Michele Baker Benesch is a Miami native with a passion to helping our community stay true to it’s roots while becoming a mecca power city. She graduated from Palmer Preparatory High School, then earned her undergraduate degree from University of Miami with a BA in Business Marketing. After working in corporate marketing for ten years, Michele opened a division of her family’s company Menu Men in New York City. Upon returning to Miami to assume the leadership role with Menu Men, Michele realized the realize lack of awareness for fresh local produce and products in the community she cherished. She immediately became a member of Slow Food Miami and supported the movement through attending events. Five years ago Michele wanted to help make a difference and joined the Board of Directors as the Farm to Table Director. She created our current Hidden Kitchens fundraising program as well as initiated The Snail of Approval Program here is Miami. Three years ago Michele accepted the Presidency and has been passionate about helping Slow Food Miami grow and making a difference in our community through all of our amazing outreach programs.
Michele also sits on the Miami Children’s Hospital Wien, Women and Shoes Committee, Big Brothers, Big Sisters gala committee and is a member of Beaux Arts.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Sean Reichert has worked as a Realtor with Grove Properties for nearly 20 years. Prior to moving to Miami, he majored in Business at Point Park College and at the age of 17 became the youngest elected official in the state. During his 18 years of service, he represented numerous communities and served as a liaison between local, state, and federal agencies.
Inspired by his Irish grandmother, Sean has been a life long gardener. He is an active member and past President of the Coconut Grove Garden Club. In recent years he has directed his energies toward sharing his passion for gardening with children and adults alike through his service with Slow Food Miami. As the longest serving Board member of the organization, Sean has served as both Director of Education and as Member at Large. Over the past nine years he has overseen the planting of several hundred organic raised bed gardens. These gardens have been planted in both public and private schools, as well as community gardens including the Viscaya Farm of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Harvests from the farm, which had previously laid dormant for 80 years, are currently used by local chefs in cooking classes. The Slow Food Miami Garden Program has become the model program for Slow Food U.S.A
Pascale van Kipnis was born and raised in New York City where she studied at the School of American Ballet and then joined the New York City Ballet in 1992. She was promoted to the rank of soloist in 1999 and retired in 2006. Making little beings from scratch started her curiosity into where things came from, how things were made or grown. Since then and now 4 children later, she continues to be an avid consumer and supporter of clean, local and sustainable living. Pascale joined the board of Slow Food Miami as the treasurer in January of 2016 and also serves on Slow Food Miami’s Snail of Approval committee.
Allyce Perret-Gentil was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She graduated from Westminster Christian School and from there received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Florida Gulf Coast University. After having difficulty finding a hospital nursing job, Allyce was offered to teach a High School Health class. Her spark for education grew, especially in health education. It became a goal of hers to encourage children and teens to eat vegetables and take care of themselves. She worked for five years as the school nurse at St. Philip’s Episcopal School in Coral Gables. She started a Board of Health at her school, with the help of some parents, and their goal was to introduce fresh and local snacks to the children at their school on a daily basis. Allyce always tells children in her classes, “Some of us may choose careers that involve more math than history or more English than science. Yet being educated on how to take care of ourselves affects everybody”. Although Allyce loved her position at St. Philip’s, she was offered a very exciting position to help start the non-profit organization Wellness in the Schools down here in South Florida. Wellness in the Schools inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness, and fitness as a way of life for kids in public schools.
Carol López-Bethel returned to Miami after living in Washington, DC and México City for many years. She has over 30 years in International Commercial Real Estate including asset management for the U.S State Department in 25 countries. Since retiring, she continues to travel the world with a new focus as a certified wine consultant, educator and blogger, an avid gardener of edible gardens and promoter of the Slow Food lifestyle.
Alex Ackerhalt hails from Buffalo, New York (the “Miami of the North”). He earned a BA from SUNY Albany. Alex spent nearly 2 decades in the financial industry, including 15 years on the trading floors in Chicago. As a member of the CBOE, CME, and CBOT, Alex served on committees at the exchange level as well as serving as an industry arbitrator. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, Daniela, and children, Stefan and Julia. Alex believes that in the age of technology, instant gratification and disposable everything, it is important to learn and teach about the importance of wellness, healthy eating habits, and supporting local farms and businesses.
Chef Aaron Dreilinger is partner and co-owner of Chef David Catering and Event Design, one of Miami’s premier gastronomic event planning enterprises. Originally a student of sustainable agriculture, Chef Aaron became drawn to nutrition and the culinary arts at a young age. His cuisine combines elements of American grass-roots ingredients, international influences, and old-world classical culinary tradition. Classically trained and a student of Johnson and Wales University, Chef Aaron draws from extensive travel in Southeast Asia, India, and Australia, while keeping strong ties with American Slow Food. Highlights of Chef Aaron’s career include Executive Chef of Celebrity Cruises, Sous Chef for Quattro Gastronomia, several Michelle Bernstein projects, and director of nonprofit Earth Learning Foundation’s Community Food Works. Accolades include Slow Food’s “Snail of Approval,” a handful of Presidential dinners, and work with Food Network productions. As co-owner of Chef David Catering, Chef Aaron prides himself in bringing restaurant quality cuisine beyond the confines of dining room walls. Strong ties to South Florida’s farm-to-table movement as well as Miami’s fine dining scene, make for a uniquely delicious background. This year Chef Aaron joins the board of Miami Slow Foods helping to spread farm to table and sustainable practices in South Florida. An artist and chef at heart, his food has been described as “simply complex, boldly understated, and tastefully elegant.”
Jennifer started in the beverage industry in 1994 with Cognac giant, Remy Martin, in her hometown of Vancouver, BC. In 1997, exploring her love for wines, she moved to Santiago, Chile where she spent three years at Concha y Toro, developing their national sales, hospitality, and wine education programs. The next few years would bring a growing family and Jennifer’s first move to the U.S.A. where she helped found the Miami International Wine Fair. Since 2012 Jennifer has run The Liquid Projects, a consultancy she founded to highlight artisan brewers and distillers in her varied beverage projects. Under-the-belt projects in Miami include Gin & Collins for AC Hotels by Marriott, Wunderbar for Circa 39 and the newly opened Bar Journe for F.P.Journe. Jennifer joined Slow Food Miami in 2018.
Linken Nigel D’Souza is a 20-year Food & Beverage operations veteran. He started his career in Switzerland in boutique 5-star hotels in the Geneva area while completing his formal education in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
After graduating from the Hotel Institute of Montreux, he returned to Dubai working with the Jumeriah International group. He moved to Canada in the late ’90s working in hotels in Toronto. He later joined Darden restaurants and over a 13 year period with the Red Lobster brand, he grew to VP of Operations running Canada and the US Great Lakes. In 2017 he moved to Miami and joined Royal Caribbean International leading the Global Culinary, Food and Beverage operation for the world’s largest cruise line.
A consummate leaner in 2016 he was earned his CFBE designation (Certified Food and Beverage Executive). He is currently pursuing his MBA in Hospitality and Tourism from the University of Guelph in Canada.
Alyssa Bantle jokes that she has been a supporter of the Slow Food lifestyle most of her life. As a child, when visiting her grandparents in the Blackforest in Germany, she was always the first at the table and loved to help her grandparents in their kitchen and garden. Growing up in Chicago and spending summers in Germany, she experienced at an early age the importance of food as a reflection of a culture and that culture’s identity. As an adult, she continued to be drawn to other cultures. She began her international career in Italy and over the years has lived and worked in Japan, and Germany. She feels fortunate to not only have worked in those locations in the intercultural training and coaching field but to also have learned from the locals about how to be deeply connected to the food you eat and where it comes from. Alyssa feels she has come full circle in being able to apply that knowledge and passion as a board member of Slow Food Miami.
Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, CCMS, LMHC, FAND, Chef Nutritionist, The Running Nutritionist ®, Lisa is an award-winning leader to industry, academia, hospitality, the public & press. She has built a global Integrative Sports Nutrition & Performance Practice, consulting to Olympian, Professional, Collegiate & Junior athletes; served as the US Sailing Olympic Team Nutritionist for the Beijing Olympics & Nutrition Expert for Zumba® Plate Program. She has worked with some of Hollywood’s Award-winning actors/actresses who have appeared in Avengers, Gone Girl, Iron Man 3, Book Thief, 13 Hours, & The Glades. The ‘17 Recipient of the National Excellence in Practice Award (DIFM) & author of 8 books, including Legally Lean: Sports Nutrition Strategies for Optimal Health & Performance, she has appeared on 20/20, Dateline, Good Morning America Health, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and ESPN & has been featured in numerous publications: USA Today, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Food & Wine, People, Outside & Runners World magazines. A competitive runner and triathlete, Lisa has competed in more than 35 marathons (PR 2:52:32), Ironman USA Lake Placid, and hundreds of running and multisport races, Lisa competed on TEAM USA at the ’04 World Long Distance Duathlon Championships, Frederica, Denmark. Lisa received her Chef Apprentice Certificate from the Miami Dade College, Miami Culinary Institute Program where she serves as Chair of the Advisory Board & Enthusiast Series Culinary Instructor. She is a Board Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist, completed the Culinary Medicine Program at the Goldring Center, Tulane Medical School and interned with Chef Jamie Simpson at The Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) Chef’s Garden.