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Les Dames d’Escoffier South Florida was founded in February 2017. Our first three years were filled with great successes. We had many beautiful fundraising events, the last one on the day before Covid shut the country down. We pivoted to hosting fun, educational Zoom classes. To honor our namesake Auguste Escoffier, we have hosted several French-themed dinners including our highly successful French Connection Dinner on Escoffier’s birthday in October 2020, a community outreach event supporting local French restaurants during the pandemic. We promoted French restaurants in South Florida by offering special prix-fixe dinner menus for take-out or for dining in the restaurants. Then we all met on Zoom to share our dinner.

In our first year, we raised enough money to present a scholarship to Marie Franks, which Marie used to pay her tuition in her final year at FAU in Boca Raton, FL. She graduated in May 2020, and is exploring job possibilities in the field of wine. We have also provided partial funding to send a delegate to every LDEI Annual Conference since our founding, and last year we partially funded two delegates’ attendance at the LDEI Conference in Nashville, TN. We were also $500 Conference Patrons. 

We are moving forward into 2021 with a great legacy and great promise. As one of the youngest and most active chapters in the LDEI organization, we are recognized as a chapter “that is doing great things.” We are planning to present another scholarship in 2021. Through our involvement in LDEI’s Global Culinary Initiative, we’ll continue learning about the culinary cultures of other countries. We’ve had several educational Zoom events featuring food, wine and champagne in locations such as Brittany, Lyon, Provence, Paris, Tuscany, Greece, and the British countryside. 

Board of Directors

Ann Stratte, President

Ann Stratte is an accomplished culinary professional with a diverse background in catering, food sales, and personal chef services. Her journey began with a formal education at Carlton College (Northfield MN), University of Minnesota, and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Upon returning to Minneapolis, she founded C’est Bon, a catering company that specialized in intimate and upscale dinner parties.

Subsequently, Ann transitioned into the corporate arena, starting with General Mills and devoting 25 years to food sales. Her expertise lay in the private label sector, which earned her numerous accolades and an extensive network of professional contacts. Despite multiple relocations, Ann remained committed to her passion for culinary arts and continued to explore new opportunities.

Eventually, Ann settled in Annapolis, MD, where she launched "My Personal Chef," a bespoke catering and personal chef business. Her clientele consisted mainly of non-profit organizations and high-profile diplomats in Washington DC. Ann's reputation as a culinary maestro spread quickly, and she soon became a charter member of the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier International (LDEI) in 1996.

Ann's unwavering dedication to LDEI led her to transfer her membership to the DC chapter, where she served on the board for many years and held several leadership roles. She was the chapter's president and the chairman of the 2017 conference, which drew widespread acclaim from participants worldwide. Ann also served on the Les Dames d'Escoffier International board in various capacities, including as its president in 2019.

In 2021, Ann and her husband moved to Stuart, Florida, where they reside with their beloved Cairn Terrier, Bear.

Marie-Charlotte Piro, Vice President

Marie-Charlotte Piro is a French-born entrepreneur who started her career in luxury real estate in New York and Miami. In 2007, she became involved in a family-run premium extra virgin olive oil production in Tuscany, Italy, as a silent investor, and later became a strategic advisor, marketing director, and importer/distributor in the USA. She founded and currently serves as the CEO of Olio Piro. LLC, overseeing worldwide marketing efforts and brand collaborations with top chefs, food writers, and retail partners. She manages the brand's e-commerce component and ensures the import process maintains the olive oil's signature fresh taste. 

Marie-Charlotte splits her time between Miami, Greenville SC, Lake George NY, and Italy, and enjoys cooking, hiking, and dining. 

Gina Castaldo Natoli, Secretary

Gina Castaldo Natoli is a Miami-based caterer, culinary instructor and culinary tour guide for Miami Culinary Tours in the South Beach, Little Havana, Midtown and Wynwood neighborhoods. Her tours were voted “Best Culinary Tours” in the city!

She was the co-owner of Anima Restaurant, New York for five years. Gina attended Pace University in New York City and honed her culinary education in New York and Miami. As a culinary educator, Gina taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma for ten years (2000-2010), where she developed and tested new recipes for the corporation. She was also a sales representative for All-Clad cooking utensils in Miami’s Williams Sonoma stores where she was one of the store's highest producers.

For the past seventeen years, Gina has been the co-owner of Seventh Heaven Catering in Miami, orchestrating artfully-appointed culinary events with her sister-in-law, Claire Natoli. Their catering business includes full-service menu planning, wine pairings, shopping, flower arranging, invitation and menu graphic design, table settings, chef services and cleanup. Noted clients include Andrea Bocelli and a former governor of Virginia. Her abilities include culinary Internet writing and food styling. 

Kim Miller, Treasurer 

Kim Miller is an experienced professional in promotional, marketing, and public relations management, with over 30 years of experience leading PR and marketing teams for organizations of all sizes, including Pollo Tropical and Burger King Corporation. Her experience includes overseeing media relations for new product innovations, promotions, crisis communications, consumer communications, and corporate relations, with extensive knowledge of company-owned and franchised systems. She has received numerous awards and honors for QSR media launch campaigns and crisis communications responses. 

Miller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Florida International University and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University. She is also the founder of Ink Link Marketing, a boutique PR agency dedicated to the food industry.

Irene Moore, Past President

Co-Founder of the South Florida Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Irene is a culinary and wine journalist and content creator, specializing in food, wine and travel. She has interviewed many culinary and wine notables, and her feature articles have appeared in more than 30 print publications and websites in the United States and Europe.

At Where/Morris Publications, she was Editor-in-Chief for 10 years of three Florida-based magazines including Where South Florida, and was Editor-in-Chief of more than 30 editions of Where GuestBooks, hardcover guidebooks about Florida locales. Prior to moving to Florida, she lived in New York where she was a spokesperson for W Magazine and for five years had a monthly column, The Personal Shopper, about haute couture fashion and luxury travel. She also frequently wrote for W’s sister publication, Women’s Wear Daily.

Her credentials include an MBA in Marketing, Fordham University Gabelli School of Business, New York; certification in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton; Mastery of Wine and Advanced Sommelier Certification from Florida International University Chaplain School of Hospitality, Miami; and an Honorary Fellowship at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, Napa Valley.

Denise Courshon Weisberg, Director-at-Large

Denise Courshon’s career spans the worlds of haute couture fashion, upscale hotels, Miami City Ballet and Florida Grand Opera. The first half of her career was in public relations and marketing for several of the most prestigious fashion houses worldwide as well as major retailers in the fashion and beauty industries. The second half of her career has focused on event planning, primarily for two significant South Florida cultural arts organizations, the Florida Grand Opera and Miami City Ballet.

At the Florida Grand Opera and Miami City Ballet, she directed all income-producing activities, and designed menus with wine pairings for annual events including opening night galas. As Director of Membership at Grove Isle Club, she created a monthly newsletter, orchestrated James Beard Foundation dinners, and brought in Christies’ ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ New World Symphony, and Sotheby’s NYC Latin America Art Auction Preview. She has entertained visiting celebrities performing at Coconut Grove Playhouse and organized celebrity tennis tournaments in Miami. 

Today, Denise helms her own event planning and consulting business in Miami, as President and CEO of Denise Courshon Consulting. She accepts selected short-term projects and offers counseling in fundraising strategies for special events.

Annie Hall, Director-at-Large

Annie Hall is a highly respected figure in the Specialty Food Industry, having founded her namesake Specialty Food Brokerage over two decades ago. Starting with a focus on Deli perishables and Bakery lines in the Florida and Caribbean Export Markets, Annie's business grew and evolved into representing hundreds of companies across various markets throughout her career. Her strength has always been introducing new specialty products to both the Retail and Food Service segments, making her a trailblazer in the industry.

Annie is known for being a pioneer in the Gourmet Housewares industry in the 1980s, launching many of the major gourmet cookware lines that remain leaders today. As she followed the trends, she began selling gourmet ingredients, which were in high demand as the cooking industry exploded. Representing such a vast array of companies has been her forte and passion, and her skills at understanding how different markets work have made her highly regarded by her peers and business partners. Recently, Annie has reduced the lines she represents to offer consulting and support services to those who are new to the Specialty Food Industry. With her vast experience and hands-on background, she is well-prepared to mentor those in need of information and knowledgeable guidance.

Annie Hall lives a bi-coastal lifestyle, splitting her time between Boca Raton, FL and San Francisco to be with her daughter, son-in-law, and two young grandchildren while still working.

Juana Franklin, Director-at-Large

Juana Franklin has had an extensive career in hotel sales and marketing, and her family is deeply entrenched in the hotel business, owning and managing Marriott and Hilton franchise hotels through their company, Pinnacle Hotel Management. In addition to her successful career in hotels, Juana was also involved in the custom home flipping business until her recent retirement.

When she's not working, Juana loves to travel and explore new places, often attending cooking classes and enjoying food and wine. She also volunteers as a mentor for Take Stock in Children and enjoys spending quality time with her daughter, son, and their families, including her two beautiful grandchildren who are 1 1/2 and 2 months old. Her passion for travel and love of family and community make her a well-rounded and dynamic individual.

Barbara Seelig Beyer, Director-at-Large

Barbara Seelig Beyer is a highly respected chef, culinary educator, author, and TV host who has made significant contributions to the world of cooking. She is best known for her Stress Free Cooking® brand, which encompasses a TV show, book, website, and blog that teaches home cooks how to prepare delicious meals without stress. Her passion for cooking and desire to share her experiences led to the creation of Stress Free Cooking. Barbara is a prolific cookbook author and has written several books for the American Diabetes Association, including award-winning titles. Her food and wine articles have appeared in various prestigious publications. 

Barbara continues to teach cooking and yoga classes and is an active member of several professional associations. She has also represented multiple companies and products. Barbara's expertise, knowledge, and passion for cooking have made her a well-respected figure in the culinary world.

Our Fabulous South Florida Dames

Membership Inquiries 

Join Les Dames d'Escoffier South Florida

Are you professional women of good reputation and achievement?

Are you currently engaged in a career in food, fine beverages, or the hospitality industry?

Have you been active in your chosen field for a minimum of 5 years?

Do you desire to be part of an international network of professionals working in these fields?

If so, consider joining our educational and philanthropic journey. 

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