Les Dames d’Escoffier International
Birmingham Chapter Members

Cristina Almanza

Cristina Almanza is the business development coordinator for the Birmingham division of Buffalo Rock.

Brooke Bell

Brooke Bell is the vice president of culinary and custom content at Hoffman Media, where she oversees the editorial teams of Bake from Scratch, Southern Cast Iron, Cook: Real Food Every Day, Taste of the South, Louisiana Cookin’, and Cooking with Paula Deen as well as the test kitchen and all custom content development. She is the author of several cookbooks, including Fall Baking (August 2016) and Cast-Iron Baking (September 2017).

Rita Bernhardt

Rita Bernhardt is the executive chef and partner of Luca restaurant.

Rosalyn Bloomston

Rosalyn Bloomston worked as a caterer for 34 years, but now in retirement, spends her time doing civic work and having fun.

Kristal Bryant

Kristal Bryant is the owner of K & J’s Elegant Pastries.

Sonthe Burge

Sonthe Burge, RDN, is a registered and licensed dietitian nutritionist who has helped scores of women and men achieve their wellness goals. As a nutrition counselor for the past 12 years, Sonthe worked closely with individuals to create positive sustainable life changes. In addition to her counseling practice, Sonthe is an adjunct professor of nutrition and dietetics at Samford University.

Anne Cain

Anne Cain, MPH, MS, RD, is an experienced food editor and award-winning dietitian with over 30 years in health and nutrition communications as a communications director, website content manager, and cookbook editor. She currently works as special projects editor for Meredith Special Interest Media, producing publications for Cooking Light, Weight Watchers, and Food & Wine.

Mary Esther Carpenter

Mary Esther Carpenter grew up in her family’s restaurant, GG in the Park, serving up fresh seafood—the first restaurant in Birmingham with a live lobster tank! After 25 years in sales and management in the foodservice industry, she is enjoying retirement with her family and friends.

Brittany Garrigus Cheatham

Brittany Garrigus Cheatham is a pastry chef at Satterfield’s Restaurant in Cahaba Heights. Growing up she always knew she wanted to work in the kitchen. In high school, Brittany started dual enrollment with Jefferson State’s culinary program during which time she also started working as Diane Olexa’s baking assistant. Since then she has been assistant pastry chef for Frank Stitt, assistant baker at Angel’s Cakes and Confections, and executive pastry chef at The Club.

Charbett Cauthen

Charbett Cauthen is a hospitality consultant for city and private clubs.

Donna Cornelius

Donna Cornelius has more than 35 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines with a focus on food writing. She writes the food section for Tuscaloosa magazine and contributes food and feature articles to various media outlets. She is an adjunct instructor at the University of Alabama in the College of Communication and Information Science’s Department of Journalism and Creative Media.

Stacey Craig

Stacey Craig is the business manager at The Bright Star Restaurant.

Linda Croley

Linda Croley is the owner of Bare Naked Noodles.

Rosemary Dallam

Rosemary Dallam, MS, RDN, has 40 years of experience in culinary arts education and as a dietitian/nutritionist. Her passion is to teach healthy cooking techniques to anyone interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and also for the hungry, underfed, and malnourished in the community. She was named Culinary Educator of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and Outstanding Dietitian of the Year with the Alabama Dietetic Association.

Aimee Domingue-Castro

Aimee Domingue-Castro is the front-of-house manager at Sol Y Luna Tapas and Tequila and a Spanish teacher at i3 Academy.

Alexis Douglas

Alexis Douglas is a certified sommelier from the Guild of Master Sommeliers and owner of Lexlovesvino Consulting. Living and traveling abroad while she was growing up sparked her love of food and wine at an early age. Alexis graduated from Cornell University as the first wine major, and then worked in wine distribution in California for most of her career. Her current passion is to educate people about wine and nutrition.

Raquel Ervin

Raquel Ervin is executive chef and owner of Panoptic Catering established in 2014. Raquel started cooking at a very young age, working in a family restaurant and has many years of corporate restaurant experience. She has been featured in countless magazines, judged culinary competitions, and her recipes have won several awards. Raquel was selected as a finalist and appeared in shows on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. Additionally, Raquel is the president of the Birmingham Chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

Kristen Farmer Hall

Kristen Farmer Hall is the owner and executive pastry chef of The Essential and Bandit Patisserie.

Sidney Fry

Sidney Fry, MS, RD, is a two-time James Beard Award-winning food and nutrition writer and editor. Her current position as digital marketing advisor at Morgan Stanley adds another layer to overall wellness, with an attentive focus on financial health. She also works as a freelance food and nutrition writer and acts as editorial nutrition advisor for MyFitnessPal where she maintains a regular column called “Ask the RD.”

Jan Gautro

Jan Gautro is a freelance prop stylist, who has worked with Oxmoor House, Cooking Light, Southern Living, Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Southeastern Dairy Association, and Hoffman Media publications such as Bake from Scratch, Cook: Real Food Every Day, Taste of the South, Southern Cast Iron, and Louisiana Cookin’.

Lauren Gavin

Lauren Gavin owns and operates her own business catering wedding cakes.

Susan Nash Gilpin

Susan Nash Gilpin chronicles her love of creating memorable food experiences through more than 30 years of experience in food writing, recipe development, media appearances, cookbook production, and food marketing and advertising. Susan has served as foods editor of People and Southern Living magazines and as a contributor to Cooking Light, Entertainment Weekly, and Time Inc. Books.

Sherron Goldstein

Sherron Goldstein is the author of Fresh Fields, A Celebration of Good Food and Fresh Fields, Entertaining with Southern Comfort and co-author of From Generation to Generation. 
She is also owner-director of her own cooking school, Fresh Fields Cooking. Sherron’s teaching encourages home cooks to create good food for their family and friends as they create tastes that endure.

Susan D. Green

Susan D. Green is the owner
of Birmingham Knife Sharpening.

Idie Hastings

Idie Hastings, owner and director of operations of the Hot and Hot Fish Club,
OvenBird Restaurant, and Miss Coco’s One Lucky Dog Treats, which creates non-GMO, dog treats featuring all-natural whole ingredients. The Birmingham Business Journal listed Idie as one of the Top 10 Birmingham Business Women and the UAB College of Arts and Sciences showcased Idie’s contribution to transforming the Birmingham food and beverage scene.

Mary-Frances Heck

Mary-Frances Heck is the Senior Food Editor of Food & Wine, where she oversees recipes for the brand and edits stories about food and cooking. She is the author of Sweet Potatoes and her writing and recipes have appeared in numerous cookbooks and publications including The Wall St. Journal, Eating Well, and Epicurious. She is the former test kitchen director of Bon Appetit and worked in the test kitchens of Lucky Peach and Saveur. Mary-Frances earned her BA in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

Maureen Holt

Maureen Holt is executive chef and general manager of Carlile’s BBQ, Birmingham’s oldest BBQ restaurant. Known for her previous life as the restaurateur of Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar in Forest Park, Maureen is now pursuing the life of a pit master.

LaCrista Hutchinson

LaCrista Hutchinson is a regional manager with US Foods.

Erin Isbell

Erin Isbell is the co-owner of both locations of The Red Cat in Birmingham, AL. Memories of the tiny restaurant her father opened and her family ran when she was a child are the beginning of her food experiences. Erin has been in the coffee/food industry for over a decade.

Telia Johnson

Telia Johnson is the proprietor of Telia Johnson Cakes, a small-batch bakery specializing in traditional southern layer cakes and wedding cakes. Before starting her cake business, Telia worked as a freelance test kitchen professional and a recipe developer for Southern Living and Cooking Light magazines. After 20 years, she added the role of food stylist to her resume.

Martha Johnston

Martha Johnston was vice president of food marketing and director of business development for Southern Living/Southern Progress Corporation. Johnston was also on the start-up team for Cooking Light. She was president of International Association of Culinary Professionals from 2003 to 2004 and is a founding member of Southern Foodways Alliance.

Catherine Sloss Jones

Catherine Sloss Jones is president and CEO of Sloss Real Estate Company, Inc., an urban redevelopment firm founded by her grandfather in 1920. Noteworthy achievements include Pepper Place, a vibrant mixed-use design district in Lakeview, home to The Market at Pepper Place, a nationally recognized farmers’ market with 10,000 weekly visitors, started by Jones in 2000.

Barbara Gaines Kenyon

Barbara Gaines Kenyon is the owner of Happy Event Company; an event design, consulting, and management business. Barbara, who received a master’s degree in event management, launched her career in London, England in 2003 as a special events manager at London’s most highly regarded venues, Warren House. After returning to the States and starting a family, Barbara decided to open Happy Event Co. Her mission and business goals are simple: She believes in excellent standards of service and strives to exceed her clients’ expectations by creating events and moments that bring people happiness.

Andrea Kirkland

Andrea Kirkland, MS, RD, is the owner and founder of Culinary Med. Ed., an online continuing education service that offers culinary courses to health professionals. She provides leadership for the company’s strategic growth and direction, which includes product development and the management of all areas of performance. As an experienced editor, writer, and recipe developer she’s created food-related content for print and online media brands, including Weight WatchersCooking LightDiabetic Living, and eMeals.

Rebecca Lang

Rebecca Lang is the author of six cookbooks and a ninth-generation Southerner. She has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and a journalism degree from the University of Georgia. At the beginning of her career, she lived in Birmingham and worked at Oxmoor House as an assistant food editor and is now a contributing editor at Southern Living.

Pam Lolley

Pam Lolley is a recipe developer and tester at Meredith Food Studios.

Allison Lowery

Allison Lowery is the director of the Meredith Food Studios.

Stefanie Maloney

Stefanie Maloney is the marketing director at Bhate.

Debbie Mar

Debbie Mar is the director of franchise catering sales for Newk’s Corporate. Previously she spent five years as area director for the local Birmingham, Alabama and Meridian, Mississippi Newk’s franchise. Her passion is in leading teams to achieve their goals, developing people, and serving others. She is a steering committee member for Neighborhood Bridges Hoover and also currently sits on the Hoover City Schools Foundation Board and the Hoover Helps board. Debbie is also a competitive equestrian competing her Adult Jumper across the Southeast.

Betsy McAtee

Betsy McAtee is the CEO of Dreamland Holding Company and owner of BUM Foods. Dreamland BBQ, known throughout the Southeast for its legendary ribs and sauce, is served in eight stadium venues throughout the southeast. Dreamland Holding Company operates 10 restaurants in the southeast and ships its products nationwide. Betsy has been recognized as the Small Business Executive of the Year by the Birmingham Business Alliance, Restaurateur of the Year by the Alabama Hospitality and Restaurant Alliance, and named as one of AL.com’s “Women Who Shape the State.”

April McClung

April McClung is the owner and CEO of Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes. The business started as a fundraiser to send her sons abroad as Student Ambassadors during the summer of 2014; she raised over $14k using a family heirloom pound cake recipe. Now, the operation is based in Homewood, Alabama and produces over 5,000 packaged slices of pound cake and hundreds of cakes each month. They ship all over the United States, attend farmers’ markets and other large events, participate in Sam’s Club Roadshows in six states, and sell products on Amazon. April has been spotlighted on QVC and appeared on MSNBC and Your Business.

Gia McCollister

Gia McCollister is a former professional baker who studied and trained in New York and London. She’s now retired after a “family consensus” and enjoys being a grandmother, baking for family, traveling, reading, and learning something new every day. On five different occasions, she participated in The Salon of Culinary Art of New York and won two first prizes, two second, and one third place—all were in the wedding cake category.

Ashley McMakin

Ashley McMakin is the founder and president of Ashley Mac’s Cafe/Catering/Gourmet to Go in Birmingham. Always loving the kitchen and all things food, Ashley decided to turn her hobby into a catering business in 2005 and now has four locations in the Birmingham area. Ashley Mac’s has been voted in “Birmingham’s Best” awards for the past 10 years and has also been featured in countless newspaper and magazine articles, including Southern Living. She also received the “small business and entrepreneur of the year” award in 2012.

Kathy G. Mezrano

Kathy G. Mezrano is the owner and CEO of Kathy G & Co, a catering and event design firm. For over 30 years, her company has traveled the state bringing a restaurant experience to guests in a catering environment—superb food paired with creative presentation. Kathy is also the author of a cookbook for entertaining, Food, Fun & Fabulous: A Southern Caterer Shares Recipes and Entertaining Tips.

Rebel Negley

Rebel Negley was CEO of PSG International/Caroline’s Cart where she helped negotiate an international licensing agreement with the largest shopping cart manufacturer, Technibilt. She has worked as an executive in the food manufacturing industry for many years and currently owns Image Strategies, LLC, where she consults with entrepreneurs about developing new food products.

Laura Newman

Laura Newman is a Brooklyn native who moved to Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 2016. While she initially intended for the move to be temporary, she was so taken by the thriving local food and beverage scene that she eventually decided to open a bar in the booming downtown Loft District. She is now the owner and beverage director of Queen’s Park and Neon Moon. Laura is a certified sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and has a degree in hospitality management from the Institute of Culinary Education.

Kate Nicholson

Kate Nicholson began her culinary career over 20 years ago. In various capacities as a food editor, cookbook editor, and recipe editor, she has produced culinary content for several of the publications at Time Inc. and Hoffman Media. Her current position is recipe editor for the many brands of Meredith Corporation, including Food & Wine, Southern Living, Real Simple, People, Health, and more.

Geri-Martha O’Hara

Geri-Martha O’Hara is a pastry chef and owner of Big Spoon Creamery, an artisan ice cream company with locations in Birmingham and Cullman. All of the ice cream bases are made from scratch using the best real, quality ingredients to create the best possible product, and the flavors change seasonally.

Rosie Pihakis

Rosie Pihakis has more than 15 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. From 2012 until early 2018, Rosie served as the director of marketing for the Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q brand. She then branched out and launched her own marketing agency, Table 52 Hospitality, which provides marketing and event services for a variety of brands throughout the southeast.

Ana Plana

Ana Plana is a chef and culinary lecturer at Auburn University.

Kay Reed

Kay Reed is the executive chef and owner of Iz Café, a neighborhood restaurant; Iz Catering, offering on- and off-site catering; and Iz Good Stuff, the company’s wholesale division. Born into a family where life was not complete without great food, she grew up cooking and entertaining surrounded by the most incredible cooks and role models—food became a way of life.

Leslie Byars Register

Leslie Byars Register is the CEO of L.P.D., LLC (Leslie’s Party Diaries), food blogger of Dear Party Diary at dearpartydiary.com, and a contributing recipe editor for Birmingham Home and Garden magazine

Rachael Roberts

Rachael Roberts is the co-owner of The Atomic Bar & Lounge.

Melany Robinson

Melany Robinson is the founder of Sprouthouse Agency (formerly Polished Pig Media), a national public relations firm.

Christiana Roussel

Christiana Roussel is a Southern food and lifestyle writer whose work has been published in The Local Palate, Taste of the South, Relish, Birmingham Home & Garden magazines, and elsewhere. Always at home in the kitchen or exploring culinary destinations, Christiana came to writing later in life, after first pursuing careers in insurance, sales, and marketing.

Becky Satterfield

Becky Satterfield is the proprietor and executive pastry chef of Satterfield’s and El ZunZún restaurants who was recently recognized as the top female chef in Alabama. She began cooking and gardening with her mother and grandmothers at an early age and has always loved being in the kitchen or the garden.

Angela Schmidt

Angela Schmidt is the executive chef of Brät Brot. She was the founding president of the Birmingham chapter of LDEI in 2013.

Cheryl Slocum

Cheryl Slocum is a James Beard Award-winning freelance food writer, editor, and recipe developer who produces food content for a variety of clients. She has had a long career as a magazine food editor, first running the editorial department and test kitchen at Country Living magazine and later as a senior food editor producing print features and digital content for Cooking Light.

Leigh Sloss-Corra

Leigh Sloss-Corra is the executive director of the Market at Pepper Place, the largest producers-only farmers’ market in Alabama with a national reputation and 350K visitors each year, She previously owned her own catering business in New York City, produced children’s videos for Scholastic Publishing, and headed up Time Inc.’s Lifestyle Video Studio.

Jasmine Smith

Jasmine Smith is a recipe developer and tester at Meredith Corporation. She pursued her culinary passion and graduated with a B.A. in Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University. Following college Jasmine worked on the line at multiple farm-to-table restaurants and was selected for the James Beard Foundation: Women in Culinary Leadership Program. In addition to her working in test kitchens, Jasmine is a freelancer as a culinary producer for a variety of food festivals.

Joy Smith

Joy Smith grew up in the kitchen: finishing dinner for her busy single mom, starting her first restaurant job at 16, cooking in Waffle House at 17, and catering her first wedding at 21. In 2017, she started her business, Sorelle, which offers full-service catering for a wide variety of events, from girls’ nights and birthday parties to baby showers and weddings. Sorelle also offers take-and-bake dinner options or to-go party food that people can pick up and serve themselves. In 2019, Birmingham magazine named her cheesecake the best in the city.

Margaret Ann Snow

Margaret Ann Snow started Snow’s Bend Farm in 2004, along with her husband David. She is driven by a passion for plants, a wonderment of nature and the scientific aspects of farming, a love of good food, and a conviction to care for the land.  The farm uses organic practices to grow more than 50 different vegetables, encompassing over 250 varieties within those crops.  Along with fresh produce, the farm sells cut flowers and pastured pork.  Snow’s Bend Farm produce is marketed through its Community Supported Agriculture program, at The Market at Pepper Place and Tuscaloosa River Market every Saturday morning, and to area restaurants.

Andrea Snyder

Andrea Snyder is the founder, owner, and chief creative officer of RADD Brands Restaurants which consists of four Urban Cookhouse locations, Farm Bowl + Juice Company, and a third fast-casual brand currently in development.

Kathryn Strickland

Kathryn Strickland is the executive director of the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, which provides 11 million meals per year to children, seniors, and families in need. In 2015 she won a scholarship to Harvard Business School’s Nonprofit Management Program. In a previous life, she led adventure trips to locales including Yellowstone, Mongolia, Tahiti, and Botswana.

Pardis Stitt

Pardis Stitt is co-owner and operator of Highlands Bar & Grill, Bottega, and Chez Fonfon restaurants. 

Deborah Stone

Deborah Stone is the founder of Stone Hollow Farmstead, a sustainable farm located in Harpersville, Alabama.

Susan Swagler

Susan Swagler is a food writer for Alabama NewsCenter and Portico Mountain Brook and owner of savor.blog. Susan has written about food and restaurants for more than three decades.

Pat Terry

Pat Terry, PhD, RD, LD, FAND is a professor and Food Labs Director at Samford University. She has been a registered and licensed dietitian for over 40 years, having spent 12 of those years as a nutritionist in Venezuela. She wrote a book, Made for Paradise: God’s Original Plan for Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Rest (2008) as a result of seeing the benefits of healthy living during her time in Latin America.

Anna Theoktisto

Anna Theoktisto is a recipe developer and tester at Meredith Corporation.

Carey Thommason

Carey Thommason began her career in food when she was 16 as a private chef in Greenwich, Connecticut. After graduating from college, she cooked in restaurants in New York City and Los Angeles before working as a private chef again on the east and west coasts, including for Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas. After moving to Birmingham, she worked at Highlands Bar and Grill and now owns and operates DINNER.

Mary Grace Viado

Mary Grace Viado is the corporate executive chef of Village Tavern. She joined Village Tavern in 2002, serving as a sous chef for the restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, and then worked her way up the corporate ladder. She now handles all 10 locations in the US and the first international franchise location in Manila, Philippines.

Jan Walsh

Jan Walsh is an internet entrepreneur, consultant and local expert for Google and Zagat, beta consultant for Go Daddy, and an Amazon influencer. She has founded three Birmingham, Alabama–based web companies, which publish award-winning, profile-based internet directories, such as BirminghamRestaurants.com
(since 2007).

Rachel West

Rachel West, RD, is a nutrition writer and editor at eMeals, the nation’s largest digital meal planning company. She’s a former cookbook editor who created and edited more than 45 books, including two James Beard Award winners.

Rebecca Williamson

Rebecca Williamson is the owner and creator of Holmsted Fines Chutney. Rebecca pursued her culinary passion and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu London. Upon returning to the U.S., she founded her company with the mission of bringing the versatile and popular English condiment to American kitchens and restaurants.

Jennifer Yarbrough

Jennifer Yarbrough is the owner of Crestline Bagel Co.

Laura Zapalowski

Laura Zapalowski is a chef, freelance food stylist, recipe developer, and recipe tester. Laura has been working in the culinary industry for the past 20 years, including The Food Network, Emeril’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Emeril’s Homebase Corporation, Southern Living and Health magazines, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Time Inc. Digital Studio, and Meredith Corporation Digital Studio. She also co-owns Homewood Gourmet, a fast-casual restaurant and catering company, with her husband.