Celebrating More Women Around South Florida’s Dining Scene

In our final installment of our Women’s History Month series, we’re highlighting a few more noteworthy women rocking our hospitality industry with their talent, entrepreneurship and determination. 

Paula DaSilva – Chef, Burlock Coast

Paula has been working in the South Florida culinary scene for nearly two decades at restaurants, including 3030 Ocean at the Harbor Beach Marriott and 1500 Degrees at the Eden Roc. Today she’s the executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton’s entire Fort Lauderdale property, including its darling seaside restaurant Burlock Coast. Also, we can’t forget that she was the runner up on Hell’s Kitchen Season 5. When she’s not creating menus, cooking or overseeing her kitchen, she’s giving back to our community by volunteering for charities like Feeding South Florida, Junior Achievement and the Foodservice Council for Women. 

1 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954/302-6460; ritzcarlton.com

Monique Wilmot-Francis – Line Cook, Galley Restaurant

There’s great responsibility and endless hours of hard work when you work on the line in a kitchen. Monique’s father and her Jamaican heritage inspired her to attend culinary school. Today, Monique is willing and able to jump in and out of different stations but has mastered the salad station at this grill house located in the lobby of the Hilton West Palm Beach. 

600 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561/231-6100; galleywestpalmbeach.com

Niria Proa Perez – Co-owner, Taqueria Bonitas 

Honoring her Mexican roots and flavors, Niria and her husband Ricky Perez opened up their first pop up taco shop, Tacos & Hip Hop, in 2015. Over the years and with a lot of hard work, the couple turned it into the West Palm Beach staple Zipitios. Their newest venture is a pop up in Rosemary Square featuring guisados, or braised meats, from Niria’s home country.

600 South Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach; Order pickup here.

Jennifer Horev – Co-owner and Chief Brand Officer, Pura Vida  

Miami’s healthy eats restaurant has opened an outpost in Rosemary Square. Jennifer and husband Omer met as real estate professionals, and then quit their day jobs to fully transform the business into what it is today. Jennifer led the branding and décor initiatives to create a company that now boasts five locations that are all serving up fast but super healthy bowls, breakfast, smoothies, sandwiches, salads and juices.

460 South Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach; 305/535-4142; puravidamiami.com

Laura Lewis – Co-Owner, Okeechobee Steakhouse, Okeechobee Prime Meat Market and Okeechobee Prime Seafood 

With a background in nursing, Laura’s goal is to help people feel comfortable. She runs the entire operation with her husband Ralph and is there to support her team whenever she’s needed. Laura wants to make sure every guest that steps into any of the Okeechobee family of restaurants feels welcomed and has a memorable dining experience. 

2854 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach; 561/683-5151; okeesteakhouse.com

1959 Wabasso Dr, West Palm Beach; 561/570-7200; okeeprimemeats.com

2888 Shawnee Ave, West Palm Beach; 561/507-5113; okeeprimeseafood.com

THREE VENDORS AT THE DELRAY BEACH MARKET (OPENING APRIL 24):

Lee Mazor – Owner, Lovelee Bakeshop

After leaving her corporate gig behind to invest in her passion for baking, Lee worked at notable venues including The Four Seasons, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach and the beloved 32 East before opening up her own bakery in Fort Lauderdale. Her cakes, famous for their Italian meringue butter cream, are her signature. But make sure to try Lee’s other sweet treats, including cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting, when you stop by her new stall at the Market.

Raquel Abou – Owner, Ferdos Grill

As the owner of this restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Raquel is excited to bring her Mediterranean fare north to Delray. Here you’ll be able to choose from creamy hummus, an array of kabobs, gyros and warm kibbis stuffed with sautéed meat and onions.  

Amber Benjamin – Owner, Guaca Go

Food has always been a big part of Amber’s life. Growing up in New York, her father owned an Italian restaurant and cultivated her passion for good food. For four years, Amber, with her partner Carson Bennett, sold their guac bowls at live events and founded a catering company. Today Amber–who grew up visiting her grandparents in Delray every winter–is excited to bring her guacamole empire to the Ave.

Delray Beach Market: 33 SE 3rd Ave., Delray Beach; 561/562-7000; delraybeachmarket.com


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