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August 14, 2022

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Pamela Silvestri, food editor for the Staten Island Advance/, was recently accepted into Les Dames d’Escoffier, an organization dedicated to women in food, beverage and hospitality.

Founded in 1976, the organization created a space for women in the male-dominated food industry, inspired by the all-male group Les Amis d’Escoffier. The organization has chapters in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia and Boston, according to its website.

The organization says its mission is to “inspire, empower and support women in food, beverage and hospitality to achieve excellence in leadership and charity.”

“What I love is that they embrace the idea of ​​mentorship,” Silvestri said.

One of her personal mentors is Amy Zavatto, the first Staten Islander to join Les Dames and the author of several cookbooks. Zavatto encouraged Silvestri to apply to the organization.

Silvestri is the former owner of the American Grill, the first Michelin Star restaurant on Staten Island.

With family roots in the restaurant business, the Staten Island native studied local architecture and urban planning at Bryn Mawr College — but always knew it would end up in the food business.

“I have a lot of experience in food service from the ground up,” Silvestri said.

“Many people think that the restaurant business is interesting, but the truth is that there should be a big difference, you know, from the knowledge of plumbing and electricity to how to put a plate .”

After returning to Staten Island for college, Silvestri met her husband, David Cavagnaro, as they partnered to start a catering company in Catholic High School cafeterias.

“The Staten Island Advance did a review of our restaurant’s food, which launched our company into another stratosphere,” he said.

From there, they opened the Michelin / Zagat-rated American Grill, a beloved restaurant with testimonials from loyal customers hanging on the walls. In 2006, the couple sold the restaurant before starting a family.

Silvestri was then offered a position at Advance, where he had previously worked as a teenager. “I really immersed myself in all the different foods that came to Staten Island.”

He expressed his gratitude for the female food directors who preceded him at Advance, including Jane Milza, who died last year. “The Staten Island Advance has been outstanding for its restaurants and food writing. All the time.”

Silvestri was recently honored with New York News Publishers Association awards for reporting, for excellence in Staten Island restaurant coverage, and for column writing, featuring her work in Pamela’s Food Service Diary.

Meanwhile, Silvestri of Les Dames said, “It is very exciting because it brings many years of food service and literature about the industry to another level … [an opportunity to] share understand in another way.”

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