Women Leaders in
Food, Fine Beverage & Hospitality

2018 Scholarship Recipients


Scholarship Categories and Award Winners

Whole Foods LDNY 2018 Grand Award, $10,000 
This is the first time that this Grand Award has been granted. It is awarded to an outstanding student pursuing studies in healthy, organic and natural food study or industry, as well as nutrition and dietician fields.


• Ki Keys, M.A., Montclair State University, Grand Award
“Helping people achieve health and wellness through access to sound nutrition is my career goal. In order to combat adverse health consequences of poor diet, I want to establish nutritional standards to guide operating practices of leading food service organizations engaged to serve individuals at different life cycle stages.”

Ki earned her degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Montclair State University in May 2018, and will begin her dietetic internship with Sodexo NY in September 2018. Her Master of Public Health in Health Services and BS in Biology from UCLA have aided her in pursuing a career in a variety of health/nutrition sectors: food service, nutrition counseling, clinical nutrition, nutrition education, community nutrition, and research. Ki’s greatest achievement is mothering three conscientious, kind and creative individuals who motivate her to improve the status quo.

LDNY Future Leader Scholarships, $5,000 each
These are awarded to an outstanding student with great potential in the food, nutrition, beverage and hospitality industries.


• Yvonne Cuaresma, New York University Food Studies
“My ultimate goal is to alleviate food and nutrition education disconnections. I want to encourage the movement towards equal nutrition education for all by starting a start-up called Prep Party – a meal prep event company that celebrates health and happiness by teaching guests how to have fun meal prepping!”

Yvonne is pursuing her Master’s degree in the NYU Food Studies program. She completed her BA in Business Finance, with a minor in Human Communications at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). At CSUF, she established the first Herbivore Club (vegan/vegetarian), brought the first Farmer’s Market and initiated a Custodial Staff Appreciation day on her campus. She later worked for UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute and implemented social media platforms and fitness initiatives. Yvonne started the first NYU Opportunity Programs Wellness Series, coordinating events for graduate students.

• Michelle Hughes, New York University Food Studies
“I am passionate about conducting research that will one day create functional advancements in policy reform, sustainable development and social entrepreneurship that will result in a more sustainable food economy and system overall.”

Michelle is a Master of Food Studies candidate at NYU, focusing on food and agricultural economics and policy. Since beginning her graduate degree, she has worked with several organizations with the shared mission of creating a more just and equitable food system including Slow Food USA, the National Young Farmers Coalition and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Food Policy. She has also worked in food distribution, restaurants and even swine farming in rural Pennsylvania. Upon completion of her Food Studies degree, Michelle plans to fulfill a position in policy analysis with the ultimate goal of pursuing a doctorate in her field.

• Kristen Matthews, Montclair State University
“My goal is to make significant changes in food and nutrition policy. I’m on the path to becoming a Registered Dietitian and will pursue a Master’s degree in Education and work with professional organizations more effectively to integrate nutrition education into classroom curriculum.”

Kristen Matthews is a Senior in Dietetics at Montclair State University where she has served on the executive board of the Montclair State Dietetics Organization was the MSU student representative and a student liaison to the NJ Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is already involved in her community through City Green, an urban farm where she provided nutrition education and helped to increase food access through markets in food deserts. She also assists with cooking lessons at an integrative medicine center and has held several social media internships with private practice dietitians.

LDNY Founders Scholarship, $4,000
The prestigious scholarship was first awarded in 2012 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the New York Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, the Society’s largest Chapter. It is dedicated to our founding members, and is awarded to a woman who shows innovation and a history of community service.

• Katherine Magruder, Ph.D. Candidate, New York University Food Studies
“My research concerns the history of food broadcasting in the United States and France, focusing in particular on farmers’ and rural radio networks; the use of fictional characters to deliver state and corporate propaganda related to food; and air rights ownership and listening across borders. My particular focus is on how the circulation of information both helps and hinders food producers.”

Katherine Magruder is a PhD candidate in Food Studies at New York University where she is also a candidate for the Certificate of Achievement in French Studies. She has taught undergraduate courses on critical food studies and modern European history at NYU, Barnard, and Sterling College. Katherine is the assistant managing editor of Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research.

The LDNY Nutrition Scholarship, $4,000
This scholarship honors an outstanding student with a special focus on nutrition.

• Juliette Miettunen, Cornell University
“My passions lie in personal nutrition and improving the quality of life of others through naturopathic medical practices. I believe there needs to be a greater emphasis on the unmistakable role nutrition plays in the treatment of disease in the body, and I hope to lead hospitality-driven health centers that focus on the patients rather than the profits, and prevention rather than just treatment.”

Juliette is a Junior at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. She is focusing on the intersection of hospitality and health and how hospitality concepts can be applied to healthcare settings. She plans to pursue a graduate level degree in Nutrition or Health Administration.

LDNY Members’ Scholarships
These seven awards, sponsored by our Reserve Fund and annual member donations, support a range of expertise from pastry arts, food styling, wine, and culinary anthropology to hospitality, marketing, sales and public relations.

• Jessica Abate, NYC College of Technology, $2,000
“My experience at City Tech has been nothing short of amazing. Every professor I have ever had has been passionate and inspiring. Each of my professors has pushed me to gothe extra mile and exceed my own expectations.”

Jessica is currently enrolled in City Tech’s Hospitality Management Program. Her studies are providing exposure to many different paths that have enriched Jessica’s industry understanding. Once she finishes the Bachelor’s program, she wants to pursue a career in Pastry Arts, combining her love of catering and her passion for cake decorating.

• Bailyn Brink, Culinary Institute of America, $2,500 “My goal is to study, practice and write food law, to work with legislative bodies, governments, and international agencies to facilitate this.”

Bailyn’s volunteer work includes Youth Ministry at her church where she is a Leader working with teens, as well as working at a soup kitchen. Her father, a former Chef, taught her three lessons: “The love of food; the respect of what we do to obtain it; and how it can bring people together in a way nothing else can.” Her culinary experience includes a range of jobs at Friendly’s and at The Biltmore Estate. Bailyn is a student of Applied Food Studies at the Culinary Institute of America.

• Gabriela Maria Diaz, Cornell, $4,000
“With my academic and work experience knowledge I hope to change the food retail system by creating more affordable access to quality fresh foods and reducing food waste.”

Gabriela is a Junior at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, concentrating in the field of Food and Beverage. Since her passion for the hospitality industry stemmed from her love of grocery stores, Gabriela served as the Director of Purchasing for Anabel’s Grocery, a studentrun grocery store aimed to address food insecurity on campus. Gabriela decided to spend her junior year abroad, working as a cheese production intern in Spain in the fall of 2017 and taking part in the International Honors Program on “Rethinking Food Security: People, Politics, and Agriculture” during the spring of 2018, a comparative study abroad program in Malawi, India, and Italy

• Lauren McMahon, Kingsborough Community College, $2,000 “My goal is to open my own bakery, to be able to express my passion through my work, to give back, to practice in-kind purchases for the homeless, and to team up with food charities.”

Lauren is currently a student in the Culinary Arts Program at Kingsborough Community College. Her journey with pastry began when she was 10 years old, baking for school bake sales and watching the student and faculty faces light up to the delight of sweets, even on their most stressful days. She is currently head pastry cook at Ladurée, Soho, where she has had the opportunity to expand and broaden her strengths. Lauren volunteers at culinary conferences, including the US Pastry Competition and Chef Congress.

• Sevil Nimetullaieva, NYC College of Technology, $2,000
“In the future I want to apply my experience and managerial skills to my biggest dream — opening my own restaurant in the heart of New York City where I will be serving very unique food masterpieces for guests all over the world.”

Originally from the Ukraine, one of Sevil’s greatest challenges was to come to a different country to study. She has already received an Associate Degree in Hospitality Management and is currently a student at New York City College of Technology where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree. Her diligence has been rewarded by a place on the President’s List honors, and has led her to become a member of multiple professional organizations. In recognition of her scholarly achievements, she was named to the 2017 All-New Jersey Academic Team. While studying, Sevil has been interning with Highgate Hotels and Wolfgang Puck Restaurants, where she is further building a wide range of knowledge and skills.

• Lauren Piro, International Culinary Center, $2,000
“I am so excited to be pursuing my culinary degree at the International Culinary Center. I hope to develop recipes and food-style some day.”

Presently, Lauren is a senior digital editor on the culinary team at Food Network, where she commissions recipes, photos, videos and more fun stuff about food for FN’s digital platforms. She started her career as a fact-checker at Martha Stewart Living, and went on to edit at many legacy publications like Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful and Ladies’ Home Journal. She’s thrilled to have found a fantastic home in food media at FN, but and is also looking for freelance cooking experience. When Lauren’s not busy honing her knife skills, you can probably find her eating at whatever new pizza place just opened up in Brooklyn.

• Polina Savchenko, NYC College of Technology, $2,000
“My passion for wine and beverage was sparked at school when I took my very first wine course. This helped me expand my horizons and join the Wine and Beverage Management Program.”

Polina’s future wine studies include participation in an advanced wine course taught by Professor Roger Dagorn, MS, in the fall. Polina also plans to continue her education at the International Wine Center, to further progress her career. While continuing her studies, she works at the front desk at Beauty and Essex, and as a Public Relations and Social Media intern at Bayer Public Relations. After graduation from her Bachelor’s program, Polina’s goal is to continue studies in wine and work her way up to a wine consultant or sommelier.


The Dunn Robbins Group, $5,000 The Dunn Robbins Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student who shows creativity in the pairing of wine and food, and who will pass on her knowledge and enthusiasm through writing and teaching.

• Lydia Richards, International Wine Center “After completing the WSET Diploma, I would like to pursue the Master of Wine program and continue growing my business, Vino Concierge a wine consulting and private events company that I launched in 2017.”

Lydia is a certified Sommelier and current WSET Level 4 Diploma Candidate at the International Wine Center. Coming from a long line of wine lovers, her interest in wine flourished while living in Paris, giving her the opportunity to travel to multiple wine regions. She currently works at Colangelo & Partners, an integrated communications agency focusing on wine, food and spirits, working with their Spanish and Italian wine portfolio. On a more personal level, as an Afro-Latina living and working in the United States, her goal is to be able to inspire and mentor future young women interested in working in the wine industry.

Melitta Bentz Women’s Scholarship, $2,500
This is a new scholarship, given by Melitta Bentz, founder of Melitta. She defined it as an “award for a woman who, through innovation or change, has improved a product, process or service.”

• Alesha Hartley, New York University Food Studies
“Food has always been a passion of mine. During my time at NYU, I have worked on various projects dealing with sustainable food products. I volunteer on my local Food Policy Council and I am a member of various groups on campus.”

After becoming a C-CAP alum, Alesha worked in various segments of the food industry including restaurants, bakeries and corporate dining. She is currently working toward her Master’s in Food Studies at NYU. Upon obtaining her degree from NYU, she is looking to work in food innovation and/or in the sustainability space utilizing food design and systems thinking principles.


Four culinary and wine schools have partnered with LDNY to award scholarships. We gratefully acknowledge the Culinary Institute of America, the International Culinary Center, the Institute of Culinary Education and the International Wine Center.

• Molly Botnick, International Culinary Center, Culinary Arts $5,000
“Food is a unique and universal language that holds the powerful potential to bring us together.”

Molly sees her passion for food and the restaurant industry as a platform through which she can drive progress towards sustainability, community building, and racial and gender equity. Originally from Saint Louis, she spent the last five years in Philadelphia after earning a BA from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Molly has a background in social work and nonprofit consulting where she wrote grants and designed programs to address the needs of Philadelphia’s most underserved community members. She is currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts Farm to Table program at the International Culinary Center.

• Natasha Guerrero, International Culinary Center, Pastry, $5,000
“After completing the program, I aspire to work at restaurants and bakeries where I can apply what I have learned in different environments, which will teach me to adapt to the needs of each location and learn how the pacing of different places work. After gaining a broader understanding of how the industry works, I will incorporate that knowledge to design and work in my own bakery.”

As a home baker, Natasha has always baked for family and friends, as well as for some formal events. She decided to follow her passion for baking and enrolled in the Professional Pastry Arts Program at the International Culinary Center. As well as in school, Natasha also finds fulfillment in baking for charities such as the Ascend Education Fund 2017 Scholarship Gala, which raises scholarship money for students to attend college regardless of race, ethnicity, or immigration status.

• Mary Grace Hardy, Institute of Culinary Education, Pastry & Baking Arts, $2,000
“My goal in this industry is to become a human sourdough starter. I would like to spend time working for people who are smarter and more talented than I am, and absorb their knowledge like a sourdough starter absorbs water and flour. I seek the best version of myself…and want to learn, work and strive for perfection.”

Mary Grace worked her way through three years of bakery and restaurant jobs to experience different facets of the food and beverage industry before attending the Pastry Program at The Institute of Culinary Education, from which she recently graduated. She also volunteers for food-related causes and events. Eventually Mary Grace would like to run a small specialty shop in her NJ hometown.

• Sarah Maria Heinzl, Institute of Culinary Education, Culinary Arts, $2,500
“My ultimate goal is to own and operate a multifunctional commercial kitchen that serves both as a base for production of healthy food brands, and offers educational opportunities for a wide spectrum of students.”

Sarah was born in Linz, Austria, where her passion for healthy food preparation began at a young age. She graduated with honors from Private University College of Education of the Diocese of Linz in 2011 and recently from the Institute of Culinary Education with Top Toque distinction. Sarah is a chef, professional educator and aspiring food entrepreneur. In her role as an educator, Sarah has taught a broad spectrum of topics including after-school culinary classes. As chef, she crafted a paleo-inspired diet for an American family with whom she lived as an au pair. She recently completed an externship with Chef Christian Grindrod of East Village’s Villanelle.

• Julianne Parkis, Culinary Institute of America, $2,500
“I hope to use my degree to help tackle the worldwide food waste problem, to learn more about sustainable resource use, and to help educate adults and children about how to use only what we need and to give back to the land.”

Julianne Barbuto Parkis has an MBA with a concentration in Finance and is currently a student at The Culinary Institute of America pursuing her second Bachelor’s degree, in Culinary Arts. There she is a member of Eta Sigma Delta Honors Society. She lives in Danbury, CT and is the mother of two beautiful children, and is passionate about family, food, faith and community.

• Courtney Schiessl, International Wine Center, $2,000 “One day, I hope to own and run a curated neighborhood wine shop with classes and community events, championing great wines and sharing knowledge with others.”

Courtney Schiessl is currently pursuing the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits at the International Wine Center. As a Brooklyn-based wine journalist, educator, and consultant, she has held sommelier positions at some of New York’s top restaurants, including Marta, Dirty French, and Terroir. She has written for Forbes.com, SevenFifty Daily, VinePair, and Wine Folly, among other publications. Never content to focus on just one aspect of wine, Courtney has goals in many facets of the industry. In the immediate future, she plans to broaden the scope of her freelance editorial, sommelier, and marketing projects while launching a consumer-facing, wine education company targeted towards businesses.


The Edna Lewis Grande Dame of Southern Cooking Scholarship,
in honor of Jonell Nash, a devoted LDNY member who is warmly remembered and missed.

• Kameisa “Meisa” Richards, NYC College of Technology, $2,000
“I hope to mentor and teach young women about the culinary arts, and how to cook for both their independence and survival.”

Kameisa Richards, Meisa to her friends and family, is diligently working towards completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management at New York City College of Technology in the summer of 2018. Beginning at the age of nine, cooking had been a part of Meisa’s life. She was a passionate viewer of Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and Martin Yan, who all taught her through their respective PBS television shows. What currently drives Meisa is her love of people and how to make the world a happier place. Looking forward to the long term, Meisa hopes to open a bed and breakfast in her hometown, Brooklyn, NY.

The Florence Griffin Memorial Scholarship, in honor of Dame Mary
Beth Griffin’s beloved mother. This award, selected by the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), is also recognized at the C-CAP Awards Ceremony.

• Alyssamae Gadsden, Port Richmond High School, C-CAP $1,500
“I am very excited to attend the Restaurant School of Walnut Hill, and was thrilled to win Les Dames d’Escoffier New York and Florence Griffin Memorial Scholarship as theresult of the C-CAP culinary competition.”

Alyssamae started in the culinary industry when she was twelve years old by baking pastries to sell to people she knew. Having a tiny business of her own opened her eyes to the possibility of making it a profession. To continue her path, she attended Port Richmond High School. A serious student, in her junior year, Alyssamae was connected to the Career through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) through which she participated in competitions, job shadows, a boot camp, and internships to gain more experience.


Individual LDNY Dames have personally donated these two scholarships:

The Abigail Kirsch Scholarship, $2,500
• Britney Quillen, Culinary Institute of America

“I want to broaden my knowledge by focusing on the whole of the restaurant world, not just one part. I am a knowledge seeker. When I am done with one aspect, I look to see what is next.”

Britney’s love for the food industry began at the age of thirteen when she worked at her parents’ deli in Lancaster, PA. Since then, she has worked in a number of restaurants, always with a keen eye toward seeing what works and what does not. This passion brought her to the Culinary Institute of America, where she has just finished her Associate Degree in Culinary Arts. Her next step is to work toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management with a concentration in Wine Studies and then perhaps a shorter program in Pastry Arts.

The Margaret and Darby Perry Scholarship, $5,000 each
• Elora Duffett, Culinary Institute of America
“Recently, I attended the Women in Foodservice Forum and was exposed to endless possibilities. This, along with the leadership training at the CIA, inspired me to start my own business and become CEO. It is important for me to give back to my community as a leader, mentor, and citizen. I would love to help others while following a passion for the foodservice industry.”

Elora wanted to pursue a career in the culinary industry ever since a young girl. In high school, she worked as a waitress, and immediately loved the interaction with people and the smiles that food brought to their faces. Her externship at CIA was completed at David Burke Kitchen in NYC, where she worked the service line, production, and off-site events. She will graduate from the CIA from the Business Management Program with a concentration in Intrapreneurship.

• Cynthia Madden, Culinary Institute of America
“I knew I wanted to be a Chef when I was 19 years old. I fell in love with the intimacy of the process of turning raw ingredients into an experience for the senses.”

After establishing herself in the accounting field, at the age of 30 Cynthia decided to follow her true calling, and enrolled in the CIA. Her journey into the food industry is not just to explore and express her own passion for food, but also to provide a strong female role model for her daughter. Her goal is to build her own business in the Hudson Valley where she currently lives, collaborating with local farmers, re-introducing farm-to-table in an innovative way to her community. Her grandmother, a single parent, raised six independent daughters, and Cynthia would like to employ single parents, providing them with a life skill, as well as a salary and benefits.

To View 2017 Scholarship Recipients Click Here.
To View 2016 Scholarship Recipients Click Here.
To View 2015 Scholarship Recipients Click Here.
To View 2014 Scholarship Recipients Click Here.
To View 2013 Scholarship Recipients Click Here.
To View 2012 Scholarship Recipients Click Here.

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