2012 Les Dames d’Escoffier Award Winners Announced

The Les Dames d’Escoffier International Legacy Awards have been awarded to six female culinary and wine “rising stars” from around the country. Les Dames a worldwide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality, bestows the awards annually. 

Under the direction of extremely successful, award-winning Dames, each Legacy Award experience is a high energy, labor intensive and career expanding opportunity for the winners. This year, the number of awards doubled thanks to a generous donation from the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

Six awards were given in three categories, each hosted by a member of Les Dames d ‘Escoffier. The categories include two Culinary awards, two Wine awards, one Entrepreneurship–Specialty Foods award and one Entrepreneurship–Farm-to-Table award.

Established in 2009, each Legacy Award offers non-Dame women a weeklong workplace experience as an opportunity to expand their careers under the direction of Les Dames members who are nationally known leaders in their fields. Candidates were required to have at least four years of professional experience and work in the food or beverage industries.

The Culinary Legacy Award winner is Kubee Kassaye, a graduate of New York College of Technology. She will spend a week with Dame Margaret Chisholm, executive chef at Culinary Capers Catering in Vancouver, British Columbia. Kassaye is currently a Chef Tournant at the five-star Peninsula Hotel in New York City where she is the only woman in the main kitchen.

Over the years, she has been an active volunteer in the Spoons Across America program, which helps school children explore locally grown foods and better nutrition. With an ambitious goal of someday owning her own restaurant, she is eager to grow professionally but also is committed to sharing this knowledge by mentoring other young female culinary students.

The second Culinary Legacy Award winner is Kathy Masunaga, a caterer and operator of the “Sweet Revenge” food truck in Honolulu. Kathy grew up in a family-run factory producing Japanese pastries and later worked in a traditional bakery. After taking time off to raise her two sons, she now caters to the film and television industry in Hawaii and supplies sweet and savory pies at an open market. She will spend a week with Dame Gale Gand, Executive Pastry Chef and partner of Tru Restaurant, on Elawa Farms outside of Chicago.

Entrepreneur–Specialty Foods Legacy Award winner Gida Snyder, a graduate of the KCC Culinary Institute of the Pacific in Honolulu, has a diverse culinary background ranging from Banquet Cook to Chef de Cuisine in Hawaii and harvest Chef in Morey St. Denis in France.

She is Hawaii’s rising star cheese maker at the Naked Cow Dairy, which is 100 percent owned by women. Snyder is forging a new culinary path for herself at the Naked Cow Dairy by expanding the current butter production into also including artisanal cheese. She will spend one week learning with Dame Paula Lambert, president and founder of The Mozzarella Cheese Company in Dallas.

Entrepreneur–Farm-to-Table Legacy Award winner Jodi Remenap works as the Executive Chef for Klean, a boutique meal delivery service for nutrition and weight loss in the Los Angeles area. She is a former physical therapist with a master’s degree. Remenap believes in using local ingredients and transforming them into exciting dishes. Jodi’s credo is that comprehensiveness is a pathway to excellence.

She will work with Dame Paulette Satur, owner of Satur Farms on the North Folk of Long Island, New York where she will learn the skills needed to grow and distribute a wide range of herbs and vegetables aspects to the nation’s top chefs. Additionally, she will work with Dame Ursula Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards  learning all aspects of making fine wine and the art of wine and food pairings.

Wine Legacy Award winner, Jodie Battles, is the general manager and wine director for Fish Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. She holds a Level 1 Sommelier Certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers is currently studying for her Level 2 Certificate and plans to sit for the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) this July through the Society of Wine Educators. 

Jodie holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, hospitality, and tourism management from the College of Charleston. She will enhance her understanding of wine while working with Dame Carolyn Wente at Wente Family Estates in Livermore, California.

The second Wine Legacy Award winner, Katie Lee Dolph, is a wine consultant who works on private tastings and events for Brix Wine Shop in Boston. She previously worked in the sales and marketing department of an Oregon winery. Dolph graduated from Boston University’s Master of Liberal Arts Gastronomy program, which focuses on the academic study of food and wine. 

For several years she volunteered for the International Pinot Noir Celebration, first as a server and later helped with event planning and administration. Dolph will also work with Dame Carolyn Wente at Wente Family Estates where she will learn the wine region, winemaking, and the business aspect of operations.

Dame Susy Davidson, who works with the Julia Child Foundation, expressed that this year’s grant was in “perfect alignment with the Foundation’s goal to further Julia’s passion for gastronomy and the culinary arts, her far-reaching impact as a teacher and mentor, and her lifelong love of learning. She was a mentor to so many women in the culinary world and had great affection for Les Dames d’Escoffier as an organization.”

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