March is Women’s History Month, so we decided to round up some of the Valley’s most prominent women in the industry. Whether you’re looking for eats, sweets, or sips, the following women have got you covered. Here at Wander With Wonder we’re so excited to see so many amazing women excelling and defining all things culinary in the Valley. Read on to meet some amazing women and see what the tasteful eight have to say about working in the industry.

Lisa Dahl

Owner of Dahl Restaurant Group in Sedona

The Tasteful eight

Lisa Dahl is the owner and executive chef of Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante ItalianoMariposa Latin Inspired GrillPisa Lisa, and Cucina Rustica. A defining factor in Sedona’s fine dining scene, she opened her first Sedona restaurant in 1995. Serving up Italian, Mediterranean and Latin flavors inspired by her travels in her restaurants, she has expertly woven the stunning beauty of the Red Rocks, fresh and local produce with her international flavors.  Lisa has created beautiful places to make memories and enjoy amazing flavors. Lisa is not only a gem of Sedona but has also a made two appearances at the James Beard House to share her vision with New York City.

Read more about Lisa’s Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill!

On being a woman in the restaurant industry…

“It’s an Inspiring time to be a woman chef. I can feel how the changes of time are working in our favor and it’s almost like a new beginning. I find a sense of empowerment, to say the least. We have the opportunity to raise to the top,  and let our voice to be known that we are no longer going to settle to be a minority in this industry.”

Sarah Chisholm

Executive Pastry Chef

The Tasteful eight

A ballerina at heart, Sarah’s journey to becoming a pastry chef began on the stage. She moved to Arizona to join Ballet Arizona as a professional ballerina trained in Balanchine. After a career-ending injury just five years into her dancing career, her world was changed forever and she began searching for her next passion. Growing up in Chicago, Sarah remembers baking for every occasion alongside her mother. As an adult she always brought what she coined homemade “ballerina cookies” to parties and social events, which are made of an unexpected blend of almond flour, ground espresso, coconut, cashews and grey sea salt. Through her social circle that included many in the Phoenix culinary scene, restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin got a taste of her specialty cookie and knew instantly it would be a hit in his restaurant, Phoenix Public Market Café.

Seeing the world through a new lens as a baker, Sarah was inspired to travel and do stints at bakeries across the world to discover new influences and direction for the Café bakery. From stages in Chicago and New York to Copenhagen and France, she gathered best practices and inspiration including the importance of using local ingredients, focusing on well-styled classics and seeing food as something that is shared, not sold. Upon her return to the states in 2015, Sarah was named executive pastry chef at the Café at the young age of 24, and now leads a team of talented pastry chefs who bake more than 30 varieties of fresh pastries and baked goods each day. With the belief that pastries and sweets are an indulgence and create special moments in life, Sarah has a passion for macarons and Old World-inspired pastries made with unique ingredients – from tangelos and hibiscus to unexpected ethnic spices and garden-grown herbs.

On being a woman in the restaurant industry…

“When you think of chefs, women aren’t necessarily who comes to mind, but that should change.  I like to employ women because I think they bring a great skill set to a kitchen that’s dominated by men. For example, our pastry team at Phoenix Public Market Cafe is 80 percent women. Personally, I come from a ballet background that’s dependent on extreme dedication and that type of dedication is also what’s required in the restaurant industry to be successful. At its core, however, this industry is all about giving and that’s what drew me to this career. Hospitality is a very intuitive thing for me — to love, to nurture, to take care of people. And I think, generally, that comes more easily to women. To do the job of really taking care of people is extremely hard work and woman are much more capable of that than they are given credit for.”

The Tasteful Nine

Sarah’s Favorite Dish: Carrot Cake “I love that it’s nostalgic but we change it up by adding cayenne and vanilla bean to the frosting. It’s familiar with a little something unexpected.”

Jennifer Russo

Owner

The Tasteful eight

Jennifer Russo is the owner of a successful catering business, Jennifer’s Catering and popular Arcadia restaurant, The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer’s in Phoenix, AZ. In 2013, Jennifer Russo relocated her catering operation to Gaslight Square on 36th Street and Indian School Road, and into a space that once was wine storage area for Ernesto’s Backstreet wine bar. In developing her new catering concept, Jennifer quickly realized the end result was that she would soon be, both a caterer and a restaurateur.

The restaurant opened on January 16, 2014 and is a space that is both casual and elegant with a menu of twists on classic American favorites that incorporate locally grown, sourced, and crafted ingredients. A graduate of California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Jennifer has worked with world-class chefs, including Vincent Guerithault at Vincent on Camelback, Chef Anton Brunbauer at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and Viking Cruises, and Mark Tarbell at Tarbell’s. She is the mother of an 8-year-old boy, Cooper and enjoys travel and wine.

On being a woman in the restaurant industry…

 Being a female in what is known as a prominently male industry has had its challenges. As I was coming up in the culinary world I felt as a woman and a young one at the time, I had to prove my worth which meant working my butt off. Many Chefs, especially the European-trained chefs weren’t as willing to let me get my hands dirty and work the hot line. I spent a lot of time in the pantry or as Grande Manager. So I would come in early or come in on my days off to prove to my Chef that I was in it for the long haul. I think my hard work and patience finally paid off and I was able to play with the big boys.  Eventually, I wanted to share my expertise, so I opened my own companies, Jennifer’s Catering LLC and The MARKET Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer’s.
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Audrey Enriquez

Executive Pastry Chef

The Tasteful eight

As the pastry chef at Hotel Valley Ho, Audrey Enriquez oversees desserts and pastries for banquets, amenities and ZuZu, the hotel’s signature restaurant. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Prescott Valley in northern Arizona. She first became interested in pastry at the age of 15. One day, her parents returned home from a day trip and Audrey had prepared a delicious Caramel Apple Walnut Pie. She got such a great reaction, that was the moment she knew she wanted to be a pastry chef.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale with a culinary degree, Audrey moved to Chicago and spent two years crafting pastries for Nordstrom Café. She then took the helm at the Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Buttes as pastry chef. Next was two years as the pastry chef for elements, the signature restaurant at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. After a two-year stint as the pastry chef at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, she joined the Hotel Valley Ho team in February 2017 as pastry chef.

Audrey excels at plated desserts and loves to take traditional desserts and create something different with them. Her favorite dessert is Opera Torte, with layers of almond sponge cake, chocolate ganache and coffee butter cream. She resides in Downtown Phoenix.

On being a woman in the restaurant industry…

Audrey knows it is definitely more common to see female pastry chefs rather than female chefs, and always looked up to the women who could hold their own in savory. She doesn’t think being a woman in this industry has the stigma it used to, a chef is a chef and she gets a lot of respect from her male coworkers.

Pat Chirstofolo

Owner and CEO
Santa Barbara Catering CompanyThe Farm at South Mountain , The Farm KitchenMorning Glory CaféQuiessence and operator of Palette at Phoenix Art Museum

The Tasteful eight

Pat Christofolo is well known in the community as a business owner in Tempe for over 30 years. Her career in the food industry began at the family deli, Capistrano’s. Inspired by her father’s entrepreneurial spirit Pat opened Out to Lunch, the first of many successful food businesses in 1981. In 1992 Pat detected a need in the Phoenix market for a fabulous caterer, so she founded Santa Barbara Catering Company.  Over the years, her catering business has attracted a large number of corporate clients helping Santa Barbara Catering Company develop into one of the largest and most recognized caterers in Greater Phoenix.

In 1997 Pat opened a sister company Santa Barbara Cooks at The Farm, and took over the culinary operations at The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix. At the time there was only one restaurant, The Farm Kitchen, serving lunch. Pat went on to open two additional restaurants at The Farm; Morning Glory Café, serving breakfast and Quiessence, known for its award-winning fine dining.  In 2012 Pat further developed her vision for The Farm when she bought the property and added a beautiful new venue space to host events and weddings.  Santa Barbara Catering was also awarded the contract to manage Palette, the restaurant at the Phoenix Art Museum in October of 2011.  To keep up with the latest business trends, Pat joined the International Caterers Association, where she served on the Board of Directors from 1996-2003 and as President in 2013.  Pat is also currently a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. In 2017, Pat was named an “Outstanding Business Woman” by Phoenix Business Journal and one of the “Women Who Move The Valley” by Arizona Foothills Magazine.

On being a woman in the restaurant industry…

Pat’s vision to keep abreast of culinary trends, to continually create marketing concepts  exposing her businesses to new customers and to incorporate these ideas into her menus,  catering operations and restaurants, has helped to make her businesses successful.  Through education and involvement with the International Caterer’s Association Santa Barbara Catering Company has been able to expand their service expertise, professionalism, and culinary skills. Santa Barbara became the catering company that people talk about when it comes to innovative food, professional service, and creative presentation.

Janna Harris

Owner
Fresko

The Tasteful eight

Janna Harris was born and raised in Oklahoma in a family surrounded by the foods of the south. She pursued her true passion of baking and French pastries culinary school in Seattle and finished off at Le Cordon Bleu is Scottsdale with a degree in the Culinary Arts.

She was hired to run bakery in Tempe, P Croissant, focusing on French pastries and desserts, expanding their menu and growing the business. 

In 2016, yearning to have her own business with her wife, Kody, the duo decided to embrace Kody’s heritage and family recipes and develop the concept, Fresko. Being thrown into a “big fat Greek family” and learning all of their desserts, Janna is now an honorary Greek. Janna developed the pastry menu at Fresko and manages the front of house duties.

Kody Harris

Owner + Executive Chef
Fresko

The Tasteful eight

Kody Harris began her love of the culinary world as a line cook, working her way up through the kitchen hierarchy with hard work. Eventually that work paid off when she became the Executive Chef of Thirsty Lion, a chain of restaurants in the northwest and southwest.

Kody is one hundred percent Greek (her real name is Kynthos Kostandinos Haralampus) and she yearned to break out of the corporate world into a restaurant that was truly her own. She looked to her Greek roots to come up with the fast-casual concept of Fresko with her wife, Janna. Together they developed a healthy, flavorful menu with robust recipes and decadent desserts for the Ahwatukee restaurant that opened in November 2016.

On being a woman in the restaurant industry…

“Being a women in today’s restaurant industry and being respected for it is a big honor. Being such a ‘man’s’ industry, the journey was not always easy, but completely fulfilling at the end of the day. It requires strength, tenacity and the ability to grow a thick skin with the ability to accept criticisms constructively and grow every day.” 

The Tasteful Nine

Janna’s favorite menu item: Spanakopita Kody’s favorite menu item: Lamb souvlaki pita

Tracy Dempsey

Owner & Baker 
Tracy Dempsey Original

The Tasteful eight

Tracy Dempsey’s passion is dessert. After a former career teaching French and ESL at several universities, Tracy decided to switch gears and delve into the alluring world of the culinary arts. Whisks, spatulas and clogs soon replaced the ever-present red ink pen, office hours and classroom wardrobe. Tracy has had the on-going honor of working for some of the Valley’s premier chefs. Her early career found her working in some of the Valley’s best restaurants including Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, Restaurant Hapa, Gregory’s World Bistro, Cowboy Ciao, Kazimierz, Sea Saw and Digestif. In 2009, Tracy decided to try her hand at her own business.

Tracy Dempsey Originals was launched as a producer of wholesale packaged confections and baked goods.  Since venturing on her own, Tracy has found a niche as pastry chef to several Valley restaurants. She has focused on producing desserts and confections with a twist on familiar favorites.  Her desserts may be found on the menus of several local dining establishments including Citizen Public House where she continues to create desserts to complement the savory offerings of friend and chef, Bernie Kantak. In addition, TDO oversees the dessert programs and creates the desserts for a number of the Valley’s talented chefs and restaurateurs. An evolving menu of baked goods, confections and savory items may also be found in the TDO retail shop located at 1323 West University Drive in Tempe and open Thursday-Saturday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

On being a woman in the restaurant industry…

“While we (women) work the same hours and as hard as our male counterparts, we seldom garner equivalent notoriety or respect. I think this is more a reflection of society than the industry itself. All things considered, I would say that we do it because we love what we do and aren’t likely to want to do anything else.”

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