2021 40 Women to Watch

This honor recognizes the creativity, leadership and contributions of women across all hospitality industry sectors. The first class included honorees from restaurants, bars, caterers, hospitality venues, purveyors, educational institutions, advocacy and tourism groups, and care facilities.

Thank you Delta Dental for sponsoring the 40 Women to Watch in Hospitality!

Amanda Andrews aptitude for creating innovative cocktails, as well as her draw toward fast-paced work environments, quickly revealed that she was the perfect fit for the hospitality industry.  In addition to her tireless commitment to mentoring and helping other women, this young mother has earned national and international recognition for her cocktail creations.  Her original drink, “The Amelia” was widely became a standard for Zardetto Private Cuvee Prosecco.  A bartender, server, and general manager for DM Blue Shark Ale House, Amanda says, “Women need to nurture and this industry gives us the opportunity to do that for our guests, coworkers and employees.”

Amanda Andrews

Blue Shark Ale House,
Urbandale

Amy Parker is truly a cornerstone of her community.  She purchased a longstanding main street restaurant in 2019, in part as a labor of love. She wanted to ensure Macedonia, population 214, didn’t lose their restaurant. She helped transform the tiny bar and grill into a destination spot. Today, The Back Forty consistently draws regular patrons from as far as 75 miles away.  When the pandemic hit, this mother of 5 girls, further exemplified what it means to give to her community. With some donations, but willing to spend what she had, she served 80 senior citizens in four communities daily meals,  providing 6,000 free meals in 10 weeks.

Amy Parker

The Back Forty,
Macedonia

Anne Owens says hospitality success requires a diverse set of skills—business savvy, a nose for marketing,  positive attitude, customer service, and the ability to work with diverse people.  Her life and career prepared her for all of the above.  The now sales consultant for Sysco Iowa attended the University of Iowa and culinary school at Kirkwood Community College.  She worked as a nutritional consultant before jumping to the purveyor side of the industry.  This single mom has built a career where she’s been often recognized for her leadership.  However, she’s most proud of being an example of the varied career opportunities available to women who pursue hospitality.

Anne Owens

Sysco,
Ankeny

Chef Brandy Lueders, owner of Grateful Chef in Des Moines is a true trailblazer.  Turning a favor to a friend into one of the communities most innovative food businesses, Brandy started a weekly meal service program and an avid following.  A graduate of Iowa Culinary Institute that has worked in fine dining establishments and huge companies like Sodexo, the young Chef recognized a niche that fit her lifestyle and allowed her to follow her passion.  Each week she creates a menu, takes orders and prepares inspired healthy meals for her clientele. She describes her cuisine approach as, “Love expressed through food, passion, freedom of artistic expression and playfulness.”

Brandy Lueders

Grateful Chef,
Des Moines

Cassie Bott is known for both her leadership and love of people. One of the founders of a family-owned winery, the mom of two is constantly engaged with customers and staff in her role as Operations Manager. Cassie fearlessly navigated Fireside winery through pandemic mandated closures, as well as derecho damage.  Those who know her say she’s always first to roll up her sleeves and get to work. Even with her work and family commitments, Cassie finds time to give to the industry—serving as the Iowa Wine Growers Association President. Her hallmark way of showing appreciation? Cassie takes great care to send a birthday card to nearly everyone she knows.

Cassie Bott

Ackerman Winery,
Amana

Chelsa Smith left a corporate career to purse her passion, modify her lifestyle and create a business. The self-taught sourdough baker is quick to credit others for her mastery of bread-making.  “The camaraderie I’ve found amongst women in hospitality is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” says this cottage bakery entrepreneur. “This community is something that pushes me every day. It’s one of the reasons I love what I do”.  Chelsa launched “Bread by Chelsa B” into the Des Moines food scene in January 2021  and today her handcrafted loaves can be found online, in markets and in other small businesses.  She is also helping other home bakers find a path by helping organize educational events.

Chelsa Smith

Bread by Chelsa B,
Des Moines

Dawn Magee Martin joined her husband to launch a Cold Stone Creamery and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in 2018. The next year she and her husband, Andrew,  opened a concept created by him and named for her: Magees Irish Pun and Eatery. A CPA who started her career at Ernst & Young, Dawn and Andrew now work together to manage both operations.  Her team credits her with pivoting the businesses during the pandemic to recapture much of the revenue lost due to mandated closures.  “A hospitality business is an extension of yourself,” says Dawn. “It allows me to open my doors, invite customers in, treat them as friends, and show them affection by feeding them.” Dawn extends her spirit of hospitality to her community as well.  She is a visible member of the Ankeny community and a range of organizations and charities including the Ankeny Catholic community and ACHS show choir program.

Dawn Martin

Magee's Irish Pub | Tasty Treats,
Ankeny

 

For the past decade, Edita Habibovic has worked her way through the ranks of one the Des Moines area’s favorite local restaurant chains, B-Bops. She started in 2011 as an hourly team member in the Windsor Heights store, advanced to crew leader in the Urbandale and Ankeny locations, and is now the General Manager at one of their newest and largest locations in Waukee.  Edita has taken advantage of every growth and learning opportunity the industry has offered.  In her role as general manager, she teaches others the systems, customer service and food preparation methods that have been at the center of B-Bop’s dozens of awards. A Bosnian immigrant, this mother of two little girls, has found the combination of success and work/life balance unique to the hospitality industry.

 

Edita Habibovic

BBops,
Waukee

 

This is not the first time Holly Hintz has been recognized by the IRA.  In 2018, the then GM at a successful dessert lounge, was recognized as the Association’s “Emerging Leader.” Holly has since ventured out on her own and continues to exhibit both her entrepreneurship and leadership, helping create a unified force among the emerging cottage industry of home baking. Prairie Rose Desserts, her newest venture, has garnered rocket speed success.  She is holding great workshops for other home bakers.  Says Holly of her outreach to other women starting businesses from home, “I want everyone to succeed.  There is more than enough business to go around.”

 

 

Holly Hintz

Prairie Rose Desserts,
Urbandale

Isabella Santoro used her international studies degree to work at a New York City “think tank” before returning to Iowa help in her family’s restaurant, Café Dodici. “Sometimes you have to discover what you don’t want to do before you know what you do want,” says Isabella.  Her talents were immediately put to use.  She wrote grants to increase overnight accommodations in Washington, as well as to create a private dining space and expanded coffee shop.  She and her husband are preparing to open a reimagined diner on the town square. Isabella’s advice to women who want to own a restaurant is to study basic accounting and management. “There’s much you can learn on a need-to-know basis in the hospitality industry, but you will want these skills.”

Isabella Santoro

Café Dodici,
Washington

Jessica Anderson has taken full advantage of every work and educational opportunity Iowa’s hospitality industry has put in front of her.  As a high school student, she represented Iowa at the National ProStart Invitational as part of the Waukee High School ProStart team.  She attended Iowa State University and received multiple state and national industry scholarships.  It’s no surprise that she was hired out of school to test recipes for a large magazine group before she ventured out on her own to create Jess Desserts. The budding entrepreneur is a baker, cake decorator, caterer, and private chef.   “I can’t imagine myself in any other industry,” says Jessica. “I’ve always known this is where I want to be.”

Jessica Anderson

Jess Desserts,
Des Moines

“We are not a stop along the way, we are the destination” proclaims the homepage of The Landmark Bistro in Grundy Center. “We are the Landmark.” They are indeed a landmark and much of the credit goes to the owner/operator Jill Krausman.  A single mom, nominated by her daughter to this year’s list, Jill is raising the hospitality bar in every direction.  The Landmark Bistro has been named multiple years to Travel Iowa’s 99 Counties, 99 Restaurants list. When the pandemic closed indoor dining, Jill and her Landmark team made sure that her customers were still cared for—including making and taking a customer celebrating his 90th birthday his special meal on his special day.

Jill Krausman

The Landmark Bistro,
Grundy Center

When Julie Halfpop completed her degree in Food & Nutrition/Dietetics at Iowa State, she assumed she would find a career in a health clinic. But when she landed a position in foodservice operations and dining programs, she never looked back. She oversaw a hospital’s foodservice program for more than a decade and then worked as a corporate dietitian before joining foodservice distributor Martin Brothers. Today, she leads a team of nine dietitians. She is a sought-after expert speaker and lecturer on long term care menus, developing marketable dining experiences, controlling costs, and training staff. “Hospitality never goes out of style,” says Julie of her 30+ year career. “The skills you develop will take you places.”

 

Julie Halfpop

Martin Brothers Dist,
Des Moines

Katie Thompson may be part of a successful hospitality family, but she has brought her own special skillset and savvy to the Urban Restaurant Group. As the General Manager for District 36 Wine Bar & Grill, located in Ankeny’s Prairie Trail District, Katie was on the forefront of leading the team of this upscale casual restaurant through the hardest time in the history of Iowa’s restaurant industry. Her creativity to try new marketing tools, communicate through social media, rethink carry out and delivery, and insist on “above and beyond” safety measures, ensured that District 36 came out of the pandemic, successful, prosperous, and stronger than ever.

 

 

Katie Thompson

District 36,
Ankeny

Katie Lovstad appreciates the flexibility the hospitality industry provides.  She built her career at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort in Larchwood, rising through the ranks to the role of Assistant Food & Beverage Director. In that position she managed 140 people. Says Katie, “Hospitality has so much opportunity for growth. I started on the front line and worked my way up to a supervisor, then to a Manager and eventually to Assistant Food and Beverage Director at Grand Falls. I went from supervisor to Assistant Director in six years, all through hard work, dedication and great mentors.” She recently stepped back from her management role, but has remained at the casino. She loves that hospitality affords her the opportunity to make career choices that fits with changes in her personal life.

Katie Lovstad

Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort,
Larchwood

As Director of Operations, Kori Teeter has been an integral part to Orchestrate Hospitality’s growth and success. Kori has years of hospitality and management experience in both restaurant and hotel properties.  Today she oversees the management and maintenance teams, ensuring Orchestrate’s 11 properties are operating efficiently. Additionally, Kori leads recruitment and management efforts for the company’s 600+ employees, identifying talent and discovering where individuals’ skills are best expressed. Kori is a key player in the company’s strategic planning, advising on projects and actively supporting management teams on-site through opening operations.

Kori Teeter

Orchestrate Hospitality,
Des Moines

A young mom dedicated to her family and wanting a career that is focused on customer service, Kristin Sumpter has found balance working as the Director of Operations for a  local third party delivery company MyTown2Go/delivery.com.  Restaurant owners rave about Kristin’s customer service and ability to quickly resolve any issues. The pandemic was a difficult time for your young working moms in the hospitality industry, Kristin was not only able to build a career, but create opportunities for others in her role. Written by a restaurateur she works with, “Kristin goes above and beyond 200% all of the time.”

 

Kristin Sumpter

MyTown2Go/Delivery.com,
Des Moines

As the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Kylie Peterson daily combines her story-telling skills and extensive experience in the beef industry to work for producers, consumers, restaurateurs and retailers across the state. She is constantly seeking creative ways to promote the purchasing, preparation, and enjoyment of beef from pasture to plate—including taking a lead role as a judge and organizer on the annual chef’s competition with the Iowa Restaurant Association. “I’m thrilled to be able to promote an industry at which I love,” says Kylie. When she’s not promoting Iowa beef, she still helps on her family’s central Iowa farm.

Kylie Peterson

Iowa Beef Industry Council,
Ames

Leslie Lucente, Market Development Manager for E&J Gallo Winery has been helping Iowa restaurateurs develop the perfect mix of wine, spirits and food for more than 17 years. She started her career with Johnson Brothers as a sales rep and was honored as Sales Rep of the Year. She started with E&J Gallo Winery in representing Barefoot Wines where she helped establish the brand in Iowa. Leslie was elevated to her current position where she works closely with Johnson Brothers and their on premise customers. She’s been integral to strengthening  E&J’s involvement with the Iowa Restaurant Association. Leslie’s advice to women starting hospitality careers, “Be yourself. Don’t be intimidated. Always take chances to make yourself better. Find a great mentor!”

Leslie Lucente

E&J Gallo Winery,
Des Moines

Chef Lisa Morales opened Flavory Bistro with her husband in 2016. Located in Ankeny’s Prairie Trail District, the popular eatery offers fresh Mediterranean dining.  The restaurant is known for its quality and creating from-scratch cuisine.  Chef Lisa draws inspiration from her Belgrade-roots. “Fresh and good is so good for you!” stresses this highly accomplished chef. Guests clamor for seats at the counter by the grill, where diners are often treated to fresh samples. “There’s real joy in this place,” wrote the customer who nominated Chef Lisa.” And it’s apparent that it emanates from the woman who owns it and the love she has for her food and her guests.”

 

Lisa Morales

Flavory Bistro,
Ankeny

Yenny Lorena Alomia Angulo (Lorena), owner/operator of Delicias by Lorena, is quick to say she was “born to prepare delicious foods” and anyone who has tried her Latin-inspired cuisine is quick to agree. A native of Colombia, South America, Lorena was the Association’s 2020 Faces of Diversity award winner. After moving to Des Moines, she started cooking for friends and acquaintances. Soon word-of-mouth recommendations led to corporate catering bookings that skipped the Club sandwich and instead featured empanadas, alfajores, arepas and other South American favorites. Today her home bakery features popular South American goods like Pandebono, Buñuelos, and Torta de Tres Leches and she also has one of Central Iowa’s most complete vegan baked good menus.

Lorena Alomia

Delicias By Lorena,
Des Moines

Chef Maria Keys, Executive Sous Chef, for VenuWorks the operational arm for The RiverCenter Convention Center and The Adler Performance Arts Theatre in Davenport, has been a woman to watch since high school.  A participant in the Iowa Restaurant Association’s ProStart program, Chef Maria was making waves at an early age. Today she’s exhibiting her leadership and creativity beyond the kitchen through programs such as The RiverCenter Organic Gardens, which replaces costly landscaping with an Urban Garden. The garden yields 155 types of fruit and vegetables used to provide culinary training, as well as to support to programs and The Quad City Food Rescue.

Maria Keys

River Center,
Davenport

Marie Chalhoub worked in hospitality as a child growing up in Lebanon.  She and husband George were excited to purchase their family restaurant from her uncle Oscar in 1988.  Oscar’s has been a cornerstone of the community ever since. Marie, who can be found in the restaurant nearly every day, says the customers keep her inspired. “We have people who have been coming in for decades,” says Marie. “We’ve watched their children grow up, been to their weddings and graduations… we’ve been through it all.”  Marie was able to shepherd the family restaurant through the pandemic. “Give 100% of your focus in this industry, and your passion will shine through,” concludes Marie.

Marie Chalhoub

Oscar's Restaurant,
Hiawatha

Mary Lohse believes everyone should have to work as a server at some point in their life. “It teaches compassion, understanding and patience,” says Mary, who is the owner/operator of Brick Street Market & Café. “You learn quickly that a little kindness goes a long way.”  Mary has worked as a server, hostess, bartender and back of house office manager.  She was a medical clerk when her husband and she decided to build something they knew their community needed—a grocery store and café. Mary has been the heart and soul of the operation from day one.  Says Mary, “Being in this industry is so hard sometimes, but the rewards are so worth it. “

Mary Lohse

Brick Street Market & Cafe,
Bondurant

Megan McKay was working in her family’s insurance business, when she helped create Peace Tree Brewing Company in 2009. The brewery was founded, in part, to help redevelop Main Street Knoxville. “Nothing brings people together like a great space and wonderful beers!” says Megan. They started with a beautiful taproom and award-winning beers. Soon they were distributing their brews across the state. In 2015, Megan transitioned to full time owner of Peace Tree, making it the first 100% female owned brewery in the Iowa. She focused heavily on sales and production volume growth, as well as the professional development of her team.  Megan is heavily engaged in her community and serves on many state boards.  This past year she brought the voice of the hospitality to the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Megan McKay

Peace Tree Brewing Company,
Knoxville

Mindi Sudman, co-owner and General Manager of One Eleven Public House in Knoxville, has made sure her gastropub has an ambiance with just a “little bit of swank.”  The culinary team creates upscale comfort food using “local fairs and wares.” The eatery also features 16 craft beers on tap, classic cocktails and a self-described “artistic” wine list. Mindi has over 20 years of restaurant industry experience, but her entrepreneurial spirit knows no bounds.  She also owns and operates Curious Rebellion, a vintage home goods store, as well as a non-traditional marketing company which assists local and regional businesses with “outside-of-the-box” thinking. She also shares her expertise with the regional business community by serving on the Marion County Economic Development Commission.

Mindi Sudman

One Eleven Public House,
Knoxville

When Natalie Brown’s Scratch Cupcakery was named “Woman-Owned Business of the Year” by the Waterloo Courier, her first thought was “I don’t think of this as a woman-owned business.  I’m just a business owner.” However, she knows her success has been a model for other female entrepreneurs and she takes mentorship extremely seriously.  Scratch has won dozens of awards since its founding in 2010.  The cupcakery has four storefronts in Iowa and partners with 150+ businesses. Their Scratch Fundraising Programs have provided nearly $3 million of support to causes across the state.  Scratch has 125+ employees and Natalie’s best advice to aspiring business owners and employees alike is listen to the people around you, “Never be the smartest person in the room, you’ll be surprised what you learn.”

Natalie Brown

Scratch Cupcakery,
Cedar Falls

When Nikki Schneider noticed community events rarely had wine options for patrons, she set out to do something about it.  A non-profit veteran and mom of two, she already knew how to stretch both her time and resources.  Nikki remodeled a trailer making it a just little bit “whimsical” —with flowers, lace, and clever sayings– but also highly functional.  The Whimsical Wine Trailer was dubbed “Iowa’s First Mobile Wine Bar.” The trailer brings wine and local beers to events across the state. Based in Boone County, Nikki has served up beverages at events everywhere from Harlan and Iowa City to Storm Lake to Charles City.  Next up? She’s adding the “chameleon camper”, to her fleet of mobile bars.

Nicole Schneider

The Whimsical Wine Trailer,
Boone

After Nina Easley lost her husband Jeff to cancer in 2020, she knew she needed to bring joy to the people around her. With deep roots in Earlham, she took over a space in a historic building, dusted off a family recipe and started making authentic New Orleans style beignets. She paired them with locally roasted coffee and Beans & Beignets was born.  Those who know her, say she feeds the soul of the community with a space to gather enjoy varied breakfast and lunch fare, as well as a selection of ice cream specialties. She uses locally grown produce and celebrates local food culture. Nina loves to look at her full dining area and see the faces of so many and family and friends.

Nina Easley

Beans and Beignets,
Earlham

Phoebe Charles, Owner and GM of Rodina, an independent concept in the heart of Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village, says she’s always been obsessed with comfort.  It is a passion that has helped shape the aesthetic of her award-winning restaurant.  Rodina means “family” in Czech, and she has taken great care to cultivate an environment where every customer feels like family when they visit. Phoebe’s attention to detail is everywhere including the table from Phoebe’s grandma which is a centerpiece in their dining area. “Hospitality is natural and organic,” says Phoebe. “It teaches humility, empathy, conflict resolution, efficiency, multi-tasking and time management.”

Phoebe Charles

Rodina,
Cedar Rapids

Raphaëlle Azria built her hospitality career in four  countries, speaking three languages. Today she draws on that experience, applying her creativity to exploring interesting ingredients and using it to build a unique cocktail menu for Proof in Des Moines. “There is beauty in uncovering delicate nuances,” says Raphaëlle of evaluating liquors, herbs, spices and waters. “I am proud of my craft… what we do is art, capable of connecting us to one another in the hope that we can face the challenges of our time.”  Her approach has manifested itself in the form of one-of-kind syrups and infusions that continue to delight and keep customers engaged and coming back.

Raphaëlle Azria

Proof Restaurant,
Des Moines

Robyn McSheehy General Manager and Owner of Trostel’s Greenbriar knew she had big shoes to fill when she left her teaching job in Colorado to return to her family’s restaurant in Johnston. Her late father was a “leading force” in the state restaurant scene.  Robyn has been able to continue that legacy and create one of her own at the award-winning steakhouse. In 2017, Robyn and the Greenbriar team was honored by the Association for their philanthropy.  “The last year has really shown me what matters in this business,” says Robyn. “My guests and my employees … I will never take for granted letting them know how valued they are.”

 

Robyn McSheehy

Trostel's Greenbriar,
Urbandale

Stephanie Mihalakis, General Manager of Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar in Dubuque, started with the nationally-acclaimed independent restaurant as a server.  Her passion, dedication and commitment was quickly evident. She was promoted from server to front-of-house manager and then again to General Manager.  She has developed and proven her leadership skills, helping Brazen navigate a complex COVID-19 strategy. She heavily promoted home cooking kits and to go options when indoor dining was not possible.  Outside of the restaurant she is actively engaged in the local Chamber Young Professional.  Brazen owners Chef Kevin and Lyndsi Scharpf lean on her positive energy. “She has so much drive,” they note. “We know we will continue to see big things from her.”

Stephanie Mihalakis

Brazen Open Kitchen,
Dubuque

Tamara Chubb leveraged her management and marketing degree in the hospitality industry more than 20 years ago, working her way through the corporate ranks of Hilton Hotels. The award-winning salesperson and manager lived and worked in Nebraska, California and Minnesota before returning to Iowa.  She was the first employee at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown, where she serves as the Director of Sales and Marketing.  “There is flexibility and opportunity in the hospitality industry,” says Chubb. “It’s a 24/7 operation, which can seem overwhelming, but that’s also where you find the flexibility. You can find the right job for your skills and schedule.”

Tamara Chubb

Hilton Downtown,
Des Moines

When Veronica Tessler sees a problem, she can’t help but look for solutions–it’s her nature. She recognized Iowa City should have a quality frozen yogurt establishment. She’d seen these in cities everywhere. So determined to solve the problem, she started Yotopia Frozen Yogurt. She and a friend saw another dining gap in 2019.  This time it was in Des Moines’ East Village, soon after they opened Nosh Café & Eatery, a fast casual café and frozen yogurt shop focused on healthy, local options.  This is not the first leadership honor for Veronica.  She has received the Corridor Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and the Iowa City Downtown District Women of Impact award, and is a Waypoint Service’s Women of Achievement honoree.

Veronica Tessler

Yotopia | Nosh Cafe & Eatery,
Iowa City

Chef Viktoria Grochut enjoyed her career as a Dental Technician, but says “after spending years making people smile again and eat food without problems, I decided it was time to return to my hospitality roots.” Her family owns a food supply company, so the restaurant industry was in her blood.  She attended the culinary program at Iowa Central and according to the program’s head graduated with the “highest score” in the school’s history. Today she is making waves as the Chef for Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Sac City.  “Having the opportunity to create a customer experience that includes delicious food, good drinks and a great atmosphere is magical,” concludes the young chef.

Viktoria Grochut

Cattlemen's Steakhouse,
Sac City

Wendy Maldonado is a true utility player. She can, and has, served as chef, line cook, and trainer as well as a kitchen, general, and taproom manager. Today, she is the GM for Lion Bridge Brewing Company, where she handles day-to-day operations. The brewery’s founder credits Wendy for elevating the guest experience and doubling kitchen sales. Wendy is also visible in the community winning cooking competitions, teaching classes and volunteering at a local shelter.  Wendy holds an English degree but was drawn to the hospitality industry rather than a classroom. “I’ve found great joy in managing and working with people,” says Wendy. “Hospitality provides a variety of outlets for people with different skills and aspirations to grow and succeed.“

Wendy Maldonado

Lion Bridge Brewing Company,
Cedar Rapids

Whitley Mitts has been a daycare provider, CNA, home health worker and a health coach.  Many would argue that this busy mom of three and general manager at SWARM Sports Bar & Grille in Sumner is still taking care of people.  She is described by customers and coworkers as passionate, tireless, and a beautiful leader. “Whitley does everything big,” wrote one of her nominators.  “… big pretzels, big burgers, big hot dogs big eating challenges, and big events.” Whitley admits she’s all in at SWARM. “Even, when I’m away from work, I’m constantly thinking of ways we can do better or new things we can try.  I really do treat the place like it was my own.”

 

Whitley Mitts

SWARM Sports Bar & Grille,
Sumner

Whitney Peter grew up painting and sculpting, skills that have translated well to cake artistry.  She attended Iowa State University to pursue an art and design degree and joined the Crème team in 2016 as Night Manager of the dessert lounge. She was always taking the time to hone her cake decorating skills during the quiet times and was ultimately promoted to Head Decorator in 2018. Whitney is a driving force behind Crème’s reputation as a leader in high-end elegant cakes. From craft cocktails to cake artistry, Whitney never stops researching and implementing new things at Creme. Described those around her as “an amazing industry leader coaching others to try new things.”

 

Whitney Peter

Créme Cupcake + Dessert,
Des Moines

Whitney is Co-Founder and President of Lua Brewing in Des Moines. In its first year Lua won awards for Best Restaurant and Best New Restaurant in Des Moines, as well as being named one of the top 50 breweries in the world by a major consumer rating site. The family-friendly dining and beer-tasting room celebrates the region and includes a 16-person harvest table made from reclaimed Iowa barn wood. Prior to her time at Lua, Whitney was in upper management at restaurants in Iowa City and Minneapolis. When thousands of Iowa’s restaurant workers were temporarily unemployed due to the pandemic Lua was one of the first major contributors supporting displaced restaurant workers through the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Employee Relief Fund.

Whitney Selix

Lua Brewing,
Des Moines