Zagat’s list of “30 Under 30 Rock Stars Redefining the Industry,” is designed to honor professionals in the hospitality business. For the past six years the famous restaurant review site has limited its list of honorees to major markets – or “foodie cities” – such as New York and Los Angeles. 2017 marks the first year that the list was open to national nominees.
Even with the wider pool of possible industry players, Melissa Denmark, the executive pastry chef at Gracie’s Restaurant and Ellie’s Bakery – both in Providence – secured a place of honor.
At just 28-years-old, Denmark has worked in all facets of the hospitality industry, from baking bread on a dairy farm and decorating cakes to bouncing between the front and back of the house at several restaurants.
Zagat wrote: “At Gracie’s, Denmark works with a small team to create tasting menus consisting of around seven different desserts each night, while at Ellie’s she assists in large-scale productions, churning out laminated doughs, French macarons and more in the wee hours of the night.”
“She finds the work at Gracie’s to be relaxing despite the sometimes chaotic nature of dinner service, saying, “Some of the work is very meticulous but it’s also centering; it’s quiet and you can just concentrate on the plate design.” Denmark likes to challenge herself and experiment with new ingredients and flavor profiles, earning praise for her light, savory-sweet creations.”
Denmark is also a farmer, working with her wife, Jordan Goldsmith on their Moonrose Farm in Cranston.
Only one other New England chef made Zagat’s list this year.
THANK YOU @zagat for including our fearless leader @ireneshiangli in the first-ever national #30Under30 list! We're so proud of the littlest Mei Mei, especially her efforts behind the scenes to make the restaurant industry a more equitable place, like through our partnership with #RethinkRestaurants. Hooray! Check out the #linkinprofile to read all about it! #zagat #zagat30under30 #soproud #bigsiblingbrag #littlestmeimei #meimeiboston
27-year-old Irene Li is a co-founder of Mei Mei – a Brookline, Massachusetts restaurant and foodtruck business.