Chef Danielle Leoni: The Breadfruit & Rum Bar Owner

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My Native Admission Statement: I am known for seafood and sustainability. The Breadfruit & Rum Bar is a Jamaican restaurant and rum bar at heart. I want to show the nation that Jamaican food is beautiful, complex and deserves to be celebrated just as any other revered cuisine. This mission has become my platform for change. Through my food, I am able to shape our supply chain, food system, how people think about food and in turn their relationship with food. I have a decade long vision of my work inspiring others to choose to support fishers and farmers who are practicing their craft in harmony with the planet. Practicing patience, empathy and listening makes me the best version of myself. Stopping myself from making assumptions and always being willing to hear another point of view.

How do you motivate others?

Motivation comes from a sense of purpose. We are not just cooks, waiters and bartenders. We change the world with each guest we serve. Helping my team understand that greeting a guest, filling a glass of water and offering food has a real impact on the lives of our farmers and fishers, their families, our community, our state, our nation and in turn our planet is motivation enough. We are a part of the future, the density of our planet. We are changemakers.

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Hugh Acheson: Chef & Food Writer

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My Native Admission Statement: I am a chef and business person who cobbled together a career by making good food. Now I still do all of that but I also create restaurants for companies, produce two podcasts, write a lot of books, and opine about the world in my own self-deprecating way. I make things well. I triage scenarios and figure out the immediate path to make things better. My aspirations are to be a productive employer, to master technique, to learn something every day, and to constantly guide others and my biggest success is employing 300 people while not going broke.

Any emerging industry trends?

I think the idea of hospitality has morphed into an embrace of making people feel comfortable and no longer hinges on being lavish. We can, and should, be offering hospitality at all levels of dining, from a coffee shop to the finest Michelin experience. The challenges are economic these days. In an industry prone to failure we have had to lessen the cost involved across the board. Labor and occupancy costs are not really viable or possible to shave, hence the $14 carrot salad at all fine dining places.

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Lauren M. Scott: The Produce Marketing Association Chief Marketing Officer

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My Native Admission Statement: I am Lauren M Scott and I like to say the ‘M’ stands for mom, marketer, manager and muser. I am passionate about ideas and inspiring people to help them grow professionally and personally. There is magic in the moment when you can see a connection happen - the “a-ha” lightbulb go on, the wheels start to turn, and the tumblers fall into place. I get to see that often in my work now at PMA, where connecting people, ideas and insights is a core part of our mission and vision to grow a healthier world. I love what i do: I have the opportunity to spend time with our members - growers, floral breeders, grocers, restauranteurs, truckers, business service providers – you name it. It is incredible to see their passion and to hear the personal stories that drive them to dedicate their lives to feed and delight us. They are committed to helping grow a healthier world, just like PMA is, and it’s my belief that we’re just getting started.

My Most Challenging Moment?

When a manager made me believe I hit the ceiling in my career. I almost accepted my lot in life (ala C-3PO wandering the desert in Star Wars), then after 15 minutes I picked my head up, blocked that nonsense from my mind, and kept going. Those in leadership need to be very aware how their words can land on their teams, and that moment has always been top of mind when challenges pop up.

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Ivy Knight: Journalist & Cultural Programmer

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My Native Admission Statement: I’m a journalist who writes regularly for Condé Nast, VICE, Playboy and the Globe & Mail. I’m also a cultural programmer and I’ll be taking part in the WCR Conference this month for the first time. I’ll be doing on-stage interviews with a number of chefs from across the country talking about how they are changing the traditional structures of restaurant kitchens. The panel will include people like Martha Hoover, a sex crimes prosecutor turned restaurateur in Indianapolis, and Kelly Fields, a chef and mentorship advocate in New Orleans. The keynote speaker will be Laurie Woolever, former assistant to Anthony Bourdain and co-writer of his last book. She'll be talking about mental health and addiction in the restaurant industry. The lineup is really inspiring and the knowledge these women can share is worth way more than the cost of a ticket. Mentorship, addressing harassment, listening to and empowering employees – these are all things that will change the outdated macho culture of kitchens and ensure better work environments for everyone in the industry. That's for people in the restaurant business. For people in the freelance writing world, there has never been a greater need for content than right now and access is unparalleled. Editors for the biggest publications post their email addresses on their twitter profiles for a reason. They want new voices.

How did you get into the industry?

I started writing while I was working in restaurants. My perspective, as a working line cook and not your typical wealthy gourmand, was not very well represented in the food writing scene at that time. My voice from the kitchen trenches sparked an interested readership before I deserved one. But it gave me confidence to find my voice and it gave me experience as a writer that took the place of schooling. I hustled hard, I worked for free and learned on the job. I don’t work for free anymore but the rest – hustling and learning- is still a big part of what I do.

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Ryan Novak: Chocolate Pizza Company Founder

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Read The Native Influence Full Q&A

How did you get into the industry? Chocolate has been in my blood from a very young age. As a toddler, the Chocolate Pizza Company store was across the street from my house and my mom would take me over in a stroller. They tell me I was very good at reaching up and finding the sample tray while the women talked. At the age of 15, I got my first job at the company washing dishes and mopping floors. I loved working there and learned everything I could about the business. My enthusiasm was rewarded by the founder who mentored me in how to work with chocolate. It was just a small-town chocolate shop when she retired in 2010 but I knew it could be much more so I offered to buy it and she agreed. I was 21 years-old.

Career Advice? Aspiration demands perspiration – you should work for what you want. Young entrepreneurs should not be afraid that their dreams are too big but rather that they are too small. Big dreams come with big challenges that keep you up at night. Don’t fear the work, fear being stagnant. If you are not living, breathing and sweating the pursuit of your dream, then you are not reaching far enough. If your goals are coming too easily, then your expectations are failing you. Thomas Paine once said, “What we attain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

Michael Pirolo Executive Chef/Owner of Macchialina, the Saint Austere, and Pirolo’s Panino

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Born in Queens, New York, but raised in Avellino, Italy, Chef Michael Pirolo comes from a fiercely passionate food family. So much, in fact, that at the age of 21 he enrolled in culinary school in Torino,

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Barry Dry: Proprietor, Hole in The Wall Cafe, Sugar Momma & NEO Café

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Barry Dry was born in Perth, Australia and studied Business Management and Economics at Notre Dame University in Australia. During his academic tenure, he ran a restaurant, working his way up from dishwasher, to General Manager. After graduating, he moved to New York City in 2011 to pursue a career in finance.

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Derin Alemli: Founder, Square Roots Kitchen

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Derin Alemi graduated from University of Chicago Booth School of Business and entered the asset management realm. After finding success in hedge funds, Derin chose to start his own business, Down Beats. Down Beats was, and continues to be, a great success for Derin

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Stacy Adimando: Executive Editor, Saveur

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Stacy Adimando is a food and travel journalist, cookbook author, recipe developer, and the Executive Editor at Saveur magazine. Stacy is the former Test Kitchen Director at Saveur, Food Editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray, and recipes editor at Food Network. She has written for a variety of food, travel and lifestyle publications including NPR, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Vogue, Forbes,

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Megan Garrelts: Proprietor & Executive Pastry Chef, Bluestem & Rye Restaurants

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A James Beard semifinalist for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” with recipes published in numerous national publications including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, and Saveur, Megan Garrelts co-owns and operates Bluestem in Kansas City, MO a three-time semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Restaurant”

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Maria Emmerich: Wellness Expert & International Best Selling author

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Maria Emmerich is a wellness expert in nutrition and exercise physiology. She shares a passion for helping others reach their goals of optimal health. She struggled with her weight throughout childhood and decided enough was enough. She decided to study health and wellness so she could help others stop wasting their time being discouraged with their outward appearance and not feeling their best

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