We all love LinkedIn, but actual—as opposed to virtual—networking is still the most powerful tool for businesspeople seeking to make those crucial connections. Whether the goal is to advance your career, land new customers, build your brand, or find your next superstar employee, working the room and shaking hands reigns supreme.
Now, Westchester’s businesswomen have a new networking outlet aimed at helping them connect with other similar-minded, savvy female professionals: FemCity Westchester, the county chapter of a national women’s professional group called Femfessionals. Launched in Miami in 2009, Femfessionals is a national network (20,000 members in 53 chapters across the US and Canada) that aims to “bring women together in a positive and uplifting way… to support each other in business, community activities, and life. ”
The Westchester chapter started last year, spearheaded by Scarsdale resident Natasha Mehta, president of FemCity Westchester, who owns jewelry brand Tijorie and is the head esthetician at Glo Beauty Bar in White Plains. Mehta and six board members are working to expand the chapter’s reach in the county. The group has grown to include 41 members, who are “a diverse group of women that want to form strategic connections to support their business and social circles,” Mehta explains. “Many of us are entrepreneurs and we know the importance of building our brands, so we try to promote one another’s businesses and help bring out the best in ourselves.”
Monthly meetings include networking events, guest speakers, seminars on current business trends, and a mix of inspirational and fun workshops. FemCity Westchester also hosts a philanthropic event once per quarter and has a collegiate group aimed at helping younger women make business connections. The events are usually hosted by a member whose business pertains to the meeting topic. At its recent social media networking event, for instance, a member who runs a marketing firm was the guest speaker, explains Mehta, whose overall aim with the group is to “help create a gateway for women to build relationships and engage with each other in the Westchester community.”
FemCity Westchester offers two types of memberships: the Premium Member fee is $100 for one year, and a Premium Life Member fee is $300. FemCity Westchester’s next event, “Speed Network Your Way To Success,” will be held on Wednesday, May 14 at NoMa Social in New Rochelle.
For more information, email Westchester@femfessionals.com; or visitwww.facebook.com/groups/femcitywestchester/
Source: Total Food Service
It may not have been the most direct or routine way to start a career. But for Bill Rosenberg, executive chef at NoMa Social, it’s led only to success.
Starting out cooking with his grandma at 14, then jumping into the business, then out again to the Culinary Institute, where he received a good, basic foundation, then back to being a chef at some of Manhattan’s greatest restaurants, Rosenberg feels he’s now right where he should be.Starting out cooking with his grandma at 14, then jumping into the business, then out again to the Culinary Institute, where he received a good, basic foundation, then back to being a chef at some of Manhattan’s greatest restaurants, Rosenberg feels he’s now right where he should be, running a restaurant that has combined great food with celebrities and the Westchester community, all coming together to celebrate experiences that have splashed NoMa Social across the front pages of magazines and newspapers.
Why did you decide to go back to school when you had already been out working in the restaurant world?
I was everybody-in-the-world’s sous chef and couldn’t break that ceiling to executive chef. I figured I’d go to school and get that diploma, which I did. But then everybody figured I was just out of school. When I was applying for chef jobs, they’d look at my resume and say, ‘oh you just graduated from school,’ they saw me as a newbie. But it was a great experience. I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.
What did you do next?
I went right down to the city and began working at a lot of high-end places, The Trojan, The Sign of the Dove. I really loved the city. It’s a different energy altogether, a good place to work. It’s full of hard knocks and ups and downs.
How did you wind up in Westchester?
My wife was tired of driving me back and forth to the city, so I ended up working in Westchester, at Two Moons in Port Chester. A beautiful commute! We got some really great reviews. I was with that owner for 16 years. Then he opened in Greenwich, a place called Dome, so we moved up there and started Barcelona Wine Bar. I did all their menus and they’re still using them today. Then we opened up F.I.S.H., a popular sea food restaurant, in Port Chester.
What came next?
I wanted to grow a little more so I went to Barcelona Wine Bar, just me and the two owners, at the time. I worked for four years, and it was a great experience. Those guys really know the business. They’re young, they’re energetic. We were really trying to crank out the best possible food we could, using the best possible ingredients, sourcing different things from all over the world. After we closed F.I.S.H., I went to Greenwich and Stamford for a while. Then I moved down here and created NoMa Social at the Radisson in New Rochelle.
What does NoMa stand for?
North of Manhattan!
What kind of food do you serve there?
We’re doing a tapas kind of scenario. We try to keep it fun and energetic. This way people can be social and eat and have fun and not be tied to one specific entrée. It’s clubby, it’s a diverse crowd. A lot of people stay at the hotel, have their wedding at the beach club and then come back here to have the party on the weekend.
What does it take to be successful with a suburban restaurant? How does it differ from New York?
Even more so than in the city, where people walk in off the streets, here you have to be honest to the customer and provide value. You have to want people to come to your place, and be hospitable. A lot of people lose that we’re in the hospitality business.
We try to give people a city-like feel, the vibe of a social environment. The rooms are a large space, with a lounge-y type of seating, couches, like in a living room, that kind of experience. You can get full service in any of those areas.
Tell me about the menu.
We wanted to have a business where people come more than once a week, so we have a wide selection, from charcuterie to foie gras, all walks. For people in the hotel we have to have more variety than most.
Who makes up your clientele, mostly hotel guests or locals, too?
Originally it was almost all hotel guests. Then we tried to spread our wings a little and now we see it flipping. We’re getting more of the bedroom community coming to us.
How do you work with your staff?
We try to corral the staff in a family environment. We want to accommodate people’s schedules. They do have a life outside the restaurant and we respect that. We try to support birthdays, social events, that kind of thing.
Who are your suppliers?
We try to balance everybody off to get the best possible price. Our meat guy was a student with me at the Culinary Institute and we worked at Two Moons together, so he knows what I like. On produce I use everyone -- Baldor, Sierra, sometimes Sysco. I do try to shy away from mom-and-pops.
How did you find the kitchen at the hotel?
OMG, the kitchen was terrible. The oven didn’t work, the stove didn’t work. We inherited a lot of problems. Remember, the hotel’s been here 30 years. But the owner was nice enough to build me out a new kitchen, a new line of appliances.
There are specific features on the menu that Montague helped us accomplish – especially one of its griddles. A lot of our items come off there, and we can use it as a sauté pan. With any kind of volume, it really comes in handy.
What about marketing? I understand you are doing some very unusual things.
We’ve gotten so much press. We do a Food Perspective, a Weekly Perspective. We’ve brought in so many celebrities that we’ve been able to switch from an advertising angle to a press angle. Stories about us instead of ads. We’ve saved a bundle! But it’s been so much fun. Last year we started our summer bash, headlined by 20-25 different celebrities from the music industry, reality stars, Patty Stanger of the Millionaire Matchmatcher, cast members from Bravo shows. Two hundred people came out and we had coverage from every outlet we could have asked for. Tamra Barney from the Real Housewives of Orange County had her bachelorette party here.
In June we’re having our 2nd anniversary party, and we’re going to take the stuffiness out of wine tasting, some fun wines paired with certain tapas. It’s just been consistent every single month, something new comes out or we put together a special event.
It’s an unusual approach – we look at the community at the same time as being a restaurant. We’re in the business of meals but we’re also in the business of creating a community, a place for everyone.
by Jeanne Muchnick
Source: The Journal News
Colby Brock, center, the general manager of the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle speaks with Emily Montalvo, left, and Natasha Richardson at the hotel.
(Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)Colby Brock likes to say she has two babies — her 4-month-old daughter, Harlow, and the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, where she works as general manager.
Brock practically grew up in the business, learning from her father (and role model), Peter Brock, a partner in Brock Development Corp., a family-owned company that specializes in the acquisition, development, redevelopment, management, leasing and maintenance of commercial real estate assets in New York, Florida and other states across the country.
"I've been in the hospitality industry for 20 years," says the White Plains resident who distinctly remembers her first job interning as a front-desk agent at the Embassy Suites in Palm Beach, Florida.
Since taking over as general manager last August — right about the time she was starting her second trimester, her main priorities have been the hotel's new $1 million energy project, as well as adding outdoor dining to NoMa Social, the hotel's Mediterranean-style restaurant where she previously worked as food and beverage director. There has also been a concentration on creating innovative summer and fall guest room packages, adding local attractions to the mix, and putting together new menus for NoMa Social and the banquet department.
Lest one think she moved up the ranks based solely on her family connections, think again. Brock says her father wouldn't allow her to have a full-time job at any of his properties until she had gained some practical experience elsewhere. So she spent her late teens and early 20s working in a variety of hotels and restaurants in New York, Connecticut and Florida. "I wanted to do anything and everything to learn as much as I could, most times working two jobs and going to school full-time," she says. That included stints running the gamut from food expeditor to sales marketing assistant, to bartender and reservations manager.
Her Westchester career began at the Radisson in 1998 working as a front-desk agent before moving on to roles in food and beverage. At one point she went back to school to earn a degree in interior design and worked as a designer for a small firm on Long Island. Though she enjoyed it, she said she craved the daily hustle of the hotel business, which was when she came back to the property to help with the reinvention and renovation of NoMa Social, essentially bridging the gap between her design and hospitality experience.
She was also instrumental in the hotel's recent refurbishments of the guest rooms, lobby, ballrooms and bathrooms. The space is now much fresher and modern with a stylish aesthetic geared toward both leisure and business guests. "Our goal is to offer the services more aligned with a boutique urban property than what is typically expected in this area," she says. "My dad always told me that if you are good to your business, your business will be good to you. It's my job to present that in everything we do."
Who: Colby Brock
Her job: General manger, the Radisson Hotel, New Rochelle
How she got into the business: "I was born into it," she says. "This is a family business and I get joy and pleasure out of not only working alongside and for my father, but also knowing I'm building something for my family."
Best part of the job: "Balancing the 'mini businesses' that make up the business. There's food management. There's client relations. There's special events. There's design, and so on," she explains. Brock also says she enjoys working with her family — her dad, her husband, Mario, who she met on the job and who helps maintain the property — as well as her extended Radisson family plus "all the different types of people that walk in the door. ... I'm constantly learning things from the folks I meet, whether they are co-workers or guests," she says.
Most challenging part of the job: Working with her family. "What makes my job so wonderful is also what makes it challenging," she explains.
Tips for working your way up the ladder: "Put the time in and work hard. You have to constantly look for a challenge to make what you're doing better while always looking for what's next and constantly learning what's new. Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Always be truthful. Make what you are doing fun. I love the quote, 'If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.'"
Fun fact: She met her husband while working at NoMa Social. Someone called in sick, meaning she had to cover a bartending shift. "I poured him a drink, and now here we are," she says.
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