Wine Pairings by Natalie Grindstaff, Beverage Director, Craft
Mary Attea is the Chef de Cuisine of Annisa, the acclaimed Greenwich Village restaurant from chef and owner Anita Lo. Mary was born and raised in Buffalo, NY where her father’s Lebanese culture and cuisine played a large role in opening her eyes to a world outside of traditional suburban American food. After attending Catawba College, in North Carolina where she studied psychology, Mary moved to NYC for graduate school. Mary got a side job waiting tables, and soon realized that she enjoyed working at the restaurant more than studying psychology. Eventually, she quit to work in the restaurant business full time. She spent several years working in New York City dining rooms such as Aquagrill before attending the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. Making the leap to the kitchen after graduating culinary school, Mary was set up with an externship at Annisa, and Anita soon recognized her talent and hired her to work full time in the kitchen. Two years later, Mary worked her way up to become invaluable to Anita and her team as Chef De Cuisine and was even nominated as a semi-finalist for Eater’s coveted Young Guns awards in 2014. Pulling inspiration from her Lebanese background, Mary has created some of her own signature dishes at Annisa including her Steak Tartare and Saddle of Rabbit with Pistachio, Mint and Grape Leaves, which were both recently praised by Pete Wells in Annisa’s glowing three-star review in The New York Times.
Suzanne Cupps is Chef de Cuisine at Untitled and Studio Cafe, both in the Whitney Museum of American Art. Born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina, Suzanne was exposed to the concept of farm to table at an early age, while spending summers on her grandfather’s farm. As a child, Suzanne often dodged her mother’s requests for help in the kitchen, and it wasn’t until the end of her undergraduate years at Clemson University that Suzanne began to consider cooking as a potential career. Suzanne’s first job in the hospitality industry was an HR administrator position at the Waldorf Astoria, where she quickly realized that her interests lay firmly in the kitchen. Soon after, Suzanne enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education and found the creative and competitive atmosphere of a professional kitchen to her liking.After graduating from ICE in 2005, Suzanne began her culinary career with Union Square Hospitality Group as an extern at Gramercy Tavern, developing a deep respect for Chef Mike Anthony’s careful sourcing and New American approach to cooking. This experience further cemented her passion for the industry and after her externship, Suzanne went on to hone her skills at Anita Lo’s restaurant Annisa. Three years into her time at Annisa, the restaurant was destroyed by a fire, and Suzanne played an integral role in rebuilding and re-opening the restaurant nine months later. In 2011, Suzanne chose to continue her fine dining education and returned to Gramercy Tavern as a line cook. Most recently, Suzanne held the position of Tavern Sous Chef, where she was responsible for expediting lunch and dinner in the front room, along with creating dishes for the menu and directly supervising the Tavern cooks.
Daniela Soto-Innes comes from a long line of women who love food and cooking. And visiting the food markets and restaurants of Mexico City as a child only stoked her curiosity further. By the time she was 14, Soto-Innes was ready to work.She started as an intern with Marriot Hotels, a position which turned into a job that lasted through high school and landed her in Austin at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. Soto-Innes stayed there for three years, building up a skill set in the context of a professional restaurant. Looking for some serious training, Soto-Innes moved to Austin, Texas, where she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. From there, it was all about exploration. Soto-Innes traveled and staged at restaurants in Texas, New York, and Europe, finally returning to Texas to stage at Marks Restaurant with Chef Mark Cox. Eventually she joined the opening crew of Brennan’s of Houston under Chef Danny Trace, where she met mentor Bobby Matos, and rotated around the kitchen and helped develop the restaurant’s tasting menus. Two years later, Soto-Innes continued exploring, at progressive American restaurant Triniti and charcuterie-driven Underbelly with Chef Chris Shepherd.A stage at Pujol found Soto-Innes back in Mexico. When that ended she worked under Gerardo Vazques Lugo owner of Nicos in Mexico city, one of Soto-Innes’ most inspiring mentors. Lugo helped her to figure out her own path and plan. That led Soto-Innes back to Pujol for a full-time position working alongside culinary icon Enrique Olvera—whom she also counts a mentor. When Olvera was looking to bring his operation to New York City, he tapped Soto-Innes as opening chef de cuisine. Now at the helm of Cosme, Soto-Innes works on menu development with Olvera and kitchen management with fellow chef de cuisine Mariana Villegas, never forgetting the inspiration, or cooking lineage, that came before.
Christina Lecki, head chef at The Breslin Bar and Dining Room, had her love for food instilled at an early age while helping her grandfather prepare his favorite meals for the family.Christina felt the pull to the culinary world while studying fashion at Philadelphia University and working in various restaurants. She decided to channel her experience and passion for food into a career, leaving Philadelphia University to enroll in the Art Institute of Philadelphia’s Culinary program to begin training as a chef. Lecki worked at Philadelphia’s beloved seafood restaurant, The Striped Bass alongside Chef Christopher Lee, whom she followed to New York City to open Gilt to critical acclaim, earning two Michelin stars in the process. She later joined Chef April Bloomfield to open the original John Dory Oyster Bar. From there, she assisted in the opening of both The Breslin and the reimagined John Dory before returning to the Breslin as head chef in 2011.
A native of New Jersey, Erin Shambura’s earliest experiences in the restaurant industry were as a server and bartender at local restaurants near home. While she enjoyed interacting with guests, she grew to love the energy of the kitchen. Erin initially completed her undergraduate degree at Providence College in history & business, but her interest in the culinary field was undeniable and she eventually attended the New York Restaurant School, graduating only 18 months later.Since then, Erin has worked in several of New York City’s most well-regarded restaurants, starting as an intern at Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50 and sous chef at The Mercer Kitchen. Wanting to further her culinary skills and learn first-hand about fine Italian cuisine, Erin did what not many chefs do – she accepted her next position as line cook at Mario Batali’s Del Posto where she coincidentally first crossed paths with Epicurean Group Chef Owner Gabe Thompson. It was at Del Posto, under the tutelage of Chef Mark Ladner, that she grew to understand and love Italian cuisine. Upon leaving Del Posto, Erin took the position of sous chef at another Batali eatery, Lupa, working for three years honing her skills.By the summer of 2010, Erin was ready for the next chapter of her career and she joined the team at L’Artusi as Chef de Cuisine. She felt immediately at home behind the marble counters of the open kitchen. Erin shares Chef Gabe’s passion for using thoughtfully-sourced ingredients and creating soulful food. In January 2015, Erin was promoted to Executive Chef.
Erin currently lives in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill. When she’s not in the kitchen, she is enjoying the outdoors at Prospect Park, trying new restaurants, or revisiting favorites for their seasonal highlights.