Canteen Celebrates Chef Appreciation Week With Our Powerful Female Chefs

chef appreciation week 2019

You’ve seen it depicted in movies, TV, and books – working in the world of culinary is no easy feat; you need to be tough, creative, and most of all, passionate. And that’s exactly what our female culinarians are! We are spotlighting four of our hard working female chefs, in conjunction with Compass Group’s Chef Appreciation Week, to share their love of food and advice on being a female chef in a male-dominated industry.

Roberta Zacoda
Chef Manager in the Canteen Mid-Atlantic Division.

Her love of food started at the age of five when she learned how to make pasta with her grandmother. Her grandmother would cut the pasta. Roberta would roll it. By the time she was 11 years old, she was cooking Sunday dinners under her grandmother’s supervision. Let’s learn a bit more about the Queen of homemade pizza. roberta photo

What’s your favorite meal to cook at home?

My favorite meal to cook at home is Pizza from scratch. My family is mostly vegetarian so I can easily accommodate everyone with pizza. Sauces are my thing so I can change the sauces easily with my hack.

Can you share your sauce hack with us?

I use pesto in a lot of my cooking. At the end of summer, I dedicate one weekend to harvest all my basil and make pesto. I then freeze the pesto in ice cube trays to use throughout the year.


Roberta says, “My favorite part of the day is the look of satisfaction on my guest’s faces. We do this because we love it and we love it when we please our guest.”


What advice would you give to future female culinarians?

Never let anyone tell you, “You Can’t”.  When I was just starting out, it was the early 80’s and I was told I should go into Pastries. But I knew what I wanted and I held my own in a field predominantly made of men at the time.



gm ada photo

Ada Hernandez
General Manager in the Canteen Southeast Division

First things first, let’s give Ada a round of applause. Her team won Canteen’s 2019 Be A Star Dining Center of the Year Award. That’s big news! Get to know Ada.

Where did your love of food come from?
My parents owned a family business where traditional home cooking was served. It all started of ada hernandez

Ada’s favorite meal to cook at home is ‘Vegetarian Mofongo,’ a Puerto Rican dish. She uses her creativity to produce a dish that looks and tastes exquisitely delicious, even though the ingredients are quite simple.

What advice would you give to future female culinarians?
My advice would be to use all of your passion and dedication.




sr executive chef brett

Brett Feuersthaler
Sr. Executive Chef in the Canteen Midwest Division

Chef Brett Feuersthaler determined the path for her life at a very young age. The quote that changed the life of this Midwest Division Sr. Executive Chef is, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” She heard Cookie Monster on Sesame Street recite that Virginia Woolf quote when she was six years old and she decided right then and there that she must be a chef so she could live a happy life.

What is your favorite part about creating and cooking? Do you have any fun hacks?

It’s all about the finished product – my favorite part. My children and I love to bake Rocky Road Brownies. As for hacks, my favorite is to use a shelled egg as a hydrometer to measure specific gravity.


Brett loves pushing flavors, finding inspiration in the smallest details and showing others how to bridge the gap between creativity and classic French technique.


What do you love most about coming to work every day?

coworker photoInstilling others with finding their own abilities so that they can refine, enhance and deliver an incredible culinary experience brings me to work with a pep in my step. The bonus of my workday is to see it all come to fruition; co-workers and guests alike with wide smiles on their faces.



amanda photo

Amanda Thornburg
Food Service Director in the Canteen Mid-South Division

Amanda’s whole life revolves around food – she bonded with her grandmother over family meals, married a fellow chef, and gets to work side by side with culinarians who inspire her. Her best piece of advice? Share your knowledge, experiences and strengths and always be willing to learn new things. This is Amanda.

Do you remember where your love of food came from?

My maternal grandmother. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house in Queens, NY. We have a large family so cooking for family meals was always a big “to do” – She made it look so easy, fun…, and delicious! And I love how everyone gathers in the kitchen, just to hang out and be together.

What’s your favorite meal to cook when you’re at home?

My husband (a former chef) is a Type 1 Diabetic, so we try not to eat many carbs. We love to cook a variety of veggies at home. Just simple cooking like using butter, salt and pepper, and high quality items are the best. I also love to make pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie this time of year.

Do you have a recipe you love that you can share with us?
One thing I love to make at work (and the customers love it, too!) is a Cherry Chocolate Molten Cake.

1 box of brownie mix with ingredients needed
1 can of cherry pie filling (to replace water)

    • Mix and Bake in a ½ hotel pan
    • Serve hot with vanilla ice cream

We definitely need to try that! What’s your favorite part about coming to work every day?

For me, the best part of my job is our team. I feel very fortunate to have a team that cares about great quality and service. Also, where we work is special to me. We serve active and former military whose day-to-day job is to protect our country. I feel like we’re a part of something.


Our female chefs continue to prove how inspiring and dedicated they are to Canteen’s success. Their passion jumps off the page as they talk about food and the people they work with. They have each taught us to say ‘Yes, I can,” go after what you love, and the kitchen is really where the heart is.

To read more about Chef Appreciation Week and Compass Group’s Super Chefs, please click here.