Staten Island, NY – Pamela Silvestri, food editor at Staten Island Advance/SILive.com, was recently accepted into Les Dames Descoffiers, a prestigious organization for women in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. I was.
Founded in 1976, the organization was inspired by the all-male group Les Amis d’Escoffier to create a space for women in the male-dominated food industry. The organization has chapters in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Boston, according to its website.
The organization says its mission is “to inspire, advance and empower women in the food, beverage and hospitality sectors to achieve leadership and philanthropic excellence.”
“What I love about them is the way they embrace the mentality of mentoring,” explains Silvestri.
One of her own personal mentors is Amy Zavat, the first Staten Islander to join Les Dames and author of numerous cookbooks. Zavatto encouraged her Silvestri to apply to the organization.
Silvestri is the former owner of American Grill, Staten Island’s first Michelin-starred restaurant.
With family roots in the restaurant business, a native of Staten Island, she studied architecture and urban planning at Bryn Maa College, but always knew she would be in the food business.
“I have a lot of experience in the foodservice industry from the bottom up,” comments Silvestri.
“Many people think the restaurant business is glamorous, but the reality is that you have to come from a very diverse background, from knowledge of plumbing and electrical systems to food presentation.”
After returning to Staten Island after college, Silvestri met her now husband, David Cavagnaro, and they partnered to start a company that would serve restaurant-grade food in the cafeteria of the local Catholic school.
“Staten Island Advance did a food review for our cafeteria, which kind of pushed our company into another stratosphere,” she said.
From there, he opened the Michelin/Zagat-rated American Grill, a much-loved restaurant with caricatures of its loyal customers hanging on the walls. In 2006, the couple sold the restaurant before starting a family.
Silvestri was then offered a position at Advance, where he had previously worked as a teenager. “I fell in love with the variety of foods that came to Staten Island.”
She thanked the female food editors before her at the Advance, including Jane Mirza, who passed away last year. Worth it. Always.”
Silvestri recently received a New York News Publishers Association award for her distinguished beat reporting, excellent coverage of the Staten Island restaurant scene, and her credited column writing for Pamela’s Food Service Diary.
Now Silvestri says of Les Dame: [an opportunity to] Share your knowledge in a different way. “