Upcoming in 2019 at I’ll Have What She’s Having…
Mother’s Day by Choice: Lucky Cat Brunch 2019
Sunday, May 5th, 10:30 AM - 1:30 PM at Ralph Smith Photo Studios
IHWSH invites you to our Inaugural Lucky Cat Brunch, featuring hand-crafted bites and beverages by a cadre of star chefs, cocktail wunderkinds and event professionals, featuring local artisanal produce and products.
This year's event features Live Music by Kristine Mills and a curated Silent Auction.
One week BEFORE Mother's Day, we kick off a celebration of Texas Women - Moms, unMoms, future Moms - with a toast to a World in which Women Choose the If, When, and How of Motherhood!
Lucky Cat proceeds will benefit IHWSH and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, provider of essential health care services for working women, including women in our industry. We offer a 10% discount for Moms of the restaurant industry and the Moms of hospitality employees - we know you probably have to work that OTHER holiday - we're claiming THIS DAY for you.
Discount Code: CallMeMom
Your 2019 Lucky Cat Team:
Tina Blanco ∙ Layne Cruz ∙ Mary Cuclis ∙ Shiva Patel DiVirgilio ∙ Natasha Douglas ∙ Dory Fung ∙ Evelyn Garcia ∙ Keisha Bocage Griggs ∙ Elizabeth Harbour ∙ Laurie Harvey ∙ Jojo Martinez ∙ Benchawan Jabthong Painter ∙ Alexandra Pena ∙ Kris Sowell ∙ Valerie Trasatti ∙ Fah Vorarittinapa ∙ Leonora Varvoutis ∙ And More! ∙
Chef Tina Blanco
Chef Tina has worked almost entirely at AAA Five Diamond properties and luxury boutique hotels, including Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Omni Houston Hotel, The River Oaks Country Club, Hotel ZaZa and Rainbow Lodge. She discovered an affinity for opening projects and ventured nationwide to launch the pastry operations at a myriad high profile locations such as the Wit in Chicago and The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas. Chef Tina was recruited to manage Scott Conant's acclaimed restaurants Scarpetta and D.O.C.G Enoteca in NYC, and was then engaged to lead pastry teams at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. Returning to her hometown of Houston, Chef Tina is a partner and pastry chef in the upcoming Magnol French Baking, and looks forward to continuing as a member and participant in IHWSH events.
Chef Shiva Patel DiVirgilio
Shiva Patel – Di Virgilio was born and raised in London, England and credits her parents and her Indian-East African heritage as major culinary influences. While she has always had a passion for food, Shiva first earned a Master’s in Business from the University of Houston and enjoyed a successful career as a commercial real estate banker. She exercised her culinary muscles by attending culinary school at the Art Institute and contributing to BiBi magazine. In 2007, she left the business world to work alongside her husband, Chef Rick DiVigilio at OPORTO Wine Bar. The culinary couple then opened the acclaimed London-style gastropub, The Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen and OPORTO Fooding House & Wine, a Portuguese-inspired restaurant in Midtown. While planning the reincarnation of The Queen Vic, Chef Shiva is enjoying taking care of their baby, Tiago, yoga and cooking at home, and is proud to lend her talents and experience to IHWSH.
Chef Keisha Bocage Griggs
Hailing from the Caribbean, Chef Keisha Griggs realized her love for cooking at an early age. Within her Trinidadian heritage, good food always is always associated with great memories. After earning her degree from the Arts Institute Culinary Arts program, she worked alongside some of Houston's most prestigious chefs, honing her techniques in classic French, Asian, and New American cuisine, with exposure to vegetarian and vegan menus. She then launched Bocage Catering, which exhibits her roots in Trinidad and the culinary influences on that land from France, India, Africa and Venezuela. A passion for local and sustainable food sourcing and a commitment to community inspires a desire to share what she knows. She's been committed to teaching classes on sustainable and healthy eating to all ages, from pre-teens to grandmothers. Chef Keisha now offers seasonal lunch offerings and catering at her boutique kitchen and event space in Montrose, Lunch at Ate.
Chef ‘G’ Benchawan Jabthong
Chef Benchawan was born and raised in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, where she began working at her grandmother's restaurant at the age of 6! Thai food and cooking were integral to her childhood. She arrived in Houston in 2015 and worked in the esteemed kitchens of SaltAire and Oxheart before launching her pop-up event company, Street to Kitchen Thai Food, which has received rave reviews from attendees. Chef Benchawan is proud to join with IHWSH for the inaugural Lucky Cat brunch and looks forward to sharing her dumpling - making prowess with our fortunate attendees.
Beverage Director Kris Sowell
Kris Sowell is an East Texas native who came to the big city over a decade ago, launching beverage programs at some of our city’s most prestigious establishments. She took a hiatus from food and beverage to be NASA dive instructor and was welcomed back with open arms as a brand representative with a well loved Texas vodka brand 4 ½ years ago, a position that allows her to embrace her love of travel, people and gorgeous cocktails. Her love of all things pretty has won her many local accolades and awards in the beverage world. Kris has led many events as a beverage director with IHWSH, including the Something for Everyone culinary festival for women's health and the #WellWeek initiative, raising awareness about mental health and wellness in the beverage industry.
General Manager Layne Cruz
Layne Cruz is a founding member of IHWSH and has led nearly every event since the group's inception in 2017. Layne gained culinary experience at A Fare Extraordinaire, Ava & Alto, before moving to the dining room at Coltivare, and rising to the position of general manager at Revival Market. “I joined up with IHWSH from the very beginning. Planned Parenthood has been my doctor, and my mother’s doctor and my friends’ doctor for years. Their medical care is top notch. I hope to help grow this event into an annual, nation-wide party, spotlighting just how many women in the US depend on Planned Parenthood for annual preventative medical care.”
Chef Natasha Douglas
Chef Natasha Douglas is a native Houstonian who left to explore the flavors of the world, training in France, San Francisco, Spain, Vietnam, New York, Uruguay and Mexico before returning to Houston. Her main focus is pastry, but she loves the savory side as well. She is an oenophile, a turophile, and a devout chocoholic!
General Manager Elizabeth Harbour
Elizabeth Harbour spent 24 years with Whole Foods Market, immersed in the grass roots culture. She developed her service leadership style over the last ten years before coming to her current post as GM of Dunlavy Kitchen. She's proud to be a part of IHWSH and looks forward to fostering an organization that seeks to support and develop women leaders in Houston hospitality.
Bar Star JoJo Martinez
Jojo Martinez is a hospitality veteran and consultant. She has won numerous national flair, speed, and craft bartending competitions. In 2013, Jojo started jmartiniservices.com to express her creative work, service, and techniques. Her team of hospitality professionals includes guild members and award winners, providing full consulting and event services .
Chef Valerie Trasatti
Valerie Trasatti is a trained graphic designer who learned to bake while living in Russia in her early twenties. She gained a loyal Houston following as she honed her craft at Crave Cupcakes and Revival Market. Her Benevento Bake Shop, named for her inspiring great-great-grandfather, a baker from Italy, garnered critical acclaim. She is currently pastry chef at Coterie, and was honored with a nomination for Pastry Chef of the year by Culture Map Houston. Chef Valerie has volunteered at numerous IHWSH events, including Episodes 2 and 6 of A Taste of Things to Come pop-up series and the inaugural benefit, Something for Everyone.
General Manager Leonora Varvoutis
Leonora Varvoutis is a Houston native and alumnus of American University but credits her REAL education to time spent at Pappas’ restaurants, The Pass and Provisions, and Cherry Pie Hospitality, where she opened numerous outlets and served as General Manager for Star Fish. She has studied wine in Europe, with a focus on Old World wines in Alsatian tasting rooms and at the Banca del Vino in Italy’s Piedmont region. Leonora is a certified sommelier through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, and General Manager at Coltivare Pizza and Garden in the Heights. She is proud to lend her dining room powers to Lucky Cat 2019.
Chef Mary Cuclis
Mary Cuclis was born in Texas but spent most of her childhood living overseas. Growing up with her Greek family in London, Moscow and Hong Kong inspired a lifelong curiosity for a wide variety of cultures, and introduced the idea of cuisine as a cultural door. Her culinary career began in Hong Kong, working in Alvin Leung’s Bo Innovation. After returning to Houston, Mary was one of the opening team members of Pondicheri, where she has acquired a new set of cooking techniques as well as fluency in the breadth of Indian spices.
Chef Dory Fung
Chef Dory is a fifth generation restaurateur. She grew up in Fung’s Kitchen, the Cantonese restaurant which has been a beloved Houston institution for the last 29 years. Her work has garnered acclaim and awards via the pastry programs at stylish eateries like Yauatcha, Aqui, and Poitin. Her commitment to teaching and mentoring mirrors the goals of IHWSH. “The Houston food scene means so much to me and I feel like it’s a very small amount for me to do to help the new, younger, future chefs become the best chefs that they can be.”
Chef Evelyn Garcia
Evelyn Garcia was born and raised in Houston, Texas. As the eldest of three siblings, she grew up cooking for her younger brother and sister while her parents worked. Chef Evelyn graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY in 2010. Her first job, with Chef Jean-George’s Spice Market, reinforced a growing love of southeast Asian cuisine. Her culinary resume includes Singapore-focused Masak under Chef Larry Reutens and a sous-chef position at Kin Shop under Chef Harold Dieterele. She has traveled extensively throughout Asia, and pursued further experience by staging at some of the best restaurants in Thailand. She participated in the Food Network’s Chopped, where she was crowned Chopped Champion in the episode titled "All Burger Meal." Chef Evelyn is the owner-operator of Kin Concepts and the Chef in Residence at Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory.
Beverage Director Laurie Harvey
Laurie Harvey led the revered bar program at Triniti/Sanctuari, winning the My Table award for her team's accomplishments. She served as both beverage director and director of operations for Cherry Pie Hospitality, and in doing so, mentored many of the best known, up-and-coming beverage and front-of-house leaders in Houston. Laurie is partner in Ladies of Libation, a boutique beverage consulting agency, and serves as beverage director for IHWSH.
Chef Alexandra Pena
Chef Alexandra Pena was born in Houston, Texas with a passion for cooking. She studied at LeNotre culinary institute and has been at The Dunlavy since 2015, where she quickly moved up the ranks to her current position as sous chef, overseeing daily service and specialty evening events.
Chef Fah Vorarittinapa
Chef Fah’s reverence for the culinary arts began as a child. Growing up in the lush green hills of Thailand, Chef Fah’s fondest childhood memory is of sneaking out during naptime to watch the cooks in the school’s busy kitchen. She delighted in the synchrony of white aproned-cooks stirring steaming vats of boiling soups and the rhythmic chop, chop, chop of steel knives slicing through bright green vegetables with amazing speed. After moving to the US, she turned her back on a career in business to pursue a passion for cooking. She attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. In Houston, she counts her years with Chef Tim Keating at the Four Seasons and stints at Brennan’s and the Rustic Oak as well as The Dynasty in Temple, TX, as key influences on her career. She opened Lemongrass Café in Bellaire to instant acclaim; the restaurant has been an integral, beloved destination eatery for 15 years. Chef Fah is known for carefully inspecting every plate that returns to her kitchen with the same scrutiny as when the plate first went out. As she often says, a chef’s work isn’t a success until the plates come back empty!