By Carrie Richards, CGNE President
As you may know, The Culinary Guild of New England was founded in 1979 by a group of female culinary professionals who yearned to connect with other female professionals. Initially the Guild was “The Women’s Culinary Guild.” The founding members of the Guild are well-known culinary figures including: Lora Brody, Sheryl Julian, Marian Morash, Sara Moulton, Ann Robert, Dorothy Crandall, and Ruth Lockwood. These ladies felt inspired by Bostonians past and present, who had accomplished great things in the food world — women like Fannie Farmer, Madeline Kamman, and Julia Child, whose “Julia Child & Co.” was then airing on WGBH. They had been content, filling their days with cooking in restaurant kitchens, catering parties, or penning cookbooks — but still, something was missing. They felt increasingly isolated, and realized that by reaching out to others like them they could expand their knowledge, learn new skills, and support one another.
Today the Guild is still based on the foundation laid by our founders but comprised of men and women. Over the past three years the Guild increased our membership six-fold; we attribute this surge in membership to the inclusion of food enthusiasts as members who share a passion for all things culinary, a new website, and the in-kind donations from invited sponsors.
The Guild’s 2012 crème de la crème of events is the April Prix Fixe Six-Course Dinner at the esteemed James Beard House in New York to be cooked by six credentialed Guild member chefs. Our Vice President, Guida Ponte will be at the helm with Phyllis Kaplowitz — with chefs Anthony Mancuso, Judy Mattera, Maryanne Muller, and Jennifer Verrill.
The Guild is honored to be invited to share our culinary talents at this premier culinary institution. Cooking at The James Beard House is often a once-in-a-career experience for a guest chef. The James Beard House dinners are designed to generate funds that support scholarships, education, and advocacy of the American culinary industry by the James Beard Foundation. Held in the former home of the visionary food legend, the James Beard House is considered by most to be the singular most important and influential dining room in the world.
To create a James Beard Dinner is a mammoth financial and logistical commitment for any invited guest chef, but particularly for those that are outside of the New York area and, in this case, are ambassadors for a nonprofit. All of the costs associated with food purchase (including transportation and storage), expertly selected wines per course, marketing for ticket sales, and keepsake menu publications, are the responsibility of the sponsor organization, in this case, the nonprofit Guild. These costs are not offset by ticket sales, which are directed donations made to the James Beard Foundation.
CHEFS GUIDA PONTE AND PHYLLIS KAPLOWITZ
Guida has cooked twice at the James Beard House. Guida’s first invitation to cook was in 1993; Guida served as Sous chef for Jean-Jacques Paimblanc, the (former) executive chef for Legal Sea Foods. Her second invitation was in 1995 while serving as the Chief Research and Development Chef for Legal Sea Foods. Guida is thrilled for this third invitation to cook at the James Beard House as lead of The Culinary Guild of New England’s kitchen team.
Guida began volunteering her time with The Culinary Guild of New England in 1995. She was a member at large for five years before being tapped to serve as the Programs Co-Chair of the Board of Directors. As Programs Co-Chair, Guida designed, planned, and implemented events for members. Guida served as Programs Co-Chair from 2000 till 2009. In 2009, Guida was asked to serve as Vice President.
For this special occasion, Guida and her team created a menu of Portuguese and Spanish influence, reflective of her heritage. Guida always cooks the way she was taught by her mother, a native of the Azores, and her grandmother, a native of Spain, with the freshest local ingredients and always with passion.
Phyllis Kaplowitz is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University. Phyllis first gained notoriety in Boston as an integral player in the rejuvenation of the historic Jacob Wirth Restaurant in the Theatre District. The 140-year old restaurant was named ‘Best Neighborhood Restaurant’ by Boston magazine in 2003 and one of the ‘Top 10 Places to Eat’ in Boston by FoodTV.com during her tenure.
Drawing on extensive travel in the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean, Phyllis allows her cuisine to explore the boundaries of varied tastes and flavors. Phyllis has catered parties for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins, Thomas M. Menino, and the Massachusetts State House. She is recognized across the regional food media circuit, with appearances on such programs as: How2heroes, Stuff Magazine, “The Dish” with Frances Rivera, Boston Globe and Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, Phantom Gourmet, TV Diner, Mix 98.5, WBZ Radio, WGBH-TV, The Olives Table with Todd English, and Chronicle.
Phyllis also volunteers teaching demonstrations at the Boston Center of Adult Education, Boston University, Sakonnet Vineyards Master Chef Series and Boston Cooks. Phyllis was recently inducted into Les Dames d’ Escoffier. In June 2011, Chef Phyllis was a finalist on the Food Network’s “Chopped.”
CHEFS: ANTHONY MANCUSO, JUDY MATTERA, MARYANNE MULLER, AND JENNIFER VERRILL
Anthony Mancuso’s approach to cooking comes from growing up in a large Sicilian family, where simplicity and flavor mattered most. Sunday dinner is where his passion for cooking and pleasing others with food was first born. He would watch his mother and grandmother cook for hours braising down a pheasant that his grandfather had just cleaned. Always wanting to stick his hand in the pot, Anthony’s mother put him to work at a young age.
Years of running a family based business where his technique for Italian food was challenged every day, Anthony thrived for more. A short visit to Chicago turned into a barrage of bread baking and pastry at a small town bakery. Upon returning to Boston, he trained under James Beard award-winning Chef Seth Woods as an executive sous chef, and finally settled down as Chef de Cuisine at Bakers’ Best Catering working under executive chef Phyllis Kaplowitz at one of Boston’s premier caterers.
Judy Mattera owns Sweet Solutions, a business that pairs desserts with sweet/fortified wines for private events, retail shops, schools or corporate settings. A former pastry chef at Boston’s Olives, Grill 23, and The Fed at XV Beacon, she contributes recipes, reviews and articles on the topic of sweet wines to publications such as iSanté, Quarterly Review of Wines and Taste of the Seacoast, among others.
Judy is a member of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, where she has served on the Board of Directors, and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Sweet and Fortified Wine Association, Chefs Collaborative, The Culinary Guild of New England and Les Dames d’Escoffier.
Maryanne Muller joined the Culinary Guild of New England in 1998. She was member at large until 2005 when she elected as Vice President. She became President in 2007, serving a two-year term. Under her direction the Guild formed an alliance with Share Our Strength. Today, Guild members continue to work with Share Our Strength, teaching local families how to prepare healthy and inexpensive meals.
Maryanne is the Survey Coordinator for Zagat, managing reviews for the Boston Restaurant Survey. Formerly a corporate chef, Maryanne is a freelance caterer and personal chef, and she has extensive teaching experience with adults and children. Maryanne is a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and Les Dames d’ Escoffier.
Jennifer Verrill grew up on her family’s farm in Concord, Mass. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, nationally respected for its agricultural academic program; but she had a nagging love of food and wanted to get into the food business. Over the next ten years, she gained knowledge and hands-on experience working in the food industry. She worked on the line at Walden Grill in Concord before moving on to a successful caterer in the Boston area. After working in Providence, Rhode Island for a catering company and restaurant, Jennifer moved back to Concord where she worked at Aigo Bistro as a pastry chef before returning to the family farm.
Formerly a dairy farm, Verrill Farm is now operating as a produce farm with a strong involvement in the early farmer’s market movement. The opportunity was there for Jennifer to add baked goods to the market offerings so a commercial kitchen was built in the old milking parlor at the farm. Homemade pies, made from scratch, were one of the first items produced at the bakery. As the business grew a decision was made to build a year round farm stand and kitchen on the property. Jennifer’s farming, catering, and baking background came to be very useful in the farm’s new endeavors and she began making prepared meals and baked goods to sell at the stand. The addition of ready-to-eat foods and fresh baked goods was added value to a wide selection of fresh produce grown on the farm. Today Verrill Farm is a mainstay of commerce and food sustainability; educational programs include hosting cooking and harvesting events for the Culinary Guild of New England. Verrill Farm is a standout operation in this agriculturally rich region, having earned the Commonwealth Quality Seal from the State of Massachusetts for superior business practices and produce.
Jennifer serves as Programs Chair on The Culinary Guild of New England, and is a member at large of Les Dames D’Escoffier and The Concord Agriculture Committee. She has appeared in articles submitted recipes to: The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Killer Pies, Best of Boston Magazine, and How2Heroes.
CULINARY STORY OF CHEF GUIDA PONTE
A native of the Azores islands in Portugal, Ponte began her culinary training early. She credits her grandmother and mother for igniting her passion for the food ways and traditions of Spain and the Azores, an archipelago with a rich tradition of excellent seafood. Armed with solid training in Portuguese cuisine, Ponte was eager to expand her repertoire. She moved to the US to pursue formal culinary training at Newbury College where she received a degree in Professional Food Service Management.
Ponte’s solid expertise with seafood led her to Legal Sea Foods where she quickly rose to the position of Chef of Research and Development. Ponte led the growth from a single take-out establishment into the internationally recognized restaurant and business it is today. While with Legal Sea Foods, Guida opened more than a dozen restaurants nationwide and cooked for two Presidential Inaugural Balls, by invitation. After almost 20 years at Legal Sea Foods, Ponte moved to Verrill Farm in Concord where she currently works. Verrill Farm is a family farm dedicated to sustainable food, which recently received the Commonwealth Quality Seal from the State of Massachusetts. In Verrill’s kitchen, Ponte practices the farm-to-table philosophy by creating recipes and menus with produce direct from the farm’s fields.
From 2003 to 2008, Ponte was commissioned to be a visiting Chef at The Herb Lyceum in Groton. At the Herb Lyceum, Ponte created delectable dishes based on local and seasonal foods. Ponte garnered outstanding reviews and developed a loyal following.
In 2010, Guida was hand selected by First Lady Michelle Obama to be a part of the ‘Chefs Move to Schools’ Program. Guida now advises the highly populous Concord and Quincy, MA school systems. Being inspired to work with kids of all ages, Guida formed an alliance with Future Chefs and The Culinary Guild of New England creating a scholarship program funding culinary scholarships for local underprivileged teens. This will be her third time cooking at the James Beard House.
Chef Guida’s Professional Affiliations:
Please contact us if you would be interested in sponsoring The Culinary Guild of New England at the James Beard House on Saturday, April 28, 2012!