Blanca Aldaco is past LDEISA president 2015-2019 and founder, owner and operator of Aldaco's. An entrepeneur for more than 33 years, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Blanca's name is synonymous with authentic fresh Mexican cuisine and handcrafted Margaritas. Her contributions have elevated the taste and style of the city's cuisine offerings and have helped bring national recognition to San Antonio. Proud past LDEISA 2015-2019 President and 2022 LDEI Conference co-chair.
Past president Di-Anna Arias grew up cooking and canning vegetables from her grandmother's garden. Renowned for her creativity and culinary expertise, this trailblazing VP of Sales and Culinary Vision at Don Strange of Texas curates exquisite menus, spearheads culinary initiatives at numerous organizations, and serves on the board of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas-Alamo Mission Chapter. When not planning events or filming her TV cooking segment, she cares for rescue furbaby, Dottie Bel
Leslie Komet Ausburn is founder and President/CEO of Komet Marketing Communications, an award-winning strategic public relations and marketing firm. She has more than 20 years of experience in public relations/crisis communication. Previously an award-winning television news reporter and anchor for 15 years, Komet Ausburn attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas at Austin, earning a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She also holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwester
Allison Balfour is co-founder and Administrative Officer of Southerleigh Hospitality Group, leading back-of-house operations/administrative procedures for Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, Brasserie Mon Chou Chou and Southerleigh Haute South. Previously Enterprise Account Manager at Rackspace, Allison discovered her passion for the hospitality industry at University of Houston. She was with Four Seasons Houston when she was recruited to help open Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. Allison is dedicated
Nichole Bendele is the Marketing, PR and Outreach Director for Becker Vineyards and also a Sommelier, WSET Level II. A Dame since 2009, she has also served on the boards of the Fredericksburg CVB, Texas Department of Agriculture Wine Industry Advisory Council, Texas Center for Wine & Culinary Arts, and currently, the Texas Hill Country Wineries. An avid traveler and foodie, Nichole has visited 14 countries, enjoys culture, history, friendships and her English Mastiff Sadie.
Ten years after retiring from the company she co-founded 30 years ago, Lainey Berkus is now part of the LAZO with Don Strange team at Estancia del Norte Hotel. Lainey also leads the Estancia Cares community outreach program that supports nonprofits in
San Antonio. She will soon be giving tours highlighting the restaurant/hotel art collections. > Lainey is an active arts patron, sits on numerous cultural advisory boards and adores spending time with her grandsons.
1985-1998 President and CEO GOURMETDALLAS Special Events and Catering.
2002-2015 Stoney Ridge Ranch B&B
A Texas Hill county B&B, wedding venue, concert venue. Hondo, TX
2018-Present Berkshire Mountains Private Retreat. Canaan, New York
2019-2022 Board Member, Greater Edward Aquifer Alliance Fundraise/Catering
JoAnn Ezquerra Boone became a Dame in 2016 when she was President/CEO of the Rio San Antonio Cruises barge operation. JoAnn took it upon herself to diversify local food and beverage options on the San Antonio River barges by increasing the allowed restaurants/caterers from eight to 23 citywide. This improvement forever changed the dinner-barge experience. Boone continues to support the SA Food Bank and other womens’ organizations that encourage diversity and education for advancement.
Angela Covo earned a B.A. in Neuroscience and Spanish from New York University, honing her award-winning journalism skills at San Antonio College. Angela co-founded and is editor-in-chief of Edible San Antonio and helped achieve San Antonio achieve the designation of UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Covo sits on the San Antonio Creative City of Gastronomy Task Force and the board of the SAFILM-San Antonio Film Festival and, time permitting, teaches English at the CIA-San Antonio.
Over the years I have spent time in various areas of the food industry. I started in catering and worked my way through deli, cheese, product development and currently as a distributor of gourmet foods. I am a Certified Cheese Professional who specializes in cheese and charcuterie from around the world. I have a passion for learning and have spent time in multiple countries attaining knowledge of cheese making, affinage, charcuterie curing and distribution of specialty foods.
Crystal Dady, business partner and wife of Chef Jason Dady, owns the Jason Dady Restaurant & Catering Group. In 2001, they opened their first location, Crystal spent evenings running the restaurant while maintaining a career at USAA and starting a family. After opening the next two concept in 2006, she dove full-time into the business. With a mathematics degree in her back pocket and marketing career, her roles range from CFO to CMO to Chief Taste Tester.
Graduated from college.
Married a fine lad.
Ranch goats and cattle.
Built a business.
Sold a business.
Joined LDEI-SA in between.
Jess is a Rio Grande Valley native and lover of all things food. A storyteller at heart, Jess spent time at the San Antonio Express–News (staff), and the San Antonio Current (food and nightlife editor) before dabbling in food and beverage marketing. She’s currently the Executive Producer for MySA.com.
Erin Engels serves as the VP of Strategy and Corporate Development for Breakthru Beverage. Previous to this, Erin worked at Sysco Corporation, where she held various senior leadership positions with increasing responsibility in the areas of Strategy, M&A Integration, Sales, and General Management. Erin earned a B.S. and M.S. in General Engineering and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She sits on the boards of the Texas Restaurant Association.
Nancy joined Potluck Hospitality at Pearl as the Senior Markets Manager in January 2022. Prior to that, she was the manager of Pearl Farmers Market for 5 years. She was instrumental in growing the vendor base and adding a Sunday maker’s markets, night markets and holiday markets. Before joining Pearl, Nancy owned restaurants in SATX and Boerne, TX. At Potluck Hospitality, she leads the team that is responsible for all Markets. Nancy Fitch is President of LDEISA and 2022 Conference co-chair,
Katrina Flores is sous chef at Tributary Restaurant in Marriott River Center, overseeing seven restaurants. Previously, Katrina was Culinary and Wellness Specialist at the Botanical Garden; Culinary Flavor Development Assistant with Brinker lnternational; a corporate chef, managing food service operations for the United States Federal Courts. She also has served as a hospital executive chef, an educator, catering chef, manager and event planner. Katrina has B.S. degrees in Culinary Nutrition.
Caitlin Rademaekers Foose is an award-winning television producer. Focused primarily in Food TV, Caitlin has worked alongside the best chefs in the business to help bring their stories to life through the medium of television. In 2018, Caitlin was nominated for an Emmy for her work as Supervising Producer on Top Chef: Kentucky. A native Texan, Caitlin is also proud to have produced four seasons of Goodtaste with Tanji, hosted by fellow Dame Tanji Patton.
Dr. Lana Frantzen is a science-based nutrition, food, culture & agriculture strategist. Her passion for nutrition education culminated in internationally-recognized, peer-reviewed published research with food-insecure Hispanic children. She enjoys transforming complex nutrition research into easy-to-understand, practical info to make others’ lives healthy & well-balanced. As a perpetual learner & mom of two boys, she learns on a daily basis while seeking to embrace all the world has to teach us.
Cris Goloby is a chef instructor at St. Philip’s College. She is proud to be a graduate of the program where she received a scholarship from LDEISA to complete her studies. She is an avid cat lover, loves to read any new cookbook and loves a good food story. She believes there is nothing more unifying than a good meal shared by friends and family. Goloby also operates Delightfully Delicious, an in-home catering company,
Kay Shumake Grinnan – Business Development Manager for Sysco South Texas. Entered the industry of Food Service Distribution in 1980. Learning all aspect of distribution to each component of food service. As a District Sales Manager, I worked closely with multiple local prominent restauranters and was on the Board for the San Antonio Restaurant Association for 5 years. I lead the first Development Team for Sysco Business Resource and continue to work closely to develop local concepts.
Native San Antonian, Founding member LDEISA, over 50 years of varied professional experience in culinary arts Including: caterer, avocational culinary teacher, product developer, food writer, food industry marketing consultant, national media representative, event planner, recipe developer, non-profit development director, co-author of
prize winning Hispanic healthy lifestyle initiative, and partner in artisanal beverage company.
Now happily retired.
Kelly is Chief Administrative Officer at Kerrville Hills Winery. She has a background in fundraising and development working for private schools in Austin and New Orleans. Upon returning to her hometown in the Texas Hill Country, she realized her true passion- great Texas wine!
Karen Haram retired after 34 years as San Antonio Express-News Food/Taste/Dining Editor where she won more than 50 awards for her food writing and editing. Under her leadership, Taste was named best in the country five times by the Association of Food Journalists. Karen has taken cooking classes throughout the United States, Asia and Europe, was regional editor for Cook’s magazine and authored “San Antonio Cuisine.” She has judged some 100 culinary competitions, including the first $1 million
June Hayes is a past president of LDEISA, chaired the 2000 International Conference and served as 2nd Vice President of LDEI International. Owner of Heritage Estates, Hayes works with Time Dollar on their fund-raising projects. She is a food stylist, writer, editor and recipe developer, was on the H-E-B cookbook committee; was text author of Texas the Beautiful Cookbook 1995 edition;and, editor of San AntonioHomes & Gardens and Austin Homes & Gardens magazines.
Lucille Hooker, owner of Jacala Mexican Restaurant which her parents started in 1949, has been a Dame since 2005. Unfortunately, in March of 2022, after 73 years in business, Jacala burned to the ground. With it went countless memories that customers, as well as family members had over the years. Lucille is not completely out of the food business as she is pursuing other avenues. Becoming more involved with LDEI San Antonio is one goal.
Susan Hamilton Johnson learned to cook and garden from her Grandparents as a child following her grandfather around his 1-acre garden and canning and freezing the bounty with her grandmother. She earned her first Culinary Certificate in French Cuisine from La Bonne Cuisine School of French Cooking in Austin, Texas while studying for her Bachelors at UT Austin in the 1970’s. Studying cuisines of the world and the healing properties of food was her first love and has been her life’s work. She was
One of the nicest things that ever happened to me was being asked to join LDEI-SA in 2000. Before that I had a marketing career in oil and gas publications. In 1988 I moved to The Netherlands and went back to school—cooking school. In 1995 Pink Peppercorn School of Culinary Arts opened. Four years later, Central Market hired us to open their new cooking school. Afterwards I began teaching hands-on classes and still do, now and again.
Julie Kuhlken, PhD, is CEO and co-owner of Pedernales Cellars in the Texas Hill Country. A well-versed wine professional, she has earned the Level III award from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and has served as President of the Texas Hill Country Winery Association. As a graduate of Stanford University and former academic, she is the author of a book and numerous articles in the field of philosophy, including essays on wine and philosophy.
Abby Kurth has degrees in Biology, Public Health, and Nutrition. A Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Kurth works with clients nationwide, prompting her to write a book to help them use psychological tools and small steps to successfully adopt healthy lifestyles — “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired: 9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases.” A virtual health coach, Kurth has a blog at abbykurthnutrition.coach and a private Facebook group, "Conquerors of Healthy Habits.”
Growing up in an Italian produce family taught Dr. Julie La Barba the value of fresh food and the power of gathering families in the kitchen. This fostered her professional commitment to childhood nutrition and public health advocacy for the underserved.
From public health roles as lead health consultant for the H-E-B Body Adventure Exhibit to founding Medical Director of CHEF (Culinary Health Education for Families) at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, she empowered families to make delic
Raised on a family farm and ranch set the groundwork for Marilyn’s career with the Texas Department of Agriculture assisting growers and producers in Central and South Texas with marketing and economic development. Food, wine, horticulture, wildlife and natural fibers were some of the areas she delved in during her 23+ years with the State. Upon retiring, she devoted time to her ranching endeavors, and shortly after, undertook management of Fratello’s Italian Market & Deli.
Ana Maria Martinez Egan, originally from Mexico City, graduated from Universidad Iberoamericana as an Industrial and Graphic Designer. She received a Certification of Chef from the School of Culinary Arts at the same university, where she later was Professor Emeritus. Food styling, which blended her degrees, became her passion, and she styled food across the country. Owner of La Merienda Catering, Egan is an Adjunct Professor in World Cuisine at University of the Incarnate Word.
Mary Martini earned a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Mary has always been passionate about food. She was raised in a restaurant in Upstate New York. Her grandfather and father had restaurants. Her five brothers now own 5 restaurants in upstate New York. Mary has Managed the Central Market Cooking School in San Antonio for the last 22 years and has a regular cooking segment on the San Antonio Living Show, a local NBC affiliate.
Jenny Mattingsley has worked as a pastry chef in Austin, New York City, Seattle and San Antonio. She is Food Services Director at the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit, pastry consultant and baker for Paesanos Restaurant Group, and adjunct professor in the Nutrition Department of The University of the Incarnate Word. Her food philosophy focuses on health and enjoyment of the beauty and flavors inherent in the wide variety of ingredients available.
Kim Mauldin is a retired Pastry Chef of more than 20 years. She is now a Realtor and carries her love of hospitality into her real estate business, making her clients feel like family. Kim enjoys being a part of the LDEI sisterhood and loves meeting members in sister cities. She is a mother of 3 bonus sons, a Lolli to 2 beautiful granddaughters and wife to her loving husband.
Tracey Maurer is an IACP cookbook award winning photographer specializing in Food Photography.
Tracey has specialized in commercial photography for the past 30 years.
Her background in Theatre Arts and as a commercial photographer have given her a keen eye for “story telling” when photographing for her clients. Tracey has built a successful business by bringing a creative edge to her photography and by maintaining quality and consistency. She is a former President of the LDEISA
Denise Mazal Resnerova is internationally recognized as a certified Czech chef significantly contributing to the culinary lifestyle and spirit of the Czech nation. She has worked with prominent chefs and the members of the Czech National Culinary Team. She worked at Hotel Concorde Lafayette in Paris, for Hilton Corporation in Munich, and in Boulder, CO. A professional knitter and stitcher, amateur artist and architectural designer, she plays competitive tennis and golf in her free time.
Director of Sales & Marketing at The St. Anthony Hotel, Doreen Patino began her hospitality career in 1982 after attending the University of Texas. She worked with the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in five-star properties for 10 years before making San Antonio her home. Her love for Food & Beverage and her knack for sales led her to a Director of Catering & Conventions role for 20+ years before moving to Sales & Marketing.
Emmy award-winning journalist Tanji Patton pursues her culinary passion as executive producer and host of Goodtaste with Tanji, a television series that showcases Texas chefs and restaurants and airs in 15 Texas markets. She also produces a digital show at Goodtaste.tv. A recipient of the Texas Tech University College of Mass Communications Distinguished Alumni award, Patton received a B.A. in journalism from the university while working as a reporter and anchor at local affiliate KLBK-TV.
As long as I can remember, food and cooking have always been a passion of mine. When my first career wasn’t as fulfilling as I hoped, I knew it was time to pursue my true love. I began catering and working in the industry part time, and in 2018 I graduated from St. Philip’s College with my degree in culinary arts. I am proud to now be back at St. Philip’s as a chef instructor!
Jenny Placette is starting her 22nd year as a Texas Educator. She received her Bachelor’s in Music Education & Master’s in Education Administration from Lamar University. Chef Placette also earned an Associate’s in Food and Beverage Management from Central Texas College and Chef Certification from The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio. Chef Placette is a Dual Credit Culinary Arts Instructor and CTE Department Chair at Lanier High School and holds a ProChef Level 1 Certification..
Pastry Chef Elise Russ has been passionate about dessert since she was a child, elaborately decorating cookies with piles of icing that had no hopes of ever hardening. Advancing past cakes shaped like Barbies and soccer balls, Elise pursued a degree in Baking & Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University. Elise is the Pastry Chef and Owner of Clementine with her husband John Russ a proud member of LDEISA
Elise is a mother of three; enjoys frosting sugar cookies with her children.
Christa Sauers is a classically trained chef. She is currently the resident chef and culinary educator at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. Christa is extremely passionate about supporting and celebrating our local food and beverage makers, producers and farmers. She was the former publisher of Edible Denver Boulder Ft. Collins and currently is recipe writer for Mi Querido San Antonio.
Darcie Schipull, co-owner of The Barn Door Restaurant and RD Speakeasy, purchased the Barn Door with husband Randy Stokes in 2011, continuing a 58-year San Antonio tradition. In 2019, they opened a small speakeasy called RD (Rear Door, Red Door, Research and Delivery or maybe just Randy Darcie) with the goal of having fun. She serves on the Board of Directors for Restore Education and the Board of Concordia San Antonio’s Lutheran Women’s Missionary.
Past-President Kathy Shearer is an award-winning publisher, specializing in regional cookbooks. One of her cookbooks won the IACP Cookbook Award for Design, another was the basis for a television pilot. Shearer, who helped develop a line of condiments from another cookbook, is on the steering committee to help Fredericksburg, TX, plan and implement changes for the next 20 years. Kathy spearheaded the Aspirations Grant program to assist women in regional businesses that complement LDEISA’s vision
Emily Simpson is the owner of Cartewheels Catering and Carte & Co Market. Her love of food and entertaining began early on having grown up in the catering and restaurant industry as Chef Debby Stein’s daughter. Cartewheels Catering is known for producing luxury off-premise weddings in the Texas Hill Country. Cartewheels has received numerous awards and accolades including the ACE award in 2017. Emily serves on the Board for NACE and is also an active member of the ICA.
Colleen Swain is the Director of the City of San Antonio’s World Heritage Office, which was established to implement a work plan developed with community input to leverage the designation for socio-economic change. In 2017, she coordinated a successful application to become a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the category of gastronomy and serves as the Focal Point for San Antonio and Deputy Coordinator for all the UNESCO Creative Cities of Gastronomy.
Chef Debby Stein is Founder of Cartewheels Catering in the Texas Hill Country. Her simple, sophisticated approach is evident in her work. A trendsetter, her dishes and design are innovative and fresh. Debby has served as a mentor for International Caterers Association, an Ambassador and Speaker for Catersource, and serves on the ICAEF board. Debby has received numerous professional awards and accolades including the prestigious ACE Award West Region (Achievement in Catering and Events)
Diana Barrios Trevino is owner, operator and vice-president of Los Barrios Enterprise, which includes Los Barrios, La Hacienda de Los Barrios, Viola’s Ventanas and La Hacienda Scenic Loop Restaurants. She has been involved in her family’s restaurant since it opened in 1979 and has cooked at the White House. A cookbook author, she is a frequent guest on TV cooking programs, with appearances on “Good Morning America,” “Weekend Today Show,” PBS-TV, Food Network and more.
Linda B. Triesch, RDN, CDCES, is a fifth-generation San Antonian. Her love of food started at a young age and she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics at the University of Texas at Austin in 1979. Her training includes clinical nutrition and quantity food service management. Professional experiences include consulting for long-term care facilities, hospital food service management, and private practice. In 2010, she resigned from Southwest General Hospital as a Diabetes Clinician
Dion Turner, registered and licensed dietitian. She has experience as a business owner, clinical and consultant dietitian as well as food service director for hospitals and nursing homes. Since retiring in 2020, she has been cooking for people after they have surgery and for new moms, specializing in healing and lactogenic foods. Dion is certified through LEAP (Lifestyle, Eating And Performance), specializing in food sensitivities and diet-induced inflammation for individualized nutrition care.
Jennifer Ruth Vitera owns and operates a farm and also is an apiarist. She specializes in farm & ranch land real estate brokerage and commercial real estate development. Jennifer previously worked as a vegan chef at Whole Foods and was on the culinary team at Lake Austin Spa Resort. Jennifer received a pastry certificate from Le Cordon Bleu Paris, and a certification from Natural Epicurean Austin in Vegetarian Cooking. She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and Texas Woman’s Unive
A cook from a young age, Julie immersed herself in Italian cuisine living in Italy. She loves Italian, Indian, Thai and Mediterranean food. As a food scientist, chef, food stylist, restauranteur, recipe developer and cooking school owner, Julie has always promoted bringing love back into the kitchen. Currently working on a cookbook and blog, she’s grateful to help other women succeed in the culinary world through her work as an LDEISA Dame.
Born in San Jose Costa Rica I attended Universidad Latino Americana de Centro America. Currently I own Mr. Juicy Burgers with My husband/chef Andrew. Past restaurants include Le Reve, Sandbar, Moshe’s Golden Falafel, The Luxury, Sip and Signature. AWRG is our restaurant consulting business. We live in San Antonio with our three children, 4 dogs and some reptiles in my son’s room!
Carole F. Wong is Vice President of Human Resources at FBD Partnership, L.P. A credentialed sommelier, she taught Culinary Institute of America students and was recognized as a top sommelier by the San Antonio Express-News. Carole holds a B.S. in Economics and Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University, a Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist in Wine from the Society of Wine Educators.
Kim Beechner is the CEO of Embark Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in the food and beverage industry. She and her team have spent more than 13 years helping companies grow their brand awareness and digital presence. Her inspiration behind the company comes from many years of working in the service industry and her travels around the world, which have helped her develop a profound appreciation for cultures and cuisine.
Vanessa Valadez Van Cleave is the COO of Global Food Products, LTD. She oversees the daily & strategic operations of the company’s domestic and international activities including acquisitions, legal, operations and finance. She managed the acquisitions of multiple affiliates and various brands while leading research and development for those brands. Additionally, she is the founder, owner and acting Chief Financial Officer for GFP Processors LLC, the processing branch of Global Food Products.
San Antonio Chapter established in 1995