Passion for celebration.

Every single event we create is an expression of the love we have for our work. From intimate gatherings to epic galas, we strive to craft the most outstanding cuisine and the most elegant, high-end presentations in the Washington DC area. Our remarkable 85-year history as a leading DC catering company motivates us to continuously invent truly unforgettable experiences.

A community connection

Farm-to-table cuisine and sustainable, green practices not only create a better dining experience—they create a better company. In that spirit, Ridgewells Catering proudly gives back to non-profit organizations to support a variety of health, education, women’s and children’s issues.

 
 
 

Our Team

The Ridgewells team is ready to transform your next event idea into reality. Read on and learn a little about what we do.

Susan Lacz

CEO/President

SUSAN LACZ

CEO / President

“I’ve always loved a good party,” says Susan, who has been with the Ridgewells team since 1986. Her love of entertaining was inspired by her Polish grandmother—her babcia—who often entertained large groups of guests for parties at her New Jersey farmhouse. Susan purchased Ridgewells in 1997 with her business partners and has been instrumental in the continuous growth, expansion and maintenance of the company’s corporate, social and major events portfolio. She is involved on a number of boards to include the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Junior Achievement, Marymount University and Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School. Susan was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Greater Washington Award and was named one of Washington Business Journal Power 100 in 2014.  Ridgewells has received numerous industry awards, locally and nationally under her leadership to include Bethesda Magazine’s Best Caterer, Special Events Magazine, Spotlight Awards and the International Special Events Society Esprit Award for Best Event with a Legacy.
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Kevin Dewey

Chief Financial Officer

KEVIN DEWEY

Chief Financial Officer

A certified public accountant, Kevin offers vast financial experience across a wide array of businesses in both the private and public sector. With broad experience in all aspects of accounting and financial management—and an expertise in budgeting, forecasting, cash flow management and financial statement reporting—Kevin has worked with Ridgewells to see the big picture and achieve bigger and better results. Still, he counts his biggest work accomplishment as also his most recent, having helped Ridgewells navigate the hardships of COVID-19. Before joining Ridgewells in 2009, Kevin spent 26 years working for major corporations such as Unisys, Lockheed Martin and United Rentals. From optimizing profit margins to forecasting the unseen to reducing overall costs, he helps the team maximize profitability and growth. An area local, Kevin grew up in Silver Spring and graduated from James Madison University. He is an avid sports fan, particularly for the Washington Capitals. 

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Megan Zebrak

Chief Operations Officer

mzebrak@ridgewells.com

MEGAN ZEBRAK

Director of Major Events

A New England native from Barrington, Rhode Island, Megan is a graduate of Ithaca College in New York and has been working in the Major Events division at Ridgewells for more than a decade. She leads a highly specialized team to produce some of the company's largest and most prolific major sporting events that travel across the nation, such as the U.S. Men's, Women's, and Senior Open Golf Championships for the USGA. Over the course of just a handful of days for each event, Megan and her team serve tens of thousands of guests and VIP clients, the culmination of an intensive year-long planning process for each event.

Tackling challenges and overcoming obstacles have always been something Megan excels at. "The summer after I graduated college, I rode my bicycle across the country to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. We started in New Haven, Connecticut, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco nine weeks later. It was one of the best summers I've ever had!" When she's not juggling a heavy workload, Megan and her husband are raising two spunky and adventurous daughters in Northern Virginia.    
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Kashif Browne

Executive Chef

KASHIF BROWNE

Executive Chef

Formerly Ridgewells’ executive sous chef for six years, Chef Kashif Browne took a two-year respite to accept a role as sous chef at the White House. Now, as executive chef, Kashif returns to Ridgewells with a fresh culinary vision.

“We are so excited to have Chef Browne back with Ridgewells,” says Ridgewells CEO Susan Lacz. “Kashif has an authentic and creative point of view that stems from a wealth of unique experiences. His dishes and flavor profiles are thoughtful and vibrant, and his experience in catering, with Ridgewells in particular, makes him the perfect chef to lead our culinary program,” she adds.

Kashif is a graduate of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Washington, and has cooked in some of the most respected restaurants and kitchens in New York and Las Vegas and across the country, including the James Beard House.

Which chefs inspire him? “My greatest food influence is Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He is quite the innovator, which often shows in his fusion of Asian and traditional French flavors. I was fortunate enough to work at one of his top New York restaurants, Mercer Kitchen, where my skills, and love for Asian flavors, further developed,” Kashif says.

Kashif was born in Guyana, where he spent his adolescence playing cricket and other sports, and cooking alongside his mother in the kitchen. It was there he developed a love of humble ingredients and bold flavors at an early age, and he carries those memories as inspiration for his culinary philosophy today.

He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have two sons. In his spare time, he enjoys playing pool, table tennis, and, of course, cooking.

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Raul Burgos

Raul Burgos

Chief Development Officer

RAUL BURGOS

Chief Operations Officer

Raul’s past positions include regional vice president for the Marriott Corporation and general/executive senior vice president of Europe’s Eurest Corporation, which generates over $300 million in sales and produces over 160,000 meals a day. In the United States, Raul was a key player in the development of the Flying Food Group, which enjoyed a sales jump from $25 million to $145 million within only five years.

In addition to holding several seats on food and beverage boards, Raul facilitates Total Quality Management (TQM) seminars. He is a black belt in Six Sigma, a data-driven approach that improves business capabilities.

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Henry Hirsch

Director of Special Projects

HENRY HIRSCH

Director of Special Projects

Henry Hirsch knows his way around the event and culinary industry. Before Ridgewells, he worked as executive sous chef at Occasions Caterers, executive chef at Susan Gage Caterers, and product manager for CaterXpert, a catering management software company.

A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, he has also worked as a line cook at Le Cirque under Chef Daniel Boulud, and at Mondrian under Chef Tom Colicchio. In the 1990s, he—along with his wife—owned and operated The Chef’s Table restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

For Henry, hospitality is at the cornerstone of the catering business. “I try every day to be sure that the big and little things we do as a company support the mission of assuring that hosts and guests have the best events possible. If guests are having fun, I’m having fun,” Henry says.

As a native Washingtonian, Henry enjoys personal connections all over the city, some of which date back to his grandfather’s businesses in the service industry. A passionate foodie, he loves to seek out unique farms, fresh markets, and out-of-the-way restaurant gems. But, he says, “my spiritual center is the water—spending time on the Chesapeake Bay or at a Delmarva beach is heaven for me.”

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Christina Berberian-Olarte

Executive Pastry Chef

CHRISTINA BERBERIAN-OLARTE

Executive Pastry Chef

Born and raised locally in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Christina is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She joined Ridgewells' pastry program in 2016, and has been an integral part of Ridgewells' pastry program during her six-year tenure - she was promoted to Executive Pastry Chef in January of 2022. She and her team have crafted some of our most delicious and creative desserts and pastries ever, and Christina has been a steadfast leader in the bakery. She is a regular attendee of L'ecole Valrhona in Brooklyn, NY, and prides herself on teaching others her craft.

Christina loves to travel, and always makes sure to check out local bakeries and pastry shops wherever she goes to see what's trending. She also loves photography, she's an avid movie buff, and is known throughout Ridgewells for her love of bunnies - she herself being a fur mom to an adorable rabbit. One of her favorite work accomplishments? "I once made a birthday cake for former Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez. It was a very exciting and proud moment for me."    
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Mavis Prah

Controller

mprah@ridgewells.com

MAVIS PRAH

Controller

If ever you have a question about Ridgewells, ask Mavis! She's been with the company for over 20 years and is a key leader in our accounting and financial department. Born in Accra, Ghana, she's been living in the DMV since just five years old - and thus knows all the best local spots for a great meal.

When she's not helping to lead the charge in Accounting, Mavis is busy raising three children in Northern Virginia. "I'm helping to make sure my children are growing up to be good global citizens. They're very active with volunteering and traveling to understand what's going on around the world, and I stay energized by supporting them." If she does get a spare moment, she also loves to sew and has a passion for interior design.    
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Cheryl Hudson

General Manager

chudson@ridgewells.com

Sharon Peterson

Director of Payroll

speterson@ridgewells.com

SHARON PETERSON

Director of Payroll

For nearly 10 years, the highly organized Certified Payroll Professional, Sharon Peterson, has been keeping our ducks in a row in the Ridgewells Payroll department. Born in Silver Spring, Maryland, Sharon tells us her superpower is organizing and packing, and if you need someone who is just exceptionally good at excel spreadsheets, she's your gal! With so many moving parts from the various divisions and sub-companies under the Ridgewells umbrella, not to mention the handful of weeks each year she packs up her entire operation to work onsite at the U.S. Open Golf Championship events, her organization skills have been a most valuable asset for nearly a decade.

Outside of work, Sharon spends time with her family, never misses a hockey game, and has a love for decorating her front yard with homemade painted signs around the holidays - a treat for her neighborhood that the kids from all around come to see.    
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Claudia Castro

Director of Human Resources

ccastro@ridgewells.com

Maggie Mayhew

Senior Event Designer

mmayhew@ridgewells.com

MAGGIE MAYHEW

Senior Event Designer

Maggie has been putting her love for the creative process and tackling new challenges to work for Ridgewells for over 10 years. She's produced some of the company's most prolific events of the last decade, placing a strong emphasis on custom-tailored menus and seamless event logistics for top clients that include Kaiser Permanente, George Washington University, and Williams and Connolly. Maggie's work also extends to private clientele throughout the Capital region, where she's well-known for her ability to transform venues and create amazing guest experiences. Some of her favorite memories include a wild South African and Moroccan 70th birthday party for a worldly jetsetter, and an Eastern Shore inspired "Crab Cakes Your Way" action station to wow a client for a posh picnic. A veteran of the hospitality industry and never one to miss the fine details, Maggie worked for a boutique Baltimore hotel prior to joining Ridgewells, where she helped open two restaurants.
Maggie was born and raised in the D.C. Metro area, and is a graduate of Towson University. She loves spending time at the beach with her two young children, Luke and new baby Olivia, and traveling to destinations near and far.
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Mary Margaret Hart

Senior Event Designer

mhart@ridgewells.com

MARY MARGARET HART

Senior Event Designer

Creative to the core—that’s Mary Margaret. With a dynamic background that includes a childhood of working in professional theater and an adult career at a North Carolina children’s museum, Mary Margaret’s love of entertaining started early. “I LOVE dinner parties,” she says. "I enjoy hosting parties and gatherings at home for friends and loved ones."

A self-proclaimed food lover from Ormond Beach, Florida, Mary Margaret is also part of a supper club that tries D.C.'s newest restaurants once a month. Her best meal memory, however, goes to a Sushi restaurant in San Francisco while on a trip with her younger sister. "We sat at the sushi counter for omakase and had no control over what the chef brought us. Every bite was better than the last. If I leaned anything from that experience, it's to let the chef do their thing! That experience also kicked off an annual tradition for my sister and me, and we now take a trip and try something new every year."

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Kim Hanson

Senior Event Producer

khanson@ridgewells.com

KIM HANSON

Event Designer

A passionate cook, farmers’ market shopper and food photographer, Kim loves the creativity of coming up with innovative menus for her clients. Formerly a chemist for the U.S. Navy, Kim began her event production career working for Hanson Productions, LLC, a major-event planning company in the DC area. Kim is an avid runner and is always looking for the next exercise fad. She loves interesting food combinations, which is why Ridgewells’ grapefruit cupcakes are one of her go-to breakfast treats.

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Molly Russ

Senior Event Designer

mruss@ridgewells.com

MOLLY RUSS

Senior Event Designer

Now with Ridgewells for several years, Molly started as an event designer right out of college. Some of her top clients have included Georgetown University, Akridge, Westat, and Miriam’s Kitchen. Creating out-of-this-world events is something she truly looks forward to. “I love seeing an event through from beginning to end. This job is so rewarding when, after months of preparation, everything runs smoothly and the client is super-happy. I also love being able to do events in buildings I grew up going to as a kid,” says the Montgomery County native. In her spare time, Molly loves to cook. "I love trying new recipes and using different ingredients that are not typically found in my pantry. Half Baked Harvest is my favorite cookbook, especially during the holidays."
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Claire Hutner

Event Designer

chutner@ridgewells.com

CLAIRE HUTNER

Event Designer

A lover of the outdoors - hiking, camping, and just being outside in general - Claire Hutner joined Ridgewells in 2019 as an Event Producer and worked her way up to become an Event Designer. She credits her mentors at Ridgewells for helping to drive her passion for catering and hospitality, and will never forget her first solo event when she was promoted. "Just being onsite and seeing all of that hard work come to fruition, seeing my client happy and knowing I helped to nurture that relationship... it was such a fun and gratifying experience." Claire has a keen eye for design and logistics, and having spent her early years in the company learning the ropes of catering from some of our top people, she has impeccable intuition when it comes to building the perfect menu.

Claire is a graduate of Syracuse University, and calls Auburn, Massachusetts her hometown.    
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Mackenzie Grey

Event Designer

mcarroll@ridgewells.com

MACKENZIE GREY

Event Designer

Mackenzie called Randolph, New Jersey her hometown, and is a graduate of Marymount University's Fashion Merchandising program. She joined Ridgewells in the Summer of 2021, but has been a fan ever since we catered her wedding - a meal she says will go down as one of her all-time favorites. "We had an intimate seated dinner (catered by Ridgewells, of course!), and it was so magical to look around and see our closest family and friends lit by flickering candlelight, all talking, drinking, and enjoying a meal together. We spent a lot of time thinking about it in the lead up to the big day, and it's a very special memory for us."

Family plays a crucial role in keeping Mackenzie energized outside of work, and she's also an avid reader - she will make it through 65-70 books in a year!    
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Stefanie Lowery

Event Designer

slowery@ridgewells.com

STEFANIE LOWERY

Event Designer

A creative woman with many talents, Stefanie is from Clinton, Maryland and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. She joined Ridgewells in 2021, and she's putting her love for events and hospitality - and her knack for remaining calm under pressure - to good use as she helps to plan some of the Capital region's most memorable parties. When she's not busy planning events or keeping up with her two boys, 11 and 5 years old, she's singing backup in a local band called 16th & T! "We're all working families, so we don't get to perform as often as we'd all like, but when we do, I absolutely love it!" She says.

Stefanie is continuously inspired by strong, successful women - and names icons such as Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, and Issa Rae as women she often looks to for inspiration. She's a foodie and loves any meal she doesn't have to cook for herself, and proudly names Ridgewells' ribs as the best she's ever had.    
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Anthony Paolino

Event Producer

apaolino@ridgewells.com

ANTHONY PAOLINO

Event Producer

Anthony joined Ridgewells in July of 2021 as an Event Producer. Originally from Bayonne, New Jersey, he's a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, and has a strong talent for event design and logistics - combined with a fearless attitude that he injects into every project. "A friend of mine once said that you have to just start before you feel ready or comfortable," Anthony says. "You'll only feel ready once you've had experience doing the thing that you're afraid of." Sage advice we wholeheartedly agree with!

A dog lover who always makes sure he's home in time to give his pup Zoey a full body massage before bed, Anthony's fondest memory of a meal took place in Paris, where he spent one perfect evening dining on a roasted rabbit in the Marais arrondissement. "It was by far the best thing I've ever tasted, and will always be a very special memory for me."

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Elizabeth Sheahan

Event Producer

esheahan@ridgewells.com

ELIZABETH SHEAHAN

Event Producer

Local gal Elizabeth was born and raised in Rockville, MD, and attended Mount Saint Mary's University. Prior to joining Ridgewells in 2019. she had already worked in the hospitality industry for three years, working in country clubs and at a large local event rentals company.

Elizabeth is a new mom, and spends her days off hitting the beach whenever she can with her daughter Lucy and her husband. She's a compulsive party host, and loves to celebrate any and every occasion under the sun. Her favorite event so far: a gorgeous seaside wedding at Maryland's lovely Whitehall.    
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Gabbi Kandero

Event Producer

gkandero@ridgewells.com

GABBI KANDERO

Event Producer

A local gal born and raised in Rockville, Maryland, Gabbi graduated from Towson University. Prior to joining Ridgewells in 2019, she was a high school math teacher working abroad in Bangkok, Thailand. Speaking about the experience, she says, "I decided to travel abroad after college, and fell in love with Thailand. I was able to immerse myself in the culture, language, and of course - the food. It was the most fun and challenging experience of my life."

Gabbi has a passion for food, hospitality, and events, which has served her well behind the scenes of some very memorable events from the past few years. To keep track of all her accomplishments, Gabbi journals every night and writes three sentences about her day and her accomplishments. "I love to look back on where I was a year ago, and be reminded of how much has changed."    
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Mary Kerns

Event Designer

mkerns@ridgewells.com

MARY KERNS

Event Producer

Mary is a local gal from Frederick, Maryland, and she studied Integrated Marketing and Communications at Hood College. She joined Ridgewells in 2019, and works as an Event Producer, helping her team execute stunning weddings, corporate events, and at-home parties of all sizes - although she loves the challenge and detailed logistics of the large events. She's a strong believer in a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and can often be found outside of work exercising, eating healthy, or simply taking time for herself to reset and recharge.

When asked about the best advice she's ever been given? "My mom always reminded me to take the high road (even when it's difficult), because there is less traffic there."    
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Billie Jo Backert

General Manager, Purple Tie by Ridgewells

bbackert@ridgewells.com

BILLIE JO BACKERT

General Manager of Purple Tie by Ridgewells

Billie Jo has been with Ridgewells at our staffing company, Purple Tie, for more than five years. She's played an instrumental role in helping to grow the staffing area of our business, and can often be found onsite at large events coordinating sometimes hundreds of staff to help our Event teams execute a flawless party.

From Garden City, New York, she's a graduate of the George Washington University, and spends her free time embracing the live music scene in D.C., hiking, and hosting parties. Never one to miss out on the phenomenal local dining scene, she credits a meal at RJ Cooper's Rogue 24 as the meal responsible for cementing her love for hospitality and service. "It was a 24-course tasting menu, and everything was so incredibly inventive. The staff and service were impeccable, and you could tell everyone who worked there was proud of what they had accomplished with each meal. It really changed how I saw food."

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Carrie Coffee

Client Success Manager, Major Events

ccoffee@ridgewells.com

CARRIE COFFEE

Client Success Manager, Major Events

Born in Dallas, Texas and a graduate of the Hospitality Management program at the University of South Carolina, Carrie has spent the last four years at Ridgewells working in our contract accounts and Major Events. Carrie has a vivacious passion for art, travel, reading, and food - along with what she calls "an encyclopedic knowledge of true crime." When asked for this bio what her superpower is, she responds "I can recite the lyrics to every Turnpike Troubadours song." With her outgoing and fun personality, Carrie has made herself a valuable addition to our Major Events team, and credits her success to a willingness to work hard and climb the ladder. "I started my career in hospitality in 2016 with no prior experience, and have worked my way up to be where I am today."

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Kaylee Toth

Client Success Producer

Major Events

ktoth@ridgewells.com

KAYLEE TOTH

Client Success Producer, Major Events

Kaylee recently celebrated her 1-year Anniversary with Ridgewells, having joined us in 2021 as our new Client Success Producer in our Major Events division. Born locally in Ellicott City, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, having majored in Hearing and Speech Sciences. Now, she helps to manage our client accounts in Major Events, including for large golf and sporting events that take place across the U.S.

Kaylee starts every morning with a workout to jump start her day on a positive note, and is never one to pass on a good thing when she sees it. "My dad taught me to take every opportunity as it comes to you, even if it wasn't what you were looking for in that moment."    
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Awards & Recognition

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Most Creative Solution” for “A Celebration of Historic Treasures” event

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Best Event Under 50K” for “Capital Campout” event

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Best Cuisine” for “A Slam Dunk” event

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Best Event with a Legacy” for annual ESPRIT Awards

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Nominated “Best Cuisine” for “Feeding Foodies” event

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Best Event Design” for “A Millennium Celebration New Year’s Eve at the Beach”

Miriam’s Kitchen

Awarded “Bowl of Compassion” for Ridgewells’ philanthropic work for the DC community

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Best Cuisine” for “4 Squared: Revisiting the Classics” event

National Kidney Foundation, National Capital Area, Inc.

Awarded “Volunteer Service Award” for Ridgewells’ charitable contributions

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Nominated “Best Cuisine” for “Jersey Fare on the Boardwalk” event

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Best Cuisine” for the “Tastefully Retro” event

Event Solutions Magazine – Spotlight Awards

Awarded “Caterer of the Year” for the annual Spotlight Awards

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Nominated “Most Creative Solution” for the National Elite Alpaca Auction

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded annual “Best Tote Cuisine”

International Special Events Society (ISES)

Awarded “Best Cuisine” for the “Fall Business Classic” event

Creating delicious,
unbelievable experiences.
That’s what we do.

– Susan Lacz, CEO

Join the Team

If you have a passion for catering and events, you could be just the right person to join our team. Explore our available opportunities.

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