Cleveland, We Have a Winner!

CLE Urban Winery founder Destiny Burns wins ‘Legacy’ Award from Les Dames d’Escoffier International

By Elaine Cicora

Members of the Cleveland chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International couldn’t be more proud of Destiny Burns, who earlier this spring was chosen as the 2020 winner of the Wine & Hospitality Award – one of six Legacy Awards given out annually by the parent organization.

A native Clevelander, Destiny was one of 53 international candidates vying for the prestigious awards, which provide targeted mentorship opportunities for professional women in the food, fine beverage, and hospitality industries.

Destiny is the founder and owner of CLE Urban Winery in Cleveland Heights. Her mentorship will be provided by Wente Family Estates in Livermore Valley, California, the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in the country. During her time with Wente, Destiny will enjoy in-depth mentoring by Dame Amy Hoopes, president; Dame Carolyn Wente, fourth generation winegrower and CEO; and Karl Wente, fifth generation winemaker and COO, learning about Wente Vineyards viticulture, winemaking, and wine and food pairing philosophies. She will also learn about the winery’s national branding strategies and marketing plans, and have an opportunity to tour and taste at other award-winning wineries around the Livermore Valley.

Cleveland Dame Shara Bohach has served on the Legacy Awards committee for 5 years – two years as chair – and helped review the applications. “Destiny embodies so many ideals of LDEI’s Legacy Awards, and is the perfect recipient of the wine award at Wente. Her drive to further her wine education, her generosity and support of her local community, her unique venture creating a winery that celebrates Cleveland and creates community, her history of service to others… These are all hallmarks of what we look for in a candidate.”

It’s been a long road to winemaking for this retired Navy officer and Russian linguist, who went on to work for 13 years as a development executive for large defense companies in Washington, D.C. But with her adult daughter launched and her own 50th birthday behind her, Destiny determined to move back to Cleveland and chart a new course. Her dream? A welcoming space for her neighbors to gather and learn about wine in a relaxed setting. In 2016, that dream blossomed into CLE Urban Winery on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.

The winery sources its grapes from around the country, freeing Destiny from the need to own a vineyard. Offerings include reds, whites, and fruit-infused wines – all brandishing labels that celebrate such local landmarks as Playhouse Square, Murray Hill, and Lake Erie.

But beyond just making wine, Destiny had another goal: building a sense of community, similar to what she had observed in Cleveland’s small craft-beer breweries.

Cleveland Dame and food stylist/recipe developer Melissa McClelland, a Cleveland Heights resident, nominated Destiny for the award, after being deeply moved by how quickly the winery grew into a neighborhood hub. “Cleveland Heights is an extraordinarily diverse place, but there are not many spots where a wide range of people come together and feel welcome,” Melissa notes. “But with the winery’s garage doors flung up and live music pouring out into the street, CLE Urban Winery quickly became a place for the entire neighborhood to check out. Destiny saw her business as a way to improve her city and bring us all together in a truly tasty way.”

As for Destiny, she says she is delighted with the opportunity the award provides. “For me, as a relative newcomer, to get to work with a multi-generational winery like Wente – and bring that learning back to Cleveland – is an absolute godsend, especially in these crazy times. I had no expectation whatsoever I would win the award, but I am absolutely thrilled! Personally and professionally, I think this will be a game changer.”

Please join all of us in congratulating Destiny on her accomplishment!


LDEI Cleveland Announces Scholarship Winner

By Paris Wolfe

Gabrielle Shipta
LDEI Cleveland Scholarship Recipient
Gabrielle Shipta, 25, received the 2020 Culinary Scholarship, sponsored by the Cleveland Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI). She will use the $2,000 prize to help with tuition as she pursues an associate degree in Hospitality Management with a focus on Culinary Arts at Cuyahoga Community College.

Gabrielle has long been interested in nutrition. “I started getting really into it in middle school,” says the Seven Hills resident. “My mom taught me to read food labels and we ate pretty healthy. I became more interested in nutrition and cooking thanks to a home economics class. The passion derived from there in wanting to keep improving my own health and eating.”

That led her to the dietetics program at Ohio University. Like many students she changed direction her junior year. She says, “I had an epiphany and realized that I like a hands-on approach. I liked cooking and food science.”

And so, Gabrielle shifted focus to culinary nutrition. “I learned a lot and worked more in a kitchen setting. I realized then that I didn’t want to be in a clinical setting, but in a kitchen.”

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in applied nutrition from OU in 2017. She immediately took a job as a part-time sous chef developing culinary medicine in the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at The Cleveland Clinic. There she works with Chef Jim Perko and helps patients learn more about food as medicine.

Working at The Cleveland Clinic expanded Gabrielle’s worldview and her desire for culinary skills. Thus, she enrolled in the two-year program at Cuyahoga Community College. Resistant to new student loans, she works two jobs – at The Cleveland Clinic and at Little Birdie Wine Nest in Parma – to earn tuition money.

“I really enjoy hospitality and being creative in the kitchen,” says Gabrielle. “I get pleasure out of serving others and what you can make and present. I like the busy-ness of it.”

During the COVID crisis, classes are online and work has changed. Gabrielle says she spends much more time at a desk. “I’m itching to get up and prep and cook. I miss the craziness and the hustle and bustle of the kitchen.”

Like a true millennial she eschews the idea of a favorite cookbook and prefers social media to inspire her personal cooking. “I use Pinterest,” she says. “I look on Instagram and watch videos. Then I’ll tweak ideas how I like them.”

When she finishes her culinary degree, Gabrielle, wants to work full time at The Cleveland Clinic. Long term she’d like to lead the Culinary Medicine Program and/or become an executive chef. “I want to make a difference in people’s lives through food. Whether it be demonstrating knife skills and cooking skills for an elderly couple wanting to live longer, or teaching quick, easy, healthful meals for a mom developing cooking memories in her children’s lives,” she says, “food is the driving force in my life.”

The LDEI Cleveland Chapter $2,000 scholarship is used to assist and promote women in the professions of food, wine and hospitality. “The award is based on academic accomplishments, career goals, culinary experience, professional and personal references, and financial need,” says Carol Hacker, chair of the Cleveland Chapter’s Scholarship Committee. “Gabrielle is an ideal winner.”


"Lifting Our Spirits" In the Company of Friends


Zoom gathering on March 26 brings ‘cheers!’ and good cheer

By Elaine T. Cicora; Screenshot courtesy of Beth Davis-Noragon

Nine smiling faces, cocktails firmly in hand, beamed into homes across Northeast Ohio last Thursday at 6:30 p.m., as Cleveland chapter president Beth Davis-Noragon hosted our first virtual happy hour. (One additional member joined us by phone, for a total of 10 intrepid Dames in attendance.)

We “Zoom”-ed in from such Ohio locales as Seville and Canton to the south, Geneva to the east, and Rocky River to the west, all brought together by a chance for some (virtual) face-to-face time, an opportunity to share some mutual support, and – just maybe – an excuse for some communal happy-hour sipping.

During our 45-minute “gathering,” the conversational gambits ranged from the light hearted (“What are you drinking?” answered by a show of libations that included Negronis, espresso martinis, perfect Manhattans, and M Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir, among others), to the serious (“How’s your work situation?” with answers that ranged from furloughs and slow-downs to “no effects yet”).

Other timely topics included the vagaries of InstaCart (expect a wait), proper washing techniques for leafy greens (a little soap is okay), and “takeout: yay or nay?” (mostly “yays”).

No, we definitely did not solve many of the myriad challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. But at least for a while we had this: We were in the company of friends.

Please join us for Virtual Happy Hour #2 at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, on Zoom; look for a LDEI-Cleveland email with sign-in information.



Current and Prospective Members Mix and Mingle at Der Braumeister

By Beth Schriebman-Gehring and Paris Wolfe

LDEI Cleveland Members and Guests at Der Braumeister

On the last Monday in January, the Cleveland Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International welcomed six guests/prospective members to its monthly meeting. All are experienced professionals in the restaurant and hospitality industries, and were invited to submit membership applications by February 1.

During the meeting at Der Braumeister all members and guests introduced themselves and shared their reasons for current or future membership. Consistent themes included a desire for comradery, networking, and education as well as a desire to support other women in the industry and to support the scholarships and grants program.

As part of new business President Beth Davis-Noragan reported that Dame Paris Wolfe, freelance writer, will serve as chair of the Communications Committee.

Then the socializing began over a German-influenced buffet provided by Dame Jenn Wirtz, third-generation owner of this almost 40-year-old establishment.

Der Braumeister’s menu is inspired by Bavarian and European favorites. The buffet table started with charcuterie plates studded with grapes, cheese, speck and plenty of gherkins. The buffet was balanced with two types of cucumber salad; German lox with cucumber, dill, lemon on pumpernickel; sauerkraut balls and potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream.

While dinner was delightful, dessert stole the show. The sour cherry strudel was flaky and buttery with just the right amount of filling and the most decadent mini cream puffs – made by Jenn’s mom – were topped with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache. Rumor has it some Dames had more than one! #ldeigratitude

Learn more about membership in LDEI.