Print Friendly, PDF & Email

For Women’s History Month, we’re showcasing six modern stars of foodservice and their extraordinary contributions. From technological innovators to CEOs, these diverse leaders come from various backgrounds and bring unique perspectives to the table.

Alice Achayo
Founder of The Wine Linguist

Alice Achayo is a dynamic entrepreneur with a diverse background and a passion for bridging connections through the world of food and wine.
Alice Achayo is a Boston-based consultant with a passion for bridging connections through the world of food and wine.

Alice Achayo is a passionate advocate, making the world of wine more inclusive and welcoming. Disenchanted by the Eurocentric nature of traditional wine culture, she founded The Wine Linguist in 2022. Through this platform, Alice works to reshape the language used to describe wine, making it more accessible to a wider audience.

Her approach emphasizes the connection between wine and global cuisine, using familiar food references to bridge the gap between technical terms and personal experience. She also curates wine tastings that spotlight the stories of the winemakers and farmers behind the bottle, teaches classes and workshops, and acts as a consultant for the foodservice industry.

The wine world was quick to take notice of Alice’s influence and featured her work on Wine Enthusiast’s Future 40 Tastemakers 2023. We are excited to follow her story as she continues to solidify her position as a key figure in shaping a more inclusive, eco-friendly, mindful, and engaging wine culture.

The Wine LinguistInstagramLinkedIn

Mary Aregoni
CEO & Founder of Saigon Sisters

Mama Suu, Mary Nguyen Aregoni, and Theresa Nguyen, taking the fast casual industry by storm.
Mama Suu, Mary Nguyen Aregoni, and Theresa Nguyen, taking the fast casual segment by storm.

Mary Nguyen Aregoni is the Chicago-based Founder and CEO of Saigon Sisters. Mary and her family fled to Laos from Vietnam when she was just a baby, to escape the dangers of war. After moving to the states, Mary joined forces with her sister and mother in 2009 to create Saigon Sisters, a fast casual enterprise that celebrates their Vietnamese heritage by sharing their love of Vietnamese cuisine with the world. Saigon Sisters offers a modern take on Vietnamese cuisine, incorporating Southeast Asian influences for wholesome, fast-casual dining.

Mary’s dedication extends beyond Saigon Sisters. She is a proud leader in several distinguished women’s groups within the foodservice and hospitality industry, including the James Beard Women’s Leadership Program, Let’s Talk Womxn, and Les Dames d’Escoffier.

Saigon SistersInstagramLinkedIn

Beejhy Barhany
Owner & Executive Chef, Tsion Café

Chef Beejhy is an Ethiopian-born and Israeli-raised chef and activist who has called Harlem home for the past 20 years.

Beejhy Barhany is an entrepreneur, activist, and as of 2014, Owner and Chef of Tsion Café in Sugar Hill, Harlem. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Israel, Beejhy stands as a proud Ethiopian, a proud Jew, and a proud Black woman. Tsion Café is an eclectic vegan, kosher Ethiopian restaurant with a mission to nourish the body and soul, not just through food but also through art, poetry, and music.  

Amongst her many accomplishments, Beejhy is also founder of the Beta Israel of North America Cultural Foundation (BINA), a non-profit that showcases the culture of Ethiopian Jews and all Jews of Color.

Tsion CafeInstagramLinkedIn

Kayla Castañeda
CEO & Co-Founder of Agua Bonita

Kayla's aguas frescas come in bold and fun flavors like agua de jamaica and pineapple, mango habanero, and watermelon chile.
Kayla’s aguas frescas come in must-try flavors like mango habanero, hibiscus, and watermelon chile.

Kayla Castañeda is the CEO and Co-Founder of Agua Bonita, which supplies bold, fun aguas frescas for all to enjoy. Kayla’s thoughtful approach prioritizes upcycling healthy and delicious “ugly” produce that would otherwise be sent straight into landfills. These non-carbonated aguas frescas are distributed in aluminum cans, for their infinite recyclability. Agua Bonita’s aguas frescas also contain 80% less sugar than the traditional kind because she uses real fruit.

To honor her Mexican heritage and support a vulnerable population, a percentage of every purchase of her mindful and flavorful product is donated to nonprofits that help migrant farm workers.

Agua BonitaInstagramLinkedIn

Sherry Pocknett
Executive Chef & Owner of Sly Fox Den Too

Sherry Pocknett, superstar.
Sherry was chosen by USA Today as one of the 2024 Women of the Year.

Sherry Pocknett made culinary history as the first indigenous woman to win a James Beard award. As a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, she has carved a unique path in the culinary world. Throughout her life, Sherry has been actively involved in the Wampanoag community, and her culinary skills have graced numerous tribal gatherings, including the annual powwow.

As of 2021, Sherry is Executive Chef and Owner of Sly Fox Den Too, named after her late father, Mashpee Wampanoag Chief Sly Fox, Vernon Pocknett. Sherry’s focus on indigenous foods showcases flavor as well as cultural preservation. She sources local ingredients and uses traditional methods like cooking in ash pits, all while sharing the rich history of Wampanoag cuisine with her guests. In 2023, she won the prestigious James Beard award for Best Chef: Northeast, helping to bridge the gap between native cuisine and the culinary world at large.  

Sly Fox DenInstagramLinkedIn

Racheli Vizman
Cofounder & CEO of SavorEat

Racheli's startup is now pioneer in the global FoodTech Revolution.
Racheli is a pioneer in the global FoodTech revolution.

Did you know that Tel Aviv, Israel is regarded as the vegan capital of the world? Racheli Vizman does. Her company, SavorEat offers perfect, plant-based products created and cooked by a robot chef with customizable 3D printing technology, according to your exact preference, and all at the touch of a button.

Racheli brought together a world-class team of specialists in Food Science, Plant Molecular Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Biochemistry, and Business that all share a passion for creating customizable, delicious, and nutritious meat alternatives. Of particular note, SavorEat was the first-ever Israeli FoodTech company to IPO, thanks to Racheli’s vision and executive leadership.


Foodservice Industry Champions

As these women demonstrate, the future of foodservice is bright and brimming with innovative ideas. With their passion, dedication, and unwavering talent, they are not only redefining the industry but also inspiring a new generation of women to take the helm. Who would you add to this list? Let us know in the comment section!

Next Up: How 20th-Century Tea Rooms Gave Women a Seat at the Table


Reply comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *