About us


We are dedicated to providing a forum for Bay Area food professionals and enthusiasts to come together for networking, learning, idea-sharing, and connecting.

The SFPFS wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of our Board, event organizers, sponsors, and inspiring cohort of members. These people organize and attend events that build connections and offer professional growth.

Members get invites to year-round events at a special member rate, access to our email notices and Facebook group, an online membership directory, and the ability to join an inspiring community of food professionals..

Learn More about Becoming a Member →

 Our History

The SFPFS was formed in 1978 in the back room of the local Williams-Sonoma store. Among its founding members were the accomplished Clark Wolf, John Philip Carroll, Marion Cunningham and Carlo Middione. Within just five years, membership had increased to 265, substantiating the Bay Area’s lively community of curious food professionals and eaters.


Our Board



Bruce Paton


Bruce has been working in Bay Area kitchens for over 30 as Executive Chef. After leading a series of beer and food pairings at Barclay's Restaurant and Pub, he earned the name “The Beer Chef” and became widely recognized as an expert, writing for publications on the national stage. Bruce was awarded the Antonin Carême Medal in 2002 for his contributions to education and the culinary arts. He currently works as a consultant.

Rita Held

President Elect

Rita’s education background in nutrition led her to a career in the test kitchens of Del Monte Foods for over ten years. She then became a culinary consultant, developing recipes for food companies, leading television cooking demos, and creating recipes for national magazines. Currently, Rita co-blogs with SFPFS member, Rosemary Mark, at Get Cooking Simply.

Jolee Hoyt


Jolee worked in television production management for almost three decades. She was involved in the production of many cooking shows with nationally acclaimed chefs, including Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, Joanne Weir, and more. After leaving television, she attended Tante Marie's Cooking School and became a private chef and caterer.  Jolee is also a certified master taster for Chefs Best.

Kirin Basra


Kirin has worked with consumer packaged goods companies and entrepreneurs in multiple food categories -- fermented foods, non-dairy alternatives, frozen entrees, and retorted meals. She is currently a Senior Scientist at Premier Nutrition, where she develops nutritious, high-protein products for the “Active Nutrition” category. Outside of work, she focuses on addressing nutrition education and accessibility to affordable food.

Stephanie Lucas

Events Co-Chair

Stephanie has been an entrepreneur in the food industry since the 1980s when she was co-owner of the Massachusetts-based company, Appetizers…Etc. Opportunities in finance lured her away from the culinary world, but her love of food drew her back, first as a culinary instructor, then as a personal chef, and finally as a teacher and caterer with Board member, Barb.

Barb Shenson

Events Co-Chair

Barb began her career in food as an instructor and cooking school manager for HomeChef. She then worked in the kitchen appliance industry and developed recipes for cookbook authors. In 2010, Barb wrote and published her cookbook, You’re On Your Own. After being involved in sales for specialty food products, Barb returned to the kitchen to teach and cater with Board member, Stephanie.

Lesley Sykes

Communications & Web

Lesley’s family roots in fresh produce led her to degrees in nutrition and sustainable agriculture and a career focus in business development for fresh produce growers and distributors. She currently runs a fresh produce importing business with her father. Prior to this, Lesley was at Emeryville-based SCS Global Services, partnering with international growers to provide visibility to their sustainability programs.

Carolyn Tillie

Communications & Web Co-Chair

Carolyn is a freelance writer, exhibiting artist and curator. She has written for a number of wine industry magazines, the Napa Register, and Metalsmith magazine. In 2017 she published her first book: Oysters, A Global History. Carolyn’s gastronomically-inspired jewelry has been sold in galleries all over the world and she is now curating food-themed art exhibits to accompany the release of her second book, A Feast for the Eyes – Food Art from Apple to Zucchini.


Peter Hertzmann

Membership chair

Peter is a culinary historian with an emphasis on technology and policy. He has studied and cooked Chinese, Japanese, and French cuisines for decades and has staged numerous times—principally in France and Switzerland, but also in Canada, the U.S., and most recently Scotland. Peter has led both recreational- and professional-level classes and presentations around the world, and has published numerous papers on esoteric, food-related subjects. He has written three books, and is likely the only member of the SFPFS with two different CIA’s on his resume.