therapists
Unidine Corp, Boston, MA
In 2013 Unidine Corp. named Victoria Vega, Division Vice President for business services, where she now leads the company’s Corporate & Education Culinary Groups. Victoria refined her sales abilities as director of business development at CulinArt. She also spent over a dozen years with Restaurant Associates as the Vice President of Operations for Corporate and Educational Dining with a client list including prominent financial companies, media organizations, key industry leaders and retail giants. Her career began with Aramark business services.
An active member of SHFM, Victoria currently serves on the association’s board of directors. She received the Richard Ysmael Distinguished Service Award in 2014 for her service to the workplace hospitality industry.
Victoria has also volunteered for committee roles with SHFM’s annual Critical Issues Conference, chairing the 2013 event and served as an advisor to the 35th Annual National Conference Planning Committee.
Semilla, New York, NY
After working for years in kitchens (Roberta’s, Tailor, Room 4 Dessert ) Pam Yung, and boyfriend Chef José Ramírez-Ruiz finally decided to do their own thing.
When their BYOB popup Chez José opened, it served mostly veggie prix fixe dinners, but was beloved by local diners and many reviewers. They quickly outgrew the space, that only seated 4-8 diners. After a local seafood haunt closed, its owner Joe Carroll suggested José and Pam use the Havemeyer St. spot for Chez José dinners. That success lead to the opening of Semilla.
Yung went on to win the Jean Louie Palladin scholarship, which essentially puts people from the industry in contact with food producers. With ‘farm to table” hotter than ever, Yung was able to mill whole grains at Semilla.
That very same vision had led to some of the most talked about offerings that included: vanilla ice cream topped with bergamot granit, avory; fermented oatmeal with a melted scoop of brown butter ice cream; and hot sourdough bread, filled with oatmeal.