St. Louis Food Community Celebrates Newest Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier

ST. LOUIS – Members of the executive board of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) recently announced their unanimous decision to welcome 25 delegates from the St. Louis region as founding members of the new St. Louis chapter.

Les Dames is a unique, world wide philanthropic society of professional women in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality.  The invitation only membership includes thousands of women in 27 chapters across the United States and Canada.  Dames apply their knowledge and expertise to efforts that benefit their communities in a number of ways, most notably through providing scholarships and grants and mentoring women who are entering or re-entering the field.

According to LDEI President Katherine Newell Smith, international leaders were pleased at the quality and enthusiasm of candidates from St. Louis.  “LDEI is thrilled to officially welcome St. Louis as its newest chapter. Its charter members are all amazing women.  And we know that they will create a vibrant organization that is a valuable resource in their community and a dynamic part of LDEI.”

According to St. Louis Chapter Co-President Kathy Gottsacker, director of food education at Schnuck Markets, Inc., the group includes local chefs, authors, scientists, restaurateurs, stylists, food editors and educators who were introduced to Les Dames back in March.  “We hosted a launch party at L’Ecole Culinaire to honor visiting author and chef Cat Cora and ‘Chefs for Humanity’ – an organization she founded to bring relief to people in countries where crops have been ravaged by weather and food is scarce.”

“Cat Cora spoke of the need to gather culinary talent around the world and putting them in the right place at the right time to make a difference,” said Gottsacker.  “We believe that is what we’ve done by establishing a Les Dames chapter in St. Louis.  We have gathered an impressive group of women of food who will pool their talents to further the cause of food education in our region and beyond.”

Gottsacker says a second round of candidates will be submitted for membership in fall, following the LDEI annual conference in October.  A formal induction is planned for November 2008.  If you have an interest in learning more about this organization, please contact Lori Willis at 314- 994-4602 or

St. Louis Celebrates Newest Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier – Add One

Editor’s Notes:

St. Louis Chapter officers are: Co-Presidents Kathy Gottsacker, director of Food Education at Schnuck Markets, Inc and Beth Huch, public relations manager Vatterott Educational Centers Inc., which includes Clayton’s L’Ecole Culinaire cooking school;  Co-Vice Presidents Roberta Duyff, culinary nutrition author, speaker and consultant and Barbara Gibbs Ostmann, author, editor and consultant; Treasurer, Kathy Costello, director of Off-Premise Catering Sales for Russo’s Gourmet Catering and Secretary, Lori Willis, Schnucks director of Communications.

Additional founding members of the St. Louis Chapter of Les Dames d’Esoffier include:  Judith Bellos and Cecilly Hoffius, co-owners, Ces and Judy’s Catering; Suzanne Corbett, author/historian; Nancy Schnuck Diemer, co-owner, Schnuck Markets, Inc.; Jeannie Eisenberg, culinary instructor, Schnuck Markets, Inc.;

Helen S. Fletcher, Helen S. Fletcher, owner of Truffles Bakery, cookbook author,

Catherine Neville, editor-in-chief, Sauce MagazineSusan M. Pastoret, senior food service director, Aramark; Barbara Ridenhour, director of consumer affairs, Dierbergs Markets; Kathleen Rule, culinary and marketing consultant/cooking instructor;

Julie Schnuck, co-owner, Schnuck Markets, Inc.; Mary Sutkus, culinary consultant and food stylist; Jane C. Sehnert, co-owner, Annie Gunn’s Restaurant & The Smoke House Market; Sunny Schaefer, executive director of Operation Food Search; Lana Shepek, Rd, LDN, food specialist, Eckert’s Country Store & Farms; Rosanne Toroian, Food Editor, Schnuck Markets, Inc.; Julia M. Usher, author, pastry chef and food stylist and Priscilla Ward, food scientist/entrepreneur.  Mary Moorkamp, chief legal counsel, Schnuck Markets. Inc. holds honorary member status for her support of the organization’s start-up plans.