Celebrating Women: CT Chefs + Restaurateurs

We thought it’d be cool to celebrate some of the rock star women chefs & restaurateurs in our state. So, we hopped in the car and visited the following 10 culinary queens in their workspaces to snap some pics, ask them how they do what they do, and eat!

To say we admire these women is an understatement. They were braising, chopping, pouring, stirring, shaking, and whipping things up in front of our eyes while we asked questions and took pics. Without ever missing a beat!

They’re passionate about food and we’re passionate about eating….making this one of our favorite posts to date…

Annie Wayte – White Hart Inn

(Salisbury) Annie Wayte hails from England and has an impressive resume. Treat yourself to a beautiful drive in the country ending with lunch or dinner on the porch or in the taproom of this beautiful inn.


Favorite thing to cook?

Anything fresh that screams “eat me”! I love creating bright, fresh, and boldly flavored vegetables, salads, and side dishes and look forward to what each season brings to the table.

What inspired your passion for food?

My parents weren’t necessarily great or adventurous cooks but the table offerings were always tasty, generous, and well-executed. Sunday lunch often lasted multiple hours providing a great platform for convivial gatherings with friends and family. I wanted to contribute and so my grandmother taught me to cook from an early age. I started reading cookbooks and food magazines and clearly remember being fascinated with the TV show Take Six Cooks which showcased high-profile ‘bad-boy’ chefs in action in their restaurant kitchens. I was hooked! 

How would you sum up the food you cook at the White Hart?

The menus at the White Hart are unfussy and ingredient-driven thanks to the abundance of incredible local farms. English classics such as Fish and Chips, a nod towards both head chef Paul Pearson and me growing up in England, feature on the menu alongside more modern, creative dishes such as house-smoked duck, mission figs with pickled onions and saba. Most of our food is made in-house and often showcases a zero-waste ‘nose-to-tail attitude. 

Patty Laure – Meraki

(Litchfield) This is a frequent stopping place for us when we want a quick bite of something exciting, yummy, fresh, and pretty (in equal parts).

Favorite thing to cook?

I love to cook and I love to bake. I love it all, there are no favorites and I find joy in it all!

What inspired your passion for food?

I have always loved to cook and grew up in a large family where dinners were a nightly gathering. Our house is always full with friends and family. I actually started my career in an office but went back to school for culinary in my 20s because I missed it so much. Food is love, in my opinion.

How would you sum up the food you cook at Meraki?

Meraki is an “all-day cafe” serving seasonal food. We serve street food style food, sandwiches, burritos, taco bowls, vegan, gluten-free, local meats, vegetables, breakfast, to-go dinners, house-made sweets, breads, tortillas!

Calin Sauvron – Notch 8 + Note Kitchen & Bar

(Bethel) We will never forget the incredible pizza Chef Calin created in front of our eyes in what seemed like 2 seconds flat. Also, she won the last season of Food Network’s Chopped. Cool!

Executive Chef/Partner
Favorite thing to cook?

Asian-inspired dishes due to their wide range of diverse flavors and cooking techniques. I love to get inspired by different cultural foods. It gives me the opportunity to learn new ways of cooking, new flavors, and gives me a chance to learn about different cultures.

What inspired your passion for food?

I was supposed to attend a technical high school for culinary but chose to stay in public school. In school, I found my love for art and chose that as my original career path. I continued to find myself working in restaurants and kitchens and felt more of a bond to the kitchen than I did to art. I feel that my art background helps me create colorful eye-catching plates. 

How would you sum up the food you cook at your restaurants?

The food at Note is diverse. I feel there is something on the menu for everyone from the adventurous eater to someone with a simpler palate looking for a good burger or wings. The food at Notch 8 is a New American bar and pizza. We focus on wood-fired food and pizza. All meats used on the menu are also smoked in-house. It’s a mixed vibe of a sports bar & a beautiful patio with a tiki hut. 

Debora Dividino – Capers Too! Deli

(Danbury) We love @portuguese_chef! Go here when you want delicious deli food with a good helping of Portuguese flavors (do not forget to order the pickled fries & cheese curds!!).

Favorite thing to cook?

Comfort food, stews, soups, especially “Carne de Porco Alentejana”, Portuguese pork stew.

What inspired your passion for food?

I grew up in a family that makes every meal a special occasion to enjoy each other. Where I come from we all sit together to have a meal cooked by our moms or grandmas especially at dinner time. My inspiration was them, both my Mom and my Grandma’s houses always smell amazing. When I started helping them and cooking with them, best time of my life!

How would you sum up the food you cook at Capers, Too!?

At my gourmet deli, we cook breakfast through lunch. Mostly sandwiches, salads, and soups. We focus on good food for fast meals using always fresh and great quality ingredients.

Anne McClelland – The First Bite Catering

(Brookfield) If you’ve been to any of our parties, you’ve eaten The First Bite Catering! Anne offers customized catering for events, dinner parties, wine tastings, and cooking classes!

Favorite thing to cook?

Anything that puts a smile on someone’s face. But if I had to be specific, my Grandmother’s meatballs. I have an angel in the kitchen whenever I make them!

What inspired your passion for food?

Coming from an Italian family food has always been a focus.  I would say Sunday dinners at my Grandmother’s inspired me. Bringing people together over a wonderful meal, creates great memories.

How would you sum up the food you cook at The First Bite?

Fresh! We purchase ingredients and prepare each item from scratch for each event or order. We offer customized menus to make each event more personal.

Judith Post Roll – Tabouli Grill + Judy’s Bar & Kitchen

(Stamford) We’ve decided that we need to do another Yummy (and unique) fries post now that we’ve discovered Tabouli’s chicken garlic fries. Nomgasmic. Delicious Israeli and Middle Eastern menu!

Favorite thing to cook?

Impossible to answer.  That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child!  But I really love cooking holiday foods.  At Tabouli it is my grandmother’s brisket, kugel, chicken soup, and matzo balls. At Judy’s it’s creating Southern holiday meals; house cured and smoked hams, smoked turkeys, cornbread stuffing, and bourbon pecan pies.  

What inspired your passion for food?

I have just always loved food. Eating, cooking, reading, researching – everything about it!

How would you sum up the food you cook at your restaurant?

I like unfussy food that is homey and deeply satisfies your soul.  Food that you come back to time and time again.  Food that you remember. I love to feed people.  

Colleen Morgan & Alison Davis – Wild Alchemy

(Wallingford) And also coming soon to Southington & Avon! We’re so excited to have unlocked Wild Alchemy. Our bodies thank us every time for the “organic, fresh, high vibe food”. ??

Alison Davis CFO/COO + Colleen Morgan Founder/CEO

Favorite thing to prepare?

While I love the art of preparing all plant-based foods, my passion is in making raw desserts. I’ve had a sweet tooth my whole life and when I eliminated sugar, dairy, and wheat from my life in 2008 I was seriously deprived of all decadent treats. It wasn’t until 2010 that I was introduced to raw/plant-based desserts. The art of blending whole, potent, nutrient-dense, mineral-rich ingredients that taste like heaven and look like a dream is beyond satisfying.

What inspired your passion for food?

I wasn’t always a foodie. When I made the radical change to my diet 13 years ago, after eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) my entire life, I was left with a very boring menu of what I could put on my plate. As I began to learn about the limitless ways to prepare plant-based ingredients and the form they could take in certain dishes the more passionate I became. 

How would you sum up the food you prepare at your cafe?

I always say you cannot make a “wrong” choice on our menu. Every item was crafted specifically to enhance your health AND your pleasure. I am very passionate about using food as medicine, meaning using food to heal and upgrade your current state of health. Our food is considered “intelligent” food. The foods on our menu have very few ingredients, but the ingredients they do have all have a purpose in healing and lending to the body’s innate wisdom to be healthy and alive. And did I mention the taste?

Rebeca Tuinei & Vanessa Sena – Nala’s Kitchen

(CT) Rebeca & Vanessa are creating nutritious meals-to-go and delivering throughout the state, making good food for people with busy lives. Vegan, vegetarian, kosher, comfort, GF – they have it all covered!

Favorite thing to cook?

  • Chef Beca: Depends on my mood. Lately, I have been enjoying making fresh gluten-free pasta at home. Nothing like fresh pasta!!
  • Vanessa: My new favorite things to make are our healthy cupcakes. They’re gluten-free, sugar-free, and made with real fruits, vegetables, & superfoods!

What inspired your passion for food?

  • Chef Beca: When I was in the music industry I would travel and try many “trendy” restaurants. Experiencing great fusion foods inspired me to make a career change and enter the food industry. 
  • Vanessa: I decided I wanted to be a pastry chef when I visited Japan. I saw the beautiful streamlined desserts with pops of color and designs I had never seen before. I realized that pastry can be art! 

How would you sum up the food you cook at Nala’s Kitchen?

The food we make is a healthy twist on the comforting classics that we all grew up with. Chef Beca makes your favorite savory meals like Eggplant Lasagna and Lemon Caper Salmon and I make sweet treats like our Strawberry Beet Velvet Cupcakes and our Almond Joy Date Truffles.

Use our code: UNLOCK15 to try them out and get 15% off your first-time purchase. Good until May 1st, 2021. For individual meals only.

Words: Bev + contributed / Pics: Lora

CT Chefs + Restaurateurs has been sponsored

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