Top 30 Women in Food 2024

Top 30 Women in Food 2024


MAR 05, 2024


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Presenting our Top 30 Women in Food of 2024

Lunchbox presents the Top 30 Women in Food of 2024, recognizing 30 of the top women leaders spanning across the restaurant and hospitality industry. 

Selected by the restaurant industry itself, these are our Top 30 Women in Food for 2024.

1. Amanda Hyde, SPB Hospitality

Amanda Hyde, SVP of Operations at SPB Hospitality, tracks nearly two decades of experience in restaurant operations. Her journey from Bob Evans to Logan’s Roadhouse and Mimi’s Cafe reflects her ability to drive operational efficiency and customer satisfaction across diverse brands.

2. Angela Lape, Frisch's Restaurants

Angela Lape brings over 20 years of industry experience to her role as Regional Director of Operations at Frisch's Restaurants. Before joining Frisch's, she was a Franchise Operations Business Consultant at Yum! Brands and held managerial positions at Skyline Chili and Buffalo Wild Wings. Angela is also actively involved in mentoring programs, fostering leadership development in the foodservice industry.

3. Anna Tauzin, Big Chicken

Anna Tauzin, Head of Marketing at Big Chicken, has a robust background in the B2B hospitality sector, leading initiatives at ChowNow and the National Restaurant Association. With extensive experience in marketing, industry relations, and innovation, Anna is currently driving marketing strategies at Big Chicken while also serving as Principal at The Good Kind consultancy, focused on sharing innovative solutions across the B2B Hospitality space. 

4. Brandy Blackwell, Another Broken Egg Cafe

Brandy Blackwell, VP of Marketing at Another Broken Egg Cafe, brings over a decade of marketing expertise to her role. With previous stints at Jimmy John’s, Tijuana Flats, and McAlister’s Deli, Brandy is recognized for her innovative approach to technology implementation, as highlighted in her recent feature in FSR Magazine.

5. Carin Stutz, Hawaiian Bros, Kura Sushi

Carin Stutz, with 50 years in the restaurant industry, has held key positions as Board Member, President, and CEO across various brands, including Hawaiian Bros, Kura Sushi, and Cosi. Notably, she co-founded the GLEAM Network, providing mentorship to underserved individuals in foodservice, and has held executive roles at Native Foods, McAlister’s Deli, and Brinker International.

6. Carissa De Santis, BRIX Holdings

As Chief Technology Officer at BRIX Holdings, Carissa De Santis leads technology and digital efforts across a portfolio of 8 multi-unit restaurant brands. With over a decade of experience in technology roles at enterprise-level restaurant brands, Carissa is a driving force behind digital innovation in the industry.

7. Catherine Lederer, Chopt 

Catherine Lederer, SVP of Food & Beverage at Founders Table, has 15 years of experience spearheading guest satisfaction and operational strategies in foodservice. Her tenure at Chopt Creative Salad Company and role as Director of Sustainability at Le Pain Quotidien demonstrate her commitment to culinary excellence and sustainability practices.

8. Cherryh Cansler, Networld Media Group

With over 8 years of experience as VP of Events at Networld Media Group, Cherryh Cansler is a professional in organizing large-scale industry conferences. Her leadership spans 9 online publications and multiple widely-popular industry events.

9. Chrissy Ouellette, Lunchbox

Chrissy Ouellette, VP of Sales & Partnerships at Lunchbox, joined Lunchbox over a year ago after spending 5 years with SpotOn. Her strategic initiatives propelled SpotOn's expansion from a $625M to a $4B company, showcasing her talent in driving success through partnership development and sales strategies. Prior companies include POSDATA Group, CDE, Vanco Payment Solutions, and CPAY. 

10. Cindy Syracuse, BurgerFi 

Chief Marketing Officer of both BurgerFi and Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza with over 25 years of experience on both agency and corporate in retail and restaurant industry for such brands such as TGIFridays, Firehouse Subs, Bob Evans, White Castle and Burger King.

11. Claudia Lezcano, Fuku 

Claudia Lezcano, CEO of Fuku, possesses over 25 years of corporate marketing and leadership experience across multiple industries, including hospitality, major league sports, and QSR. Her previous roles within the restaurant industry include leading brands, Burger King and Church’s Chicken. She currently holds a Board of Director position at Bluestone Lane and MyVenue. 

12. Courtney Smith, True Food Kitchen

Courtney Smith, currently consulting for True Food Kitchen, has held leading marketing roles at various prominent restaurant chains. Her expertise in field marketing and catering sales programs is reflected in her contributions to brands like Newk’s Eatery, La Madeleine, Corner Bakery Cafe, and Firebird Restaurant Group.

13. Danielle Vona, Bloomin' Brands 

Danielle Vona, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Bloomin' Brands, is renowned for her strategic leadership in marketing. With a diverse background encompassing roles at Sonic and PepsiCo, Danielle's contributions extend beyond her professional endeavors, as seen in her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

14. Denise Pedini, Newk's Eatery

Denise Pedini, Chief Marketing Officer at Newk’s Eatery, brings over three decades of marketing expertise to her role. Her previous leadership positions at Pizza Inn and Pizza Hut underscore her proficiency in driving brand awareness and customer engagement strategies.

15. Elizabeth Baxter, Torchy’s Tacos

As Chief People Officer at Torchy’s Tacos, Elizabeth Baxter leverages her 4 years of experience to drive culture initiatives and people engagement while also running the brand’s Torchy’s Family Foundation, which funds disaster and humanitarian relief. Her experience includes notable contributions to organizations like Make-A-Wish and Forbes HR Council.

16. Gracie Prasanson, Jason's Deli

Gracie Prasanson, Vice President of Sales at Jason’s Deli, leads the sales department in growing B2B sales and off-premise relationships. She facilitates catering sales strategies for over 150 locations across 28 states. With 30 years of experience in the industry, Gracie's has an impressive track record, listing brands like IHOP, Cracker Barrel, and Denny’s. 

17. Julie Wade, Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe

Julie Wade, Senior Director of Marketing at Taziki's, brings extensive experience from her 7 year tenure at Yogurt Mountain Franchising. While leading at Tazikis, she also holds an advisory role at Networld Media Group, a leading business-to-business media communications company.

18. Jennifer Bell, Lettuce Entertain You 

Jennifer Bell, Chief Marketing Officer and Partner at Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, brings over two decades of marketing experience to her role and oversees all marketing initiatives at the brand. Advising as a Board Member at Culinary Care, Jennifer aids the organization in its efforts to bring healthier and happier lives to cancer patients through food. 

19. Jennifer Saunders-Haynes, Subway

Jennifer Saunders-Haynes, with over 15 years in the hospitality industry, currently serves as Director of Global Catering at Subway. Recognized for her role in implementing ezCater at over 13,000 Subway locations, she's credited with capturing substantial incremental revenue for the brand. Jennifer's memberships in ForbesBLK and the Women’s Foodservice Forum underscore her commitment to industry advancement and diversity.

20. Jillian Wheeler, Sweetgreen

Jillian Wheeler, Creative Director at Sweetgreen, brings over a decade of experience in creative direction and design to her role. Her innovative campaigns and diverse background in CPG contribute to Sweetgreen's brand identity and well-renowned customer engagement.

21. Joanna Bonder, Zaxby's

Joanna Bonder, Sr. Director at Zaxby’s Franchising, specializes in loyalty and digital channel marketing. With over a decade of experience at coffee giant, Dunkin’, Joanna's expertise drives customer engagement strategies at Zaxby’s.

22. Jodie Stetz, Red Robin

Jodie Stetz, Chief People and Culture Officer at Red Robin, has dedicated over two decades to fostering a positive workplace culture. Her leadership has, and continues to be, instrumental in supporting over 2,200 team members across 500 locations.

23. Katie Walker Rankin, Landry's 

Katie Walker Rankin, VP of Off-Premise Operations at Landry’s, taps into 16 years of experience in restaurant operations. Responsible for the off-premise operations team that supports 500+ properties, 50+ brands, all digital ordering channels, and the brand’s virtual portfolio, Katie makes an impactful contribution to the brands growth. 

24. Kelly Cooke, Salsarita's

Kelly Cooke, Chief Marketing Officer at Salsarita’s, is recognized for her expertise in digital loyalty programs and marketing strategies. Her accolades, including 9 years with Salsarita’s and recognition by QSR Magazine and Nation’s Restaurant News, underscore her influence in the industry.

25. Kim DeCarolis, Craveworthy Brands

Kim DeCarolis, SVP of Strategic Growth at Craveworthy Brands, has a track record of driving sales and growth strategies. With previous roles at FAT Brands, Punchh, and PathSpot, Kim brings over 13 years of expertise in partnerships, revenue growth, and leadership.

26. Leslie Barr, Chicken Salad Chick

With a decade of experience in growing catering sales at leading brands, Leslie Barr, Director of Company Marketing & Catering at Chicken Salad Chick, oversees the growth of catering operations and engagement initiatives. Her previous roles include leadership positions at Moe’s Southwest Grill and The Honey Baked Ham.

27. Mary Jane Riva, Pizza Factory

Mary Jane Riva, CEO of Pizza Factory, has dedicated over three decades to the brand's growth and success. Under her leadership, Pizza Factory has received numerous accolades, including Franchise Business Review’s “Top Franchises Satisfaction” award six years in a row.

28. Melissa Heidman, Noodles & Company 

Melissa Heidman, Executive VP and General Counsel at Noodles & Company, has over a decade of experience in legal counsel within the restaurant sector. Her leadership is integral to the brand's legal and operational success across its 450+ locations.

29. Robin Robison, Modern Restaurant Concepts

Robin Robison, Chief Operating Officer at Modern Restaurant Concepts, brings 5 years of leadership experience to her role. As a member of the Food Tech Council at Lunchbox and an Advisory Council Member at RLC, Robin is dedicated to driving innovation and operational excellence in the restaurant industry.

30. Tana Davila, Dutch Bro’s 

Tana Davila, Chief Marketing Officer at Dutch Bro’s Coffee, possesses over 20 years of experience in consumer packaged foods, foodservice, and leading brands across both franchise and corporate business models. Her leadership at Dutch Bro’s reflects her commitment to driving brand growth and innovation, tapping on her previous experience at CKE and P.F. Changs. Tana also holds a spot on the Advisory Board of Technomic.

Congratulations to our Top 30 Women in Food

Wrapping up the Top 30 Women in Food List for 2024, this year's nominees and winners were nothing short of inspiring. We hope this list ignites ambition and confidence within the women we share this space with, to continue to shape the future of the restaurant and hospitality industry. 

Congratulations to this year’s list honorees, and a special shoutout to our Top 30 Women in Food alumni. To view the past year’s lists, click here


Lunchbox opens up nominations annually to source 60 final nominees that enter a voting round for our Top 30 Women in Food industry list. Each round, both nominations and voting, is open for two weeks for public submissions. Once public votes are collected, candidates are evaluated and selected based on public popularity.

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