Championing our Female Chef Partners

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we wanted to shine the spotlight on some of our incredibly talented female chef partners who constantly re-define success. These ladies use their gifts for cooking to bring people together. They have forged a path for other female chefs, and we are proud and grateful to work with such innovative culinary superstars. Some of these women include:

Female Chef Partner Victoria Dearmond

Victoria Dearmond, Pastry Director at Underbelly

If you’re walking down the streets of Houston, TX and smell the aromas of Southern Comfort food, it’s most likely Victoria Dearmond whipping up something magical at one of the Underbelly Hospitality establishments. Victoria has been a member of the Underbelly Hospitality team since it opened in 2012. In addition to managing the pastry departments for Underbelly Hospitality concepts, she’s also a sous chef and handles all the ordering for Underbelly Hospitality. She has won a slew of awards, such as being named an Eater Young Guns semifinalist and was crowned Eater Houston’s Pastry Chef of the Year. 

Victoria has created some aweSOOM pastries with Soom Premium Tahini and Soom Chocolate Sweet Tahini, most notably, these Crispy Chocolate Tahini Cookies. She loves using Soom Tahini for its versatility and how it adds depth to her dishes. 

Ana Chef Partner

Ana Sortun, Executive Chef at Oleana, Sarma, and Sofra Bakery & Cafe

If you are drawn to the rich flavor that Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines celebrate, let us introduce you to Ana Sortun’s restaurants: Sofra Bakery and Cafe, Sarma, and Oleana, all located in Cambridge, MA. Ana has been named the Best Chef Northeast by the James Beard Foundation, was a James Beard semi-finalist for Outstanding Chef, and is the author of two cookbooks. She gained many of her special talents while training in Paris!

You’ll notice that Ana and her wonderful staff incorporate Soom Tahini (and Soom Silan!) into their menus across their different restaurants. They create exciting offerings like Spinach Falafel, Carrot Tahini Soup, and Chocolate Tahini Tart. Chef Sortun was even kind enough to share her beloved recipe for Tahini Creamed Greens in our CEO’s cookbook, The Tahini Table! Ana takes this Middle Eastern staple and transforms humble greens into a mouthwatering side dish. We applaud her for her work with Oldways Preservation Trust, a non-profit that helps to foster good health by supporting the cultural food traditions of the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Charleen Badman Chef Partner

Charleen Badman, Chef & Co-Owner at FnB

Next time you’re in Scottsdale, AZ, you must head to the award-winning restaurant, FnB. Charleen Badman, chef and co-owner of FnB, has received countless accolades including winning James Beard’s Best Chef of the Southwest, Top Ten Dish from Food & Wine Magazine, and Best Restaurateurs by the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame. She considers herself a “veggie whisperer” due to her ability to create meals focused around vegetables. Her veggie-focused dishes are bursting with flavor (and tahini!). There is no shortage of creative ways Chef Charleen uses tahini on her menu, including as the base of her ice cream. Take it from Chef Badman herself silan is the best topping for any ice cream sundae due to its deep, caramel-like flavor. She also adds silan to her roasted beet puree, building layers of sweet and earthy flavors for a perfectly balanced dish. 

Besides cooking tasty meals, Charleen has a passion for philanthropy and founded Blue Watermelon Project at Slow Food Phoenix. Through this program, she fosters her love for gardening while educating children on the power of creating better eating habits. Through gardening projects and school lunch programs, the Blue Watermelon Project helps to make wholesome foods available to everyone.

Kismet Chef Partners

Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson, Chefs and Co-Owners of Kismet LA

You’d probably expect to run into some celebrities when exploring Hollywood, but you’ll also find some of the best cuisine! Kismet LA aims to bring Mediterranean flavors to CA. On their menu, you can find an always-changing selection based on what local farmers are producing. Kismet is owned by Chefs Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson. Together, their restaurant earned a James Beard nomination for Best New Restaurant and received an award for Eater’s Chefs of the Year. Their menu focuses on highlighting veggies in a Mediterranean style. You can find tahini in a variety of options such as salads, sandwiches, and baked goods.

Sara and Sarah hope to use their platform to create change in the world. That is why they are involved in multiple local charities and operate their restaurant with a gratuity-free model, ensuring employees receive living wages.

Zarah Chef Partners

Zarah Khan, Chef at Botanica 

Nestled in Silver Lake, Los Angeles you can find the amazing restaurant and market, Botanica. All-star founders, Heather Sperling and Emily Fiffer, enlisted Chef Zarah Khan to bring good vibes and fantastic food to their kitchen. As a teenager, Zarah started the tradition of cooking family dinners. She carried that tradition with her to Botanica, where their philosophy is that gathering around the table is a unifying experience and one of the greatest joys in life.

Zarah loves cooking because of the connection it holds between her friends and family. She believes that cooking grounds her. She loves cooking with tahini because of the infinite ways it can be used in the kitchen! Some of her favorites ways to use it are drizzling it over fruit and granola and mixing it with garlic and lemon juice for a tasty hummus.

Sister Pie

Lisa Ludwinski, Head Baker

In Detroit’s West Village on the east side of town, you will find Sister Pie. This innovative bakery serves rustic baked goods including dynamic pies, cookies, breakfast, and lunch. Before Sister Pie became the renowned foodery it is today, Lisa Ludwinski was selling cakes she baked at her home to friends and family for Thanksgiving. Ever since Sister Pie has been at the forefront of innovation. As evidenced in the celebrated Sister Pie cookbook Lisa showcases decadent uses for tahini in her pies and demonstrates how it can level up any recipe!

Lisa started Sister Pie with the vision to continue to inspire women, and she certainly has accomplished that goal! She is grateful for the community she has built and recognizes the importance of giving back. Sister Pie works to lessen their carbon footprint by composting food scraps via Midtown Composting and using compostable and biodegradable packaging.

Liliana Myers

Liliana Myers, Pastry Chef at Safta

If you need a little break while exploring the Rocky Mountains, stop by Safta in Denver, CO. Safta was created to build a comfortable space where people could feel safe and nurtured. Attracted by that philosophy, Liliana Myers soon became the Pastry Chef at Safta. Liliana had always known her passion was in pastry. Early in her career, while living in France, she developed a love for French pastries. Once she returned to the US, she brought her newfound love to her work in several Michelin Star restaurants. When she moved to CO, Liliana became excited by Safta’s mission to create a modern Israeli-inspired menu and knew she wanted to join the team.

In her career, Liliana has focused on creating sustainable and nutrient-rich desserts. She enjoys using local ingredients and strives to minimize waste. Her “light and clean” desserts are a perfect fit for Soom Tahini.

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