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Women Chefs in Hudson County You Need to Know

Historically, the culinary industry has been dominated by men. However, women around Hudson County are taking charge in the food industry in various positions. In honor of Women’s History Month, we rounded up a list of women chefs in the area to highlight their incredible accomplishments and contributions to culinary arts in Hudson County and beyond. Read on to learn more about these women chefs in Hudson County.

Alysis Vasquez

Private Chef, Culinary Instructor + Founder of Midnight Market

Alysis Vasquez

Alysis Vasquez started her journey in the food industry as a server at IHOP and what was supposed to just be a way to make money in college, quickly turned into a career path. Since her days at the International House of Pancakes, Alysis has worked at numerous local eateries including The Cuban, Hyatt Regency, Talde, and more. She is a trained chef from the French Culinary Institute with experience leading in the kitchen as well as on the management side of hospitality and as a private chef/caterer. Fast forward to 2016 and Alysis’s current project was born alongside best friend, Perla Perlata—Midnight Market. Midnight Market is a gathering of local small businesses serving “small bites at a small price.” Alysis and Perla carefully curate each event to highlight other chefs in the area while giving attendees an opportunity to try new food and have a fun evening. 


Casey Repetti

Personal Chef + Caterer 

Casey Repetti

Casey Repetti is a Hoboken-native who has grown her love of cooking as well as her career as a chef here in the Mile Square. After graduating high school, Casey attended culinary school and has been in nearly every position in the food industry there is. She has worked as a line cook in busy NYC kitchens, as a cooking instructor, started her own food blog, as a private chef, and in catering. Most notably, Casey has appeared on national television programs like The Chew & competed on {and won} Food Network’s Cooks v. Cons. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Casey took her culinary skills to front-line workers supporting groups like FLAG, which have been providing resources for local heroes. Casey can be found sharing her daily recipes and juggling family life on social media allowing her followers a glimpse into her life as a chef. 

 Read More: Women in Sports: Local Leaders in the Industry That We Admire


Nur-E Gulshan Rahman

Chef + Owner of Korai Kitchen

korai kitchen owners

Homestyle Bengali food is not something that can be commonly found in the States, but for Chef Nur-E Gulshan Rahman, there’s no other way. After learning to cook the traditional cuisine of Bangladesh, Nur-E broke into the competitive New York culinary scene and has not looked back since. After many business ventures, including owning and operating a convenience store for thirteen years, Nur-E–affectionately known as Mama Rahman– and her daughter opened Korai Kitchen. Guests can find some of Nur-E’s favorite dishes she learned to cook as a child–truly gaining the experience of eating some of the most authentic Bengali food in the state. Nur-E is also the owner of New Hilsa Grocery Store, which supplies many of the ingredients for the restaurant. Guests are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the food and culture by digging in with their hands and eating the traditional way.


Emma Taylor

Head Chef + Owner Milk Sugar Love

Emma Taylor

Coming from a career as an Art Director at Conde Nast, Emma Taylor launched a successful career switch in 2009. While working at another food establishment, Emma decided to go full force with her own plan. She opened Milk Sugar Love, a small-batch ice cream shop focused on sustainability and locally sourced ingredients, in 2013. Throughout its existence, Emma has grown Milk Sugar Love in various ways that have included an ice cream truck and additional location. Emma carefully curates unique flavors like Bacon Breakfast, Sour Cream Blueberry, Rosemary Toffee Pine Nut, Orange Marzipan, and more bringing a particular charm to the shop that locals have come to love.  


Jasmine Bruno

Owner of Occasions Catering and Cupcakery 

Jasmine Bruno

Jasmine Bruno has known of her love for cooking for quite some time. She took a liking to work with food as a young girl and started offering catering services at the age of 21 serving the CUNY Colleges in NYC. After a short time away from the kitchen during pregnancy, she decided to nurture the more creative side of her skills by taking certification courses in cake design. In 2012, Jasmine decided to go into business with her sister, Janette, and Occasions Catering & Cupcakery was born. The business offers catering and cupcakes for special events of any size. 


Jennifer Bunce-Timmons

Owner + Head Pastry Chef at Hudson Cakery 

Jennifer Bunce-Timmons

Hudson Cakery is certainly a crowd favorite amongst local residents, but this business would not exist without Owner and Head Pastry Chef, Jennifer Bunce-Timmons, following her dreams. After receiving a degree in Journalism & Media, Jennifer jumped right into a corporate career in PR & Event Planning. She stayed in the corporate world for about five years, but her heart was set on a different path. In 2008, Jennifer decided to turn her hobby of baking and a life-long love of dessert into a career by attending the Institute of Culinary Education. Jennifer held a handful of positions around NYC before ultimately opening her own shop. Hudson Cakery was born in 2009 and has afforded Jennifer the honor of receiving non-stop accolades and press for the past twelve years. Jennifer and the team at Hudson Cakery have been featured in countless magazines and on television shows for their incredible taste and cake design—particularly for weddings. The bakery has been named to the bridal magazine, The Knot’s, Hall of Fame six times, has been featured in WeddingWire’s Bride’s Choice Awards eight times and as a part of the NJ Bride’s Love It Award six times. Hudson Cakery is in Weehawken and is by appointment only. 


Jennifer Choi

Pastry Chef + Owner of Sugarsuckle 

Jennifer Choi

Jennifer Choi has coined herself the leader of “the sweetest team in town.” After being formally trained in culinary school, Jennifer took the food world by storm. She has experience working in a fast-paced, Michelin-star, New York City restaurant where she was able to learn the ins and outs of working in a kitchen of that caliber. She also worked in a busy retail bakery which was the precursor to her current position as owner and head chef at Sugarsuckle. Sugarsuckle is a custom-order bakery offering desserts with a clean, modern finish. Jennifer created Sugarsuckle with the mission to provide desserts that are simply delicious and beautifully designed. Along with her team, Jennifer believes that high-quality ingredients can speak for themselves and that less is more when it comes to elegant designs for special occasions. In addition to taking custom orders, Jennifer has created a weekly line-up of menu items that can be ordered and picked-up around Hoboken as well as a series of classes for kids to have fun while learning baking skills. 


Carolyn Fraizier

Owner of Carolyn’s Soul Food

carolyn soul food

Carolyn’s Soul Food is — you guessed it — the ultimate delicious comfort food, created in 2008 and located in Jersey City. Get more info here. The restaurant, run by a mother-son team, has been serving the West Bergen Neighborhood since 2008, when Carolyn Fraizier, the chef and mastermind behind the restaurant’s hearty, home-style food, decided to pour her life-long passion for cooking and serving into this small business endeavor.

Julie Hartigan

Professional Chef + Recipe Developer; Owner of Cooking w/Julie

Julie Hartigan

After a career as an industrial engineer, Chef Julie Hartigan decided to take on a career in culinary arts. She studied culinary arts and culinary management at The Institute of Culinary Education. In addition to maintaining her own food blog, Julie’s recipe development skills have been utilized by top brands like Food Network, SHAPE Magazine, WW, Bed Bath & Beyond, and more. Julie has worked as a private chef for families in Hoboken as well as an instructor during her own cooking courses. Dozens of unique recipes can be found on her site that which developed with the home cook in mind. 


Kelly Zavala

Chef Instructor Hudson Table

Kelly Zavala

While many may think moving around like a child in a military family can be daunting, Chef Kelly Zavala used this opportunity as inspiration for her current career. Kelly is a personal chef and Chef Instructor at Hudson Table. She is able to draw on both her experience as a part of a military family as well as her Salvadorian and Guatemalan background to bring unique flavors and cooking styles to any plate.  Kelly graduated from The French Culinary Institute in 2007 and has worked in kitchens throughout New York and New Jersey since. Kelly specializes in using local ingredients to give a seasonal spin to each meal making a custom experience for each guest she serves. 


Maricel Priscilla

Chef of the former Cucharamama + Zafra 

Maricel Priscilla

Maricel Priscilla needs no introduction to those in the food industry. The only thing vaster than her list of accomplishments is her love for food and bringing people together around a table. Maricel is best known as the chef of former Hoboken restaurants Cucharamama and Zafra, but her footprint expands even wider than the Mile Square. She is the first Latin American woman to have been invited as a guest chef at The White House, where she had the honor of cooking for President and First Lady Obama. Maricel has been nominated for four James Beard Awards and won Best Chef Mid-Atlantic in 2012. Her cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America was also recognized by The James Beard Foundation as Cookbook of the Year in 2013. Maricel’s specialty lies in the cuisines of Spain and Latin America as it’s not only a part of her heritage but has been the catalyst for the focus of her studies. Maricel holds a doctorate in medieval Spanish history from NYU and has been formally trained in cultural anthropology. Outside of the kitchen, Maricel has contributed to numerous publications internationally and is involved in countless food-focused organizations. While Cucharamama and Zafra may not call Hoboken home anymore, Maricel’s contributions to the city and the world of food at-large continue to reign. 


Michelle Berkes

Certified Natural Chef + Owner of Busy Bee Organics

Michelle Berkes

After overcoming an eating disorder that started in her teens and lasted through her twenties, chef Michelle Berkes knew that she was depriving her body of nutrients with seemingly no end in sight. Michelle found a health-supportive culinary school that started a life-changing transformation. She earned her BS in Dietetic Nutrition from The Natural Gourmet Institute, which was the catalyst to starting Busy Bee Organics—a health-supportive, flavorful grab-and-go style food for every lifestyle. Michelle has taken her story and now has a mission to help others realize their health potential through food. 

See More: Local Female Leaders We Admire


Sara Kartzmer Fry

Chef Instructor + Head of Kids Program at Hudson Table; Owner of Sara’s Wholesome Kitchen

Sara Kartzmer Fry

Chef Sara Kartzmer Fry calls herself a health-supportive chef with a sweet tooth. While many would think healthy and dessert do not go together, Chef Sara has proven otherwise. Sara is currently a Chef Instructor and the Head of Kids Programs at Hudson Table. Sara has known from a young age that cooking was the clear choice as a career path. She graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute where she honed her love of wholesome cooking. Sara also has a passion for sharing her love of cooking with children. Throughout her career, Sara has held numerous roles that allow her to feed this passion by teaching children how to cook with seasonal ingredients. Through her independent endeavors, Sara has created Sara’s Wholesome Kitchen. Her business offers a variety of services including personal chef services, private dinners, pantry stocking, kids’ classes, an organic dessert menu, and more. Chef Sara weaves her skill of farm-to-table cooking throughout every service she offers and supports local farms in and near Hudson County. 


Tara Glick 

Co-Executive Chef at Porter  

Tara Glick 

Tara Glick has more than ten years in the food industry under her belt. She is a trained chef having studied Classic Pastry Art at the International Culinary Center in New York. Tara has experience in some of the area’s top kitchens as well as experience on the business side of the food industry as a member of the beverage team at Eataly. Tara is now the Executive Pastry Chef at Porter in Weehawken. She works alongside Executive Chef Christopher Lim after having worked together at American Cut in Atlantic City, NJ. Desserts by Tara at Porter include decadent treats like mascarpone cheesecake, tiramisu affogato, passion fruit tart, banana pudding cake, and chocolate cake. 


Tennille Ortiz

Pastry Chef + Owner of The Cupcake Carriage 

Tennille Ortiz

Like so many chefs in the industry, Tennille Ortiz decided to leave a corporate career to follow her passion for working in the culinary world. She started as a self-taught baker thinking that her creations would mostly be enjoyed by family and friends. She continued to perfect her craft and realized a natural talent for creating beautiful desserts, leading her to get a more formalized education in pastry arts through classes with top NYC pastry chefs. Shortly after finishing the courses, The Ellinnet Cake Creation was established. The Ellinnet Cake Creation is a business offering expertly designed cakes for special occasions and corporate events. After finding success here, Tennille started her next business venture—The Cupcake Carriage. The Cupcake Carriage started as a kids’ birthday party service that allowed children to gather, decorate cupcakes and celebrate turning a year older. However, just as Tennille was starting up, the COVID-19 Pandemic struck and she quickly shifted gears. The Cupcake Carriage is now a food truck that can be caught hanging out around town offering cupcakes, cookies, and other sweet treats. Through her business’s whimsical and kid-friendly designs, she hopes to inspire the next generation to learn about food and consider the power of entrepreneurship. 


Kiersten Gormeley

Co-founder + Executive Chef of Shaka Bowl

Kiersten Gormeley

Kiersten and her sister Krista moved to the town of Hilo located on the Big Island of Hawaii where they learned about the “Hawaiian way” and gained the inspiration that would lead to the creation of Shaka Bowl. To these sisters, the Hawaiian way meant more than just the way the locals lived. It meant living better. It meant eating wholesome, fresh, nutritious food. It meant living an active yet relaxed lifestyle. In 2015 they returned to their home state of New Jersey with a plan to share the Hawaiian way via the creation of Shaka Bowl. Kiersten is the genius behind the delicious and innovative food at Shaka Bowl. She’s always introducing new items on the menu, keeping it fresh and fun for customers.

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Written by:

Jordan and Joelle, contributors and volunteer coordinators to HobokenGirl are true Jersey Girls. Originally hailing from down the shore in Hazlet, NJ, the girls made their "rite of passage" move to Hoboken a few short years after graduating with degrees in Communications from Loyola University. Outside of their 9-5 as senior publishers in NYC, the twins can be found baking cookies, reading the latest books, or walking their yorkie-poo Chica. Like many 20-somethings, Jordan and Joelle are balling on a budget and know how to score the best deals around town


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