The hospitality industry has endured heavy impact in the last few years for a variety of reasons, but there are certain female leaders who have not only created their own path towards success in their fields but they have also used their passion and capabilities to help shape the future in hospitality. We decided to shine the spotlight with some well-deserved, extra recognition on the women who are being celebrated by their professional peers for all of the positive efforts in the restaurant business. By using their talents, expertise and influence, they are kicking open all the kitchen doors, stepping out into the scene and cooking up culinary experiences guaranteed to bring people back out to the table again! Join us as we take a big bite indulging in the stories of some of our most inspiring women in the hospitality industry!
Caroline Schiff, Executive Pastry Chef at Gage & Tollner
Caroline Schiff, better known under her play on words Instagram moniker @pastryschiff, is not only a widely celebrated pastry chef by her huge social, foodie following, but also by the most highly accredited hospitality and culinary sources in the industry. Based in Brooklyn, Caroline leads the behind the scenes, dessert creations in the kitchen as an Executive Pastry Chef and provides her talents as a consultant for a number of acclaimed restaurants and bakeries.
Her larger-than-life, gravity-defying hairdo is not only signature, but reflects her over-the- top heart, passion and creativity. Caroline’s impact goes beyond baked goods, you can often find her supporting her favorite charitable community causes while inspiring others to connect over sugary, sweet treats and a menu that feeds the soul.
Caroline sat down with The Profitable Table podcast (fed by Woolco Foods) to discuss the very unconventional route of getting her foot through the kitchen doors, learning from her mentors directly vs a formal educational environment, and now influencing a new generation of chefs on the rise to design their own multidimensional careers. Listen to Caroline’s episode now.
Melanie Landano, Owner of Mel’s Butcher Box
Melanie Landano is a born and raised Brooklyn gal with a flare for marketing. After graduating from the College of Staten Island with a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communication, it didn’t take long for her to land her first big gig with the Walt Disney World Company in Orlando, Florida as a Signature Event Coordinator. As Melanie grew into an international liaison between Disney’s Corporate Management and International associates from 16 nations, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in leadership training after branching out into event planning, organizing cultural school visits, VIP tours and other major developments.
As much as she loved her career at Disney, she had solidified her goals with her recognized accomplishments and was ready to be closer to family. Her return to Jersey was a huge reset when she began a new venture with Bally Total Fitness in a completely different industry. From entry level to a highly accredited spokesperson for the corporation, she was featured in National Television branding spots as a certified training of the gym’s programs. After an unexpected bankruptcy occurred, Bally’s corporation closed and led Melanie to contact her childhood friend, Pat LaFrieda, the CEO of Pat LeFrieda Meat Purveyors.
An instant hire, Melanie quickly evolved into a Senior Project Director position. All of her previous experience made her uniquely qualified to handle many aspects of the business and the needs to thrive. Generating high profile clients including the NY Mets, NY Jets, Boston Red Sox, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, the US Open and more, all created more buzz around the brand.
In another unanticipated plot twist, March 2020, Melanie initiated the launch of another Pat LaFrieda restaurant. One day later, New York City went straight into lockdown due to the pandemic Covid-19. As destiny would have it, she was ultimately approached to open a food truck which she named, Mel’s Butcher Box. Voilà!
Through her connections to LaFrieda, Melanie is able to retain high quality products above her competitors. Using her reputation and marketing skills, social influence spread with lines wrapping around the block to sample Mel’s Cheesesteak and Mel’s Double Burger by opening day. Soon Mel’s Butcher Box was showcased across multimedia channels of all kinds which outgrew her space and led her to open her own brick and mortar restaurant in the summer of 2021.
What does it take to turn a seemingly negative situation into the perfect opportunity to create a thriving business and a scalable brand? Check out Melanie on The Profitable Table podcast as she discusses how, through leveraging her experience, connections, and love for the hospitality industry, she created a rock star food truck that was the springboard for a multi-faceted brand.
Leia Gaccione, Chef & Owner of South + Pine
From childhood Leia Gaccione had a taste and eye for food, always enamored with cooking shows like ‘You Can Cook’ and the talents of ‘Julia Child’. She naturally developed an interest to study the culinary arts and restaurant management at The New York Restaurant School, which led to training in major foodie spots throughout Manhattan, New Jersey, Connecticut and the mecca of Las Vegas.
Her aptitude for the sizzle and simmer of her flavorful dishes, and the ability to create masterful plates of desires allowed her to appear on fan favorites like ‘Iron Chef America’, ‘Beat Bobby Flay’, ‘Iron Chef Showdown’, ‘Chopped’, and ‘Top Chef Houston’.
It was her hosting gig of the documentary film, ‘Her Name is Chef’ which truly solidified her place in the foodie network. Leia’s passion was clear and her mission to serve locally sourced food, main ingredient love, and remain a neighborhood staple in the Morristown community, paved the way for the opening of South + Pine in 2015.
Leia joined us on The Profitable Table podcast and had a far reaching conversation on everything from how to get started in the restaurant business to designing and executing on your dream concept. Wherever you are in your journey in the restaurant industry, this is an episode that you will surely enjoy. Listen to Leia’s episode now.