We have invited these exceptional women to become Dames and help us all work towards achieving our mission of educational outreach, philanthropic giving and service to our communities. We hope the time will come very soon when we can all gather in person and welcome them into our family of Dames.
Cheryl Bell, Executive Chef, Miriam's Kitchen (Non-Profit). Cheryl was an executive administrative professional serving C-Suite executives for over 30 years. She entered the culinary field cooking as a chef’s assistant volunteer at L’Academie de Cuisine from 2013 until it closed in 2016. Clearly cooking suited her because she switched career in 2015, at age 47, to become the executive sous chef of Miriam’s Kitchen. She was recommended by her predecessor to be promoted to executive chef in January 2017. Miriam’s Kitchen and Cheryl Bell were recently featured in The Washington Post.
Erin Clarke, Executive Chef, Sfoglina Restaurant. For nearly 20, Erin has worked as a line cook and a chef in restaurant kitchens. Her passion exists in hospitality. She is actively working towards opening her own restaurant in the near future. Her long-term goal is to teach future chefs and employees in the hospitality industry.
Rebecca Clerget, Director of Operations, Pastry Chef/Dog Tag Bakery (Non-Profit). Rebecca has spent the last 20 years in our industry as a pastry chef. She focused in fine dining, working at Relais Chateaux properties in the US and abroad. She had the incredible opportunity to help open Dog Tag Bakery in 2014 as the chef and stepped into a leadership role three years ago as its Director of Operations. She says that Dog Tag gives her the unique opportunity to share her industry experience with veterans, spouses and caregivers who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
Michelle Douglas, Attorney, Kalbian Hagerty LLP. Michele is an attorney with a legal practice increasingly focused on the hospitality industry, as well as being an enthusiastic "foodie." In 2000 she began working in general commercial litigation, representing strip malls and handling restaurant landlord-tenant disputes. After moving to Washington D.C., Michele joined Kalbian Hagerty and in 2013 began handling litigation matters for colleague Mark Sandground, who specializes in representing chefs in partnership and financing agreements and all matters related to restaurant operation and management. She is involved in any dispute that may lead to litigation, including everything from disputes over build-outs, partnership breakups, allegations of sexual harassment, landlord-tenant disputes, ADA compliance, and employment issues. Representative clients include Paolo Sacco, MacMillan Whisky Room, Georgetown Cupcakes, American Tandoor, Rappahannock Oyster Co. and Robert Wiedmaier.
Lani Furbank, Freelance Food Writer. Lani is a freelance writer who loves stories that meet at the intersection of food, farming, and the environment. She was born and raised in Northern Virginia, but stays true to her Welsh-Taiwanese heritage by exploring new places and experimenting with recipes from around the world. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, CNN, BuzzFeed, Eater, Plate Magazine, Tasting Table, Thrillist, Time Out, Edible, the Washington City Paper, Roads and Kingdoms, Great Day Washington, Good Day DC, Good Morning Washington, Full Service Radio, District Fray Magazine (formerly On Tap Magazine), Northern Virginia Magazine, DC Refined, Food Tank, and the New York City Food Policy Center. Her website is here.
Kathy Hollinger, President and CEO, Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Kathy is President and CEO of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). Since 2012 her visionary leadership has led RAMW -- which represents over a thousand restaurants and the food service industry in one of our nation’s largest and most visible regions -- through its most dramatic period of sustained growth and innovation, with overall operating budget and new revenue growth of 30%. She also raised the profile of the association and industry across the region and country, resulting in an epic year of national accolades that included Bon Appetit Magazine’s 2016 Restaurant City of the Year and ZAGAT’s Hottest Food City of 2016.
Aba Kwawu, Founder, TAA PR. Aba is the founder and president of TAA PR, a results-oriented public relations, marketing, and special events agency dedicated to the fashion, design, entertainment, hospitality, and luxury lifestyle sectors. At TAA PR, she advises and serves brands seeking expertise in media relations, event production, experiential marketing, and social media. The agency’s regional, national, and international clients span various industries and have included Cirque du Soleil; The Ritz-Carlton; Ladurée; Kering, the global luxury group; chefs Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud; Shake Shack; Tysons Galleria, an upscale shopping destination; CityCenterDC, a mixed-use development; hospitality for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; the Smithsonian Institution; Mercedes-Benz; Paraiso Miami Beach, formerly known as Swim Week Miami, among others.
Catherine Mendolsohn, Chief Operating Officer, Sunnyside Restaurant Group. Catherine has 35 years of excellence in foodservice operations and business management. She grew up in the hospitality business, at age 22 owned a fine-dining French restaurant and has since owned and operated restaurants ranging from fine dining to quick casual. In 2008, she co-founded the Sunnyside Restaurant Group which encompasses six brands. She helped increase sales year over year by introducing new menu items, constantly refreshing restaurants, staying current, and understanding the marketplace.
Cindy Selby, Regional Sales Manager, Executive Chef, RATIONAL Cooking Systems. Cindy was a pastry chef for 28 years and owned a bakery. In her role at RATIONAL she helps others become successful. She works with local high schools to promote Skills USA, helping to coach, train and judge. She set up a non-profit that sells baked goods locally to raise money for scholorships, tools and equipment for the students who want to move forward. She volunteers time and products to raise money for No Kid Hungry.
Jessica van Dop DeJesus, Founder & Editor, The Dining Traveler. Jessica is a food and travel content creator and founder of The Dining Traveler. She began traveling over 20 years ago as a young Marine and has visited over 50 countries. She has published stories on the Travel Channel, Modern Luxury, USA Today, and is the author of the book, The Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico. Her website is here.
Mary Dawn Wright, Corporate Executive Chef, Sabra Foods. Mary Dawn has a degree in anthropology, became a certified pastry chef and then decided to become a chef. She attended the Hotel Sofitel School of French Culinary Skills where she received the same culinary degree students in France receive, the “Certificate Apptitude Professionale” from the French Ministry of Education. She has worked in several world-class restaurants, had her own restaurant and pasta company and eventually found a career as a research chef.
Juste Zidelyte, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Maple Ave Restaurant. Juste is a self-taught, professional chef. She rose from an unpaid intern with NO professional experience to sous chef to chef and restaurant owner in less than three years. She is the current co-owner and operator of Maple Ave Restaurant.
Stephanie Zarpas, TV Broadcast Producer (retired). Stephanie’s career was in television broadcasting. Her work intersected with the culinary world during the years from 2002 to 2006 when she was the broadcast producer for the CBS’s The Saturday Early Show. She supervised production of regular weekly segments that showcased many of the nation’s finest chef’s creating a three-course meal on a specified budget. She was responsible for supervising the segments as they aired, but also for copy-editing the recipes and other information on our website. Since her retirement, she has been a recipe tester for Cook’s Illustrated, Food52, and The Washington Post. She has also “done a bit of food writing.” She has been a James Beard Foundation Awards judge for the past two years.
The James Beard Foundation Awards nominee list is in and three of our beloved DC Dames are on it!
Amy Brandwein is a nominee for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.This is her fourth year to be nominated! Amy’s two restaurants Centrolina and Market and Piccolina are consistently lauded by critics and their take-out during the pandemic were also featured in The Washington Post’s April 3 edition.
Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking (Clarkson Potter) was nominated for the American category for “Books with recipes focused on the cooking or foodways of regions or communities in the United States.”
Pati Jinich’s Pati’s Mexican Table – A Local’s Tour of Culiacán has grabbed a nomination for Television Program, in Studio or Fixed Location. Pati’s show is distributed by American Public Television.
Pati Jinich is one of four Dames gracing the cover of the LDEI Quarterly for a feature Camera! Action! Cook! Dames with TV Cooking Shows.
Johanna Mendelson Forman and Evan Kaplan have launched a curated blog on the Social Gastronomy Movement website to share stories about how food is being used for social impact during these times of crisis. Johanna and Evan will conduct interviews and curate articles that are of interest to the Social Gastronomy Movement network. If you have a story to share, please contact Johanna at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for the newsletter.
Paula Shoyer prepared Passover matzo balls April 9 on WJLA's Good Morning Washington and Ratatouille Brisket for Passover on WUSA9's Great Day Washington on April 6.
Susan Barocas wrote A Passover like no other: Embrace a more intimate celebration of the Jewish holiday for The Washington Post.
Erinn Tucker was interviewed by @CGTVNetwork @CGTNAmerica about the Economic Impact of Coronavirus on the Live Events Industry, tourism, and hospitality industry.
Here is a list of Dames and their restaurants and shops that are continuing to serve our communities and keep our industry alive. Please avail yourself of their services and encourage your friends to do the same.
Stacey Adams' Tastings Gourmet Market in Annapolis has added many more staples and much-needed items to her product line so her customers do not have to go to crowded grocery stores. Her staff's sanitizing procedures and graciousness in handling business was noticed by a MD government tourism division employee. She told the staff that during the pandemic, she is promoting and noting local businesses on her bulletin board. She took a pix of the store and staff and said she would be back to shop. For more info, click here.
Amy Brandwein's Centrolina and Piccolina are closed for dining but both restaurants are offering takeout and delivery. Amy's Centrolina market remains open offering her full line of fresh produce, meats and fish as well as staples and wine. All grocery items can be delivered as well. For more information, click here.
Ruth Gresser's Pizza Paradiso restaurants' dine-in services have closed but all her locations, save Old Town Alexandria, remain open for online orders and delivery. Click here for more information.
Ris Lacoste's eponymous restaurant RIS is closed until further notice but began takeout and delivery service today. For more information, click here.
Michelene Mendelsohn and her family's Sunnyside Restaurant Group, which includes We The Pizza, Santa Rosa Taqueria and Good Stuff Eatery, are open for delivery and takeout. As a special service, it is generously offering Kids Eat Free during the COVID-19 pandemic at all of its restaurants.
For more information, click here
Suzanne Simon's and Bettina Stern's Chaia Tacos are closed but continue to offer takeout. Innovatively, they have created a Chaia Enchilada Supper Club with a changing lineup of tacos offerings each day to order on Mondays and Wednesdays for pickup on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. at their Georgetown and Chinatown locations.
Janet Yu's Hollywood East restaurant is closed but continues to offer takeout and delivery services. www.HollywoodEast.com
These Dames are using their talents and connections to help during this crisis.
Mary Beth Albright's Secret Table video series for The Washington Post featured "Top food items to stock up on in case you are quarantined" on March 6. Click here to watch the video.
Jill Collins represents Hook Hall, the event space in ParkView on Georgia Avenue NW that has announced the launch of Hook Hall Helps, a program to assist hospitality industry workers. In partnership with The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, FoodPro and Sysco, Hook Hall employees and volunteers are assembling care kits for pick up at Hook Hall. The kits include shelf-stable foods and paper goods and are distributed from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. daily through the duration of the COVID19 pandemic, as long as supplies last. Also, Industry Family Meals are provided from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. daily as well. The meals are being donated by area restaurants as well as being prepared by volunteer chefs who are creating hot meals from donated produce and perishables. Dozens of restaurants and suppliers have donated food and product. Occasions Caterers has donated trucks to handle delivery and pick up. For details click here.
Nancy Hart Trice and her husband, Chef Jerry Trice, prepare to celebrate the four-year anniversary of their restaurant, Gunther & Co., in May. In the meantime, they are reveling in the fact that the restaurant, once again, is included in Baltimore Magazines top 50 restaurants and reader poll for Best Alfresco Dinning. To read more, click here.
Amy Brandwein, Chef-owner of Centrolina, is a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic.
Ruth Gresser, chef-owner of Pizzeria Paradiso, is a semifinalist for the Outstanding Restaurateur award from the James Beard Foundation.
Polly Weidmaier's and husband Chef Robert Weidmaier's Marcel's restaurant is a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Hospitality award.
Patty Collette of PattyCakes, Inc. was named among the "Most Recommended" wedding cake bakers in Washingtonian Weddings magazine for the 25th consecutive year.
Toni Tipton-Martin , Pati Jinich, Kristen Hartke and Mary Beth Albright all are IACP 2020 Cuisinart Awards finalists. Mary Beth Albright: Corporate Online Video Series, Secret Table. Kristen Hartke: Narrative Beverage Writing With or Without Recipes, Now, There is Zero Proof That Alcohol Makes a Great Cocktail, NPR The Salt. Pati Jinich: Individual Online Video Series, #MustEat and Culinary Television Series, Pati's Mexican Table. Toni Tipton-Martin: Cookbook Awards, Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking . The winners will be announced March 28 at the IACP annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA.
Pati Jinich interviewed The Washington Post Food Editor Joe Yonan at the Connecticut Avenue Politics and Prose on Tuesday, February 4 about his newest book, Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World's Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein. In his book's acknowledgements, he thanks Kristen Hartke for her "expert recipe testing, invaluable insight and good-natured outlook."
Johanna Mendelson Forman will lecture at Tshingua University in Beijing to the Schwarzman Fellows in February on Culinary Diplomacy and Social Gastronomy. Then she will join Venezuelan chef and Chopped winner Adriana Urbina who is now based in New York on a State Department visit to Peru to promote women entrepreneurs in the food space in Peru.
Amy Riolo just released her first, private label EVOO- a blend from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Trappeto di Caprafico, the award-winning estate where the oil is made, is one of the most popular stops on her Heart of Italy and Grape and Truffle Cuisine and Culture tours.
Les Dames d'Escoffier DC
LDEI is the premier organization of influential professional women who are committed to the advancement of education and philanthropy in food, beverage and hospitality for the good of the global community.