Female Restaurant Owners + Entrepreneurs Championing The Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry has been through a tumultuous time this past year, but these six NYC women business owners have persevered and grown their businesses, despite the pandemic. We commend these female restauranteurs, entrepreneurs, and culinary bosses this Women’s History Month…

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NYC Caterer Nuhma Tuazon immigrated to the United States from the Philippines at a young age. The sounds and smells of her childhood—freshly caught fish, newly picked vegetables, bustling markets—anchored Nuhma’s sense of home and inspired her lifelong passion for cooking. Nuhma moved to France when she was 20 to intern under Pierre Hermé at Fauchon, the iconic French gourmet food company, before returning to New York to complete the Pastry and Baking Arts program at the Institute of Culinary Education. From there, she went to work at the Michelin starred Bouley for two years. In 2003, she launched a private catering company for Manhattan’s social fixtures and philanthropists. Thanks to her exquisite, yet approachable cuisine, unparalleled service and famous fried chicken, Nuhma’s business grew. Now Nuhma operates from a 2,500 square foot industrial kitchen in Long Island City alongside a talented team of chefs and expert wait staff to Nuhma NYC. She’s now looking forward to a revived wedding and events season ahead and pushed through 2020 with an express kitchen model serving personal meals to people’s homes during the pandemic.

Sarah Schneider, owner and founder of Egg Shop, is a restaurateur who had a vision for bringing the coveted egg sandwich and innovative egg dishes to the forefront of the culinary world. Through Egg Shop’s creative menu, Schneider gives egg lovers the option to be both healthy and indulgent, while showing the diversity of the egg as a stand-alone ingredient. Originally from sunny San Diego, Schneider moved to New York in 2001, after a vacation turned into a permanent stay. Schneider quickly discovered her love of fashion, building a 14-year career in fashion wholesale working with top denim brands like AG, Levi’s, PRPS, and True Religion. Schneider has developed Egg Shop into one of the most coveted brunch spots in New York City with two locations in Williamsburg and Nolita. Going through more than 400 eggs at each location per day, Schneider hopes to expand the Egg Shop concept further, and create a truly memorable experience for all who walk through Egg Shop’s doors.

Cannonball Productions is a New York City-based company led by Kate Levenstien, which is known for producing perennially popular stadium-sized culinary events like the Bacon and Beer Classic. The Classic has become one of the most popular food and drink fests in the country, consistently selling out in over 10 cities including New York, Chicago, Seattle, Santa Clara, Denver and Minneapolis. Cannonball Productions is also the force behind Taco Takeover, which pairs refreshing tequila cocktails with original Mexican dishes from each city’s best local chefs and now the first nationwide hard seltzer festival, Seltzerland, which is traveling to golf courses across the US this year.

Restaurateur Tali Vaknin is the force behind the new Vegan bistro Willow in Chelsea, in addition to the well-known vegan/kosher independently owned chain Beyond Sushi, which has five NYC locations and has garnered widespread support for their innovative take on sushi among other signature dishes. She, with her husband, chef Guy Vaknin by her side, have preserved and already expanded in 2021 with the opening of Willow in January. She also has City Roots catering under her ever-expanding umbrella and excited for what’s to come this year.

Aliyyah Baylor has set the baking world on fire, growing Make My Cake into a global sensation, which draws tens of thousands of worldwide visitors. Her 3rd generation family-owned business is celebrating 25 years and she’s planning to expand her presence past her flagship on W. 139th Street and Upper West Side locations to open a third on 125th Street with a new concept called I Like it Black Coffee Shop right next door. She is also a generous philanthropist who is committed to improving the lives of New York City’s seniors and children. She sits on the board of City Meals-on-Wheels and Black Women for Black Girls Giving Circle. She also received a Distinguished Business Woman of the Year Award from The Harlem Arts Council, for her dedication to community service across New York City. Make My Cake serves everything from pies and cobblers to cakes, cupcakes and cookies with the ability to customize everything. Her signature creations include German Chocolate Cake, a decadent Red Velvet Cake, and local favorite, the Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

Leticia Skai Young-Mohan and her husband Executive Chef Raymond Mohan, are the duo behind LoLo’s Seafood Shack, a Cape Cod and Caribbean mashup and neighborhood favorite in Harlem.  The restaurateurs just signed a lease to take over a space near Columbia University to open a new concept called LoLo’s Taco Shack, inspired by their travels to the Yucatan and Leticia’s family roots in the region. The menu will feature Belizean street foods like Garnaches, and plantain wrapped tamales and a wide variety of Yucatan-inspired tacos like Cochinita Pibil. Buildout just began with the aim to open for takeout, delivery, indoor and outdoor dining this April.

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