Royal Oak's first Panera Bread coming to Woodward Corners – Detroit Free Press
Royal Oak’s first Panera Bread coming to Woodward Corners – Detroit Free Press
Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about Facebook Email Royal Oak’s first Panera Bread coming to Woodward Corners New places to get coffee, dessert and dinner are opening across southeast Oakland County Post to Facebook Royal Oak’s first Panera Bread coming to Woodward Corners New places to get coffee, dessert and dinner are opening across southeast Oakland County Check out this story on Freep.com: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/oakland/2019/04/02/restaurants-shops-bakeries-oakland-panera/3283797002/ Cancel Send A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. Posted! A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Join the Conversation To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs Comments This conversation is moderated according to USA TODAY’s community rules . Please read the rules before joining the discussion. Royal Oak’s first Panera Bread coming to Woodward Corners Rene Wisely, Free Press special writer Published 6:00 a.m. ET April 2, 2019 | Updated 8:14 a.m. ET April 2, 2019 CLOSE Coffeehouses, bakeries and restaurants top the list of new places open or coming soon to southeast Oakland County. Wochit, Sally Snell/DFP CONNECT COMMENT EMAIL MORE A coffeehouse with a massive indoor playground in downtown Royal Oak, a new Panera Bread on Woodward Avenue and a dessert shop in Ferndale that sells a 16-layer cake are some of the new businesses open or coming soon to southeast Oakland County. Royal Oak Panera Bread will close its downtown Birmingham bakery-cafe to open its first Royal Oak location at the much-anticipated Woodward Corners by Beaumont at 30955 Woodward Ave. “The parking in Royal Oak will be better for our guests and our employees,” said Birmingham Panera manager Yolonda Armstead. “Our area director has been looking at this for a while and decided not to renew the Birmingham lease.”
Panera Bread will close its downtown Birmingham location and open a new store in Royal Oak, at the Woodward Corners by Beaumont development at 13 Mile and Woodward. (Photo: Getty Images) Zoning laws prohibit the new 5,300-square-foot quick-service café from including a drive-thru, said Panera corporate spokeswoman Sara Gottman. It will offer delivery. Panera Bread will join Wahlburgers , Grabbagreen , Brown Iron Brewhouse and New Order Coffee as another food tenant at the 117,000-square-foot, $32.8 million development at Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile, the former Northwood Shopping Center. The development also includes a small-format Meijer, a 5-story hotel, Beaumont Urgent Care Center and AKT fitness studio . Many of the businesses, including Panera, are scheduled to open this summer. A two-story, 6,000-square-foot family-friendly coffeehouse is on its way to downtown Royal Oak. Proving Grounds Coffee is expected to open its second location in June at 417 S. Washington Ave. in the former home of Gayle’s Chocolates, a community staple for nearly 35 years. The independent coffee shop, with its original location a stone’s throw from General Motor’s Proving Grounds in Milford, roasts its own beans in-house.
James Courtney (left) and Daman Auvenshine (right) in front of the former Gayle’s Chocolates Space, where they have signed a lease to open a second location of Proving Grounds Coffee in Downtown Royal Oak. (Photo: Royal Oak DDA) In Royal Oak, the 3,500-square-foot upper level will include a 1,900-square-foot play area complete with a two-story jungle-themed playscape, rentable private party and conference rooms, and more secluded work spaces for customers, said Daman Auvenshine, who owns Proving Grounds with James Courtney. The 2,400-square-foot downstairs will boast a soft seating area with a stage for live entertainment, a window to view the roasting room, and places to sit and work, Auvenshine said. The space is triple the size of the original Milford location , which offers pastries from sources like Crust in Fenton and ice cream from Browndog Creamery in Farmington. Auvenshine expects Proving Grounds to make some of its own pastries and ice cream, eventually, in Royal Oak. Royal Oak-based cancer support clubhouse Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit is merging with The Lake House of Saint Clair Shores. The eight-year-old Lake House will continue its full slate of cancer support, education and wellness under the Gilda’s Club name, becoming Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit, Lake House location. Programming will continue, with its current staff, at the Saint Clair Shores location on Pare Street with no disruption, according to a Gilda’s Club statement.
Gilda’s Club logo (Photo: Gilda’s Club) “The true beneficiaries of this merger are those we serve — our members. We are thrilled to broaden our reach and impact,” said Laura Varon Brown, Executive Director & CEO of Gilda’s Club. “Everything under our roof, whether that be in Royal Oak, Farmington Hills, Dearborn and now in Saint Clair Shores, is free of any costs to families facing cancer.” Chain restaurant Bar Louie is open at 510 S. Main St., the former Blackfin Ameripub spot. Craft cocktails, local beer, flatbreads, sandwiches and “chef-inspired” grub are on tap. What won’t be there? “You’ll never have to endure annoying blinking, vibrating pagers, snooty waiters, or ultra-hip menus,” its corporate website said. Birmingham After three months of renovations, Salvatore Scallopini in downtown Birmingham unveiled its first-ever bar, an à la carte menu with healthier options, including roasted squash and Sicilian broccoli, and a modern dining room. “We concentrated on making it current with the times,” said Kara Bongiovanni, whose family founded the restaurant more than 30 years ago.
Salvatore Scallopini in downtown Birmingham has reopened after three months of renovation (Photo: Joe Bongiovanni) While the bar only seats six people, guests eagerly fill the stools, Bongiovanni said. She’s looking forward to re-opening the outdoor patio when warm weather returns as well. One thing that won’t change is the pan of lasagna made on Sundays. “We serve it until the last piece is gone,” she said. While four Salvatore Scallopini restaurants exist across metro Detroit, the Birmingham mainstay is the only family-owned one, she said. “This is recent, about three months ago, when employees bought the last of other locations,” Bongiovanni said. “Our menu is different than the others and we’re working on a different website.” At one point, Salvatore Scallopini had 13 franchise locations, she said. The original Sal’s is at 505 N. Woodward Ave. Love & Buttercream , at 746 E. Maple Rd., had two locations, including its original in Royal Oak, until July 2018. While the bakery was profitable, owner Brooke Wilson Vitale said, it was stressful for her work team to run between locations, so she closed the Royal Oak location. “The shop in Birmingham, which we opened about two years ago, is six times the square footage of the Royal Oak location,” she said.
Love & Buttercream Bakehouse closed its Royal Oak location to focus its efforts on its larger Birmingham location, which in addition to baked goods, has room for classes. (Photo: Tracey Date) The extra space allowed her to expand her business, creating an upstairs classroom for baking classes and an event space with an active kitchen to host parties and meetings. She also added online sales. “We love Royal Oak and we’re nine to 11 minutes up the road now, a trip we took often,” she said. “Our guests have been loyal.” Petite Cabane , a children’s clothing store with a European flair first mentioned here , opened at 205 E. Maple Rd., in the former Barbara Boz Boutique, which relocated across the street. Willow and Fernn Boutique , a lifestyle shop with fashions, home décor, jewelry and a bath salt bar written about here , is hosting shoppers at 528 N. Old Woodward Ave. Its grand opening and ribbon cutting is April 11. Berkley Ullman’s Health & Beauty , at 2816 Coolidge Hwy., hopes to be the antidote to today’s “rush” culture, adding a little “hush” in her wellness store, said co-owner Uli Laczkovich.
Ullman’s Health & Beauty opened on Coolidge in Berkley. The wellness shop offers skin treatments, fragrances, candles, soaps and more. (Photo: Roman Laczkovich) The former pharmacist stocks her emporium — a place where she “helps people feel good” — with skin care treatments, fragrances, supplements, candles and soaps, all high-quality products from around the globe, including Michigan. A third of the 1,900-square-foot shop is devoted to teas. She created a sniff bar for patrons to smell the different brews as well as the equipment to make a single mug to enjoy while relaxing on the store’s couch. “I’ll be listening to what customers want there, whether it’s exotic teas, herbal teas or there might be a demand for fruit teas,” said Laczkovich who owns the store with husband, Roman. Ullman’s is in the site previously occupied by Tootie and Tallulah’s, which moved up the road to 12 Mile, just west of Coolidge. Grill and Curry , at 3354 Twelve Mile Rd., has opened a 52-seat restaurant specializing in flavors rooted in north India, said owner Eftikhar Ahmed. Chicken tikka masala served with rice is his most popular dish, along with anything with curry in it.
Grill and Curry is a new Indian restaurant open in downtown Berkley. (Photo: Eftikhar Ahmed) Ahmed got the idea for opening an Indian restaurant after helping in the kitchen at the private The Village Club in Bloomfield Hills . He hosted an Indian food night and the members praised his native cuisine, he said. He also worked for a couple of years at Touch of India restaurant in Birmingham. “We’ve kept this place very comfortable and casual,” he said. Grill and Curry is housed in the former Mazza Indian Cuisine location. Toadvine Books , a new and used bookshop named after a character in Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian,’ has had a soft opening at 2783 Coolidge Hwy., the former Universal Electric Motors Service site.
Toadvine, a 1,500-square-foot shop, housed in the former Universal Electric Motors Service site at 2783 Coolidge Highway, will sell new and used books that owner Luke Janes procured through the years. (Photo: Emily Friedman) “The official grand opening/ribbon cutting is still a few weeks away while I finish a few minor construction details, fill the shelves and wait on signage installation,” said owner Luke Janes. Guests may enjoy the 1,500-square-foot shop as he finishes up the final details, he said. Read more about Janes’ background in past coverage . Ferndale Drifter Coffee is opening its first brick-and-mortar store at 770 Woodward Heights, in the Iron Ridge District in April, said Brooke Gieber, spokesperson for Iron Ridge Holdings LLC.
Drifter Coffee is opening its first storefront in Ferndale. (Photo: Delainie Wheeler) Owner Alleah Webb launched Drifter in 2015 as a mobile “coffee caboose,” housed in a vintage 1971 trailer known for popping up in farmer’s markets, weddings and other events in Detroit. She’s planted roots in a two-story building that is a coffee shop, a café serving locally-sourced food, a community hub and greenhouse all in one, according to its website. Webb is sharing some of the building with Gooseneck Coffee Co ., an artisan micro roaster founded in Plymouth. It will act as Drifter’s in-house roaster, using beans sourced through Women Coffee Producers, a nationwide collective that focuses on women-run farms. Because Drifter is housed in a building zoned manufacturing, Webb needs to produce a certain amount of goods sold onsite, which is why she welcomed the roasting company, according to Gooseneck’s website. Drifter’s signature house coffee is called Divine Goddess Blend. The medium-roast java has notes of chocolate, graham cracker and caramel. It’s a rotating roast, so the beans will come from different countries depending on the time of year, the website said. The shop prides itself as all-inclusive, with a gender-neutral bathroom, handicap seating at the café bar and a kids area with toys and activities. The coffee caboose will continue to pop up around metro Detroit. Treat Dreams Dessert Emporium , a collaboration of Ferndale mainstays Treat Dreams, an ice cream shop known for exotic flavors like chocolate covered potato chip ice cream, and D’Vine Cookies, opened in mid-March at 22965 Woodward Ave. after a two-month renovation.
The Kookie Monster Dream Cake is one of the over-the-top desserts being offered at Treat Dreams Dessert Emporium in Ferndale. (Photo: Howie Blitstein) It serves over-the-top sweets, including a 5-pound Dreamwich, an ice cream sandwich made with two 9-inch chocolate chip cookies, previously mentioned in Susan Selasky’s Free Press story . Can’t choose just one? Try the dessert version of a beverage flight to sample several small bites, perhaps tiramisu, bread pudding or edible cookie dough, said supervisor Howie Blitstein. “We have a 16-layer cake that has mousse and cookie dough and it’s called the Kookie Monster Dream Cake,” Blitstein said. It also has a gift shop area to pick up Michigan-made treats like toffee, nuts and hand-crafted candy. Following a special diet? Keto, gluten free and vegan cookies round out the menu, Blitstein said. >> Do you know of a place opening or closing? Tell us about it on our Woodward 248 Facebook Group page !
Battle Road Hastings, UK Indian Wedding by Amazing Day Studio
Battle Road Hastings, UK Indian Wedding by Amazing Day Studio April 3, Comments Good Morning Maharanis! Today we cross the pond with a beautiful invitation on hand from Turmeric Ink for Rutchi and Shil and their lavish Indian wedding at the picturesque British countryside. Amazing Day Studio made sure that the precious day remains unforgettable capturing every emotion and provided us with the most extraordinary images that will surely leave you inspired! As a point of departure, our lovely Maharani Rutchi was the first to be caught by the camera crew once she was ready and set to go for her ceremony thanks to the magic touch of Gini Bhogal . The top beauty expert decked our bride to be with a stunning makeup look to complete her gorgeous attire while Red Dot made her shine with an astonishing Kundan jewelry set, and Kiran Sahib was the artist responsible for her lovely mehndi design. The Raja of her dreams, Shil donned a floral design on his white sherwani suit and together with his soon to be wife, posed for a heartwarming photo shoot and participated in the first blessings rites just before taking the plunge! Scroll down for our favorite fist moments and peruse our full gallery for more inspiring snaps! How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was “the one”? This may sound cliché, but our story was one of fate. I was born and brought up in England but found myself moving to Perth, Western Australia in search of new experiences, and it was here that Shil and I met for the first time; but, it was actually on a trip back home to England, visiting family and friends, that I first heard of Shil. Shil happened to be in England at the same time visiting his sister, and it turned out his brother-in-law was our mutual common ground – you know, through friends of friends, the usual 1 degree of separation between Indians! It was through this connection one night that one of my best friends, Meenakshi, met Shil and their conversation naturally led to Perth, and me living there. My friend (the romantic matchmaker) then hounded Shil with my details, contact number and demanded he contact me. I later caught up with my friend and she tried to do the same to me – talking to me about this guy she met from Perth but that she had already taken the liberty of giving him my number anyway! Back in Perth, a month or so later, I heard from Shil, and after much deliberation, we eventually met – it was a friendly encounter but non-eventful! We, however, stayed in touch, became friends and I guess naturally started spending more time together. I believe the moment I realized he was “the one” was when my brother came to visit me and, although Shil and I were just friends at the time, he took a real interest in meeting my brother and spending time with him. That’s when it really clicked for us and we officially started ‘dating’! Share the scoop on your Proposal Story! Not only were Shil and I living in one of the most isolated cities in the world, but our families were also spread across the globe. My family was in England and Shil’s parents in Mombasa, Kenya. It was getting to Christmas time and both our families wanted to spend time with us, but not only that, mine wanted to meet Shil and his wanted to meet me. Shil already had plans to head to Kenya and invited me along, but my family also wanted to see me and meet Shil, and so we decided to squeeze in a trip to both! We headed to England first where, unknown to me at the time, Shil confronted my Dad to ask for my hand in marriage! With his mind made up of proposing to me, he had the plans set and ready for once we got to Kenya. Having arrived in Mombasa, and met with his family, we then had one night booked at this beautiful resort, which I didn’t think much of at the time. Here we set sail on their famous ‘dhow’ ride for an evening on the river – eating and dancing the night away; after we headed to the in-house casino where I became engrossed in playing roulette and didn’t want to leave – Shil however complained of stomach pains and feeling sick so we decided to head back to our room. It was all still very unbeknown to me that something was going on as we walked back and into our room… firstly I spotted a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers sitting on the coffee table and then noticed some candles flickering on the balcony; as I stepped out, there was a trail of rose petals leading up to a daybed, which was also covered in rose petals, and perched next to it was an ice bucket holding my favorite bottle of champagne! You would think that the picture was now perfectly painted, and it was obvious what was coming next, but no, not to me – I just sat down on the daybed and expressed how romantic it all was! It was then, at that moment, when Shil got down on his knee, presented me with a ring and, well the rest gets a bit blurry, but after some tears and realizing this is actually happening, I obviously said “yes!” Tell us how you went about planning your wedding, and your overall experience with the Venues, Hair & Makeup, Outfits, Decor Theme, and all of the other important details. Venue: I simply wanted something outside of the hustle and bustle of London; a quaint countryside venue, but this proved to be quite difficult at the start. It needed to be somewhere that could cater for not just Indian food, but also the usual Indian wedding guest numbers (and although we wanted to keep it small and intimate, we still had 250 guests!), plus it needed to be close to Kent, my family home. After many unsuccessful phone calls, viewings by my parents and far too much ‘googling,’ I finally came across the Bannatyne Spa Hotel in Hastings, East Sussex (on the border of Kent) – it was perfectly nestled away from the main roads and surrounded by some beautiful gardens; on calling them up with our requirements, and as soon as they said they could meet our arrangements, I was on the phone pronto to my parents back in England for them to get a viewing asap! Despite not having hosted an Indian wedding at their venue before, the team was amazing to work with and they assisted to our every need. What worked well was that we had the whole hotel exclusively booked out for our family and friends for the entire wedding weekend, and considering there were many guests traveling from across the UK and abroad, it made the entire experience entertaining and truly complete. Décor Theme: I wanted a regal, traditional, rustic and antique theme; the colors of choice were navy, antique gold, magnolia and deep purple/red hues which contrasted well together; I wanted simple yet classy, with the sense of old India, and the team at Dream Occasions turned my thoughts and imagination into reality. I met with them only twice before the big day – once at the venue and then at their studios, and prior to that it was a couple of Facetime sessions from Australia; however, in what I thought would not be enough time, it was plenty for them to work their magic! Catering: We chose Madhu’s as we had a great experience with them for my sister’s wedding and you’re guaranteed that Madhu’s will deliver with mouth-watering, exceptional cuisine . I feel that having good, high-quality food for your guests is a key part of not just your wedding day, but any celebration! Hair and Make-up: Again, from my sister’s experience, I decided to work with Gini Bhogal, and it was a real pleasure. I am not a make-up person at all, but Gini was so calm and composed when I went to visit her for my trial, she put me at ease and I knew I could trust her on the day. How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind? The outfits were probably the most distressing part of the whole process. Being in Perth there are very limited Indian stores, let alone haute couture Indian bridal boutiques! I did come across some old Auntyji-style Punjabi suits though… I knew I wanted a Lengha and traditional bridal red/shades of red for the Hindu ceremony. That was all I knew – now all I needed to do was to find it; people say that you’ll know it when you see it, and that’s what happened to me. I had no luck online, but that was my only choice being in Perth; however, as luck would have it, I was back in England for our engagement party and managed to squeeze in some essential wedding shopping in London – that’s when I spotted ‘The Outfit.’ It was distinct; it was different; it had the most beautiful embroidery – unlike anything I had seen anywhere else, and I had seen plenty by this point! The choli was of a deep-red colored fabric, which was so delicately and intricately decorated with pearls and beads on the neckline, the back, and the sleeves, and the Lengha contrasted magnificently with its golden-embroidered flowers on a blood-red soft cotton fabric. My reception outfit was a whole other story. It was a nightmare to sort out and deal with the retailer – I had a look, an image, pictures of designs and styles for an evening cocktail gown, but liaising with the ‘team’ was an ordeal, especially as I was living in Perth, the retailer was in London and the designer in India! In the end I didn’t quite get what I wanted, but with only a week or so to go before the big day, and with a million and one other things to do, I just had to go with it; luckily, as my fabulous hair and make-up stylist said, all I need is big hair, perfect make-up and a piece of statement jewelry – and she was right! What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why? The food tasting! I am a complete food fanatic and tasting the exquisite dishes prepared by the marvelous Madhu’s team was not just delectable, but a real treat as I had always wanted to experience the life of a food critic – even if it was just for a day! Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind? I’m a bit of an old soul and I love live music, especially jazz, blues, and soul genres, so hiring a saxophonist was truly special. We picked two great tracks and the saxophonist coordinated with them well. Our grand entrance brought an exhilarating and exciting start to the night – everyone was on their feet dancing, clapping, cheering as my husband and I danced our way in – it was a remarkable moment! Then there was our first dance. There were no particular or practiced dance moves, but it felt smooth and sophisticated as we were both just so in the moment, and then Shil embarrasses me with a looong kiss… that led to more cheers, but also some awkward comments… (so embarrassing)! It’s amazing what the power of music can do to the atmosphere and the ambiance – making those moments so memorable. Throughout the day there were a number of negotiations going on between the ladies and the groomsmen, but they weren’t giving anything away and Shil was being completely stubborn. It all, however, came to a head at the Vidai when we were stopped in our tracks as my ladies banded together, marched in front of our car and prevented us from leaving if the groomsmen didn’t hand over some cash – eventually, and luckily, they did cough up and the whole ordeal was extremely entertaining to watch! Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be? “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” Anything else you want to tell us? We’d love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.) My make-up and hairstylist, Gini Bhogal, was an absolute legend – I had no jewelry whatsoever for my reception outfit, and not liking the outfit itself didn’t help either. Luckily however Gini, on the morning of the wedding day (!), saved the night by sourcing some stunning jewelry for me to wear from the beautiful ‘Mara and Elle’ collection. The ensemble worked wonders and I am so grateful that it all came together in the end. A big thank you to all those who kept me sane and supported us – you know who you are! And a special mention to our families for their assistance in making it all happen, and to my friend Diana – she was my late-night ‘distress’ helpline and ran around performing last-minute errands for me across Australia to England, thank you! Find out more of this British-Indian wedding in our following feature! STYLE
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Let’s Talk About Salt | Chow | Bend | The Source Weekly – Bend, Oregon
By Lisa Sipe @lisamariesipe
N o kitchen is complete without salt. It’s a basic human taste, used in every cuisine. Salt enhances the flavor of food and brings it to life. At most restaurants in the U.S., when we ask for salt, we get table salt—stocked in most homes, along with possibly Himalayan pink salt. But take a look at Japan, where people use 4,000 different types of salt. Lisa Sipe Guessing and rating the salt was entertaining and sweet when served with a palate-cleansing margarita.
Plenty of salt varieties are available stateside, too. In Oregon, there’s Netarts Bay hand-harvested pure flake sea salt from the Jacobsen Salt Co .—sold by itself, or with a host of infusions.
But do we really know that much about the mineral we eat every day, in almost every meal?
Like parties hosted around wine, cheese and spirits, there are parties centered around salt. I thought of this idea when a friend gifted me a tiny set of salts from Japan. I couldn’t read any of the labels, but she translated each one and made a legend. The vials seemed so precious. Every time I thought about using them, I felt like I might waste one if I used it in the wrong dish, or worse, if the salt got lost in a dish. They sat on my shelf until I decided to share them with others.
Choose salts wisely
The Japanese set of salts included flavored salts (rice, bamboo, meat, three spice, wasabi, matcha and tempura) and regional salts (Peru Inca, Himalayan and Andes). Many of the salts were very similar, so comparing them at a tasting would be challenging. Unless you know people with extremely well-developed salt palates, I recommend choosing a selection of salts that have different characteristics. The Japanese matcha and wasabi salts had very distinguishable flavors, so for my blind tasting I included them, along with truffle salt, alder wood smoked salt and Himalayan black salt.
Do a little homework
Before a tasting party, spend a little time online or at the library so you have some background on each salt. Learn where it’s from, how it was harvested (rock or sea) and what cuisine it’s typically used in. Inevitably someone is going to ask questions, so prepare beforehand or you or your guests will be Googling at the table.
Salt will enhance anything you put it on, so think basic when choosing what to serve it with. I chose a baguette with unsalted butter, making it easy for everyone to pick up the nuances of each salt. Most of the guests found the garlic and onion notes in the wasabi salt, and practically everyone guessed the truffle salt on aroma alone. The salt we discussed the most was the Himalayan black salt, an Indian volcanic rock salt also known as kala namak. It smelled like sulfur and tasted a bit like hard-boiled egg yolk. We all agreed it must be a staple in vegan cooking because it could fool the nose into thinking it was about to eat egg.
Talking about how each salt could be used was my favorite part of the tasting—and this is also where I missed the mark. I wish I would have prepared more food to try with the salt, making the tasting also serve as a dinner party. Next time I’ll serve beef, chicken, roasted green beans or broccoli, along with macaroni and cheese. A friend thought the alder wood smoked salt would be perfect on a steak, mimicking being prepared over a wood fire.
Because a salt tasting is a newer concept, I couldn’t find a blind tasting score card online. I designed one myself so tasters could record the flavor and aroma they picked up on each salt, rank the saltiness, give the salt an overall score and guess or record the actual type of salt.
Santa Barbara’s First-Ever Vegan Chef Challenge – The Santa Barbara Independent
Food Taylor Salmons Tue, Apr 02, 2019 Add to Favorites Santa Barbara’s First-Ever Vegan Chef Challenge Month-Long Competition Aims to Enhance Meat-Free Menus Photo: Paul Wellman Vegan Chef Challenge organizer Beth Wettstein enlisted 18 restaurants in Santa Barbara’s first Vegan Chef Challenge.
Beth Wettstein, a devout vegan of nine years, is unsatisfied by the monotony of salads and veggie burgers that seem to be the only plant-based menu items at most Santa Barbara restaurants. “Compared to cities like Los Angeles, there’s just not too many options,” explains Wettstein, who usually opts to alter non-vegan plates by substituting fruits and vegetables for animal products.
Now Wettstein is asking restaurants to create their own veggie alternatives as part of Santa Barbara’s first-ever Vegan Chef Challenge. With the goal of inspiring a new crop of flavorful vegan dishes, the month-long competition requires participating restaurants to introduce at least three new plant-based creations to their menus.
“There’s going to be more than just entrées,” said Wettstein, excited by the variety. “There will be some unique appetizers and desserts as well. Started this past Monday on April 1, both the event’s team of organizers and the general public will have a chance to taste the plates and vote for winners in categories such as Chef of the Year, Best Vegan Pizza, Best Menu, and so on. “ There’s a lot of concern about global warming and taking care of the planet, and I’m just trying to do my part. ”
By involving the community, Wettstein hopes to cement Santa Barbara’s “already growing” place in the vegan dining world as well as unite vegans and non-vegans through healthy and delicious food. As a former resident of Sacramento, where the challenge was founded, she has seen firsthand the effect that the event can have not only in driving revenue for competing restaurants but also in inciting a positive community attitude toward sustainable eating.
While the challenge is backed by Vegan Outreach, a nonprofit fighting against animal violence, Wettstein is just as mindful of the environmental impact of veganism. “There’s a lot of concern about global warming and taking care of the planet, and I’m just trying to do my part,” she said.
Here are just a few of the vegan selections to look forward to this month. (Items may change.)
Chase Bar & Grill’s Chase Stuffed Bell Pepper: Topped with rich vegan tomato sauce, this pepper’s stuffing consists of rice, vegetables, and spices and is plated with a helping of roasted garlic mashed potatoes. “I told my chef this was my favorite dish growing up and asked if he could do it vegan,” said owner Jackie Mathis. “So here we are.”
Opal Restaurant & Bar’s Vegan Napoleon: Colorful layers of grilled pesto tofu, wild mushroom, grilled red pepper polenta, grilled eggplant, portobello mushroom, and spinach are coated in roasted tomato sauce with a garnish of wild mushroom and roasted red pepper.
Mizza’s Chickpea Rollatini and Veggies: This gluten-free, high-protein chickpea pasta is full of flavor and richly textured. “The fresh flavors of roasted baby carrots, broccolini, and high-quality extra-virgin olive oil make this dish so satisfying,” explained Mizza co-owner Kourtney Searls. The dish’s finishing touch is a hint of garlic.
Uncorked Wine Tasting and Kitchen’s BBQ Pumpkin Ribs: Red Kuri squash, also known as Hokkaido pumpkin, is cured with a mixture of spices, smoked and roasted, and finally coated in a carrot-juice-based barbecue sauce containing smoked guajillo peppers. Owner Michael Amador expressed, “I wanted to offer something that non-vegans would be equally attracted to as much as they might be to a meat-based dish.”
Satellite’s Bistro Bento: This French-bistro-inspired meal, served in a traditional Thai Tiffin Enamelware Bento Box, offers three sweet and savory courses made entirely from locally sourced ingredients. The dish is a collaboration from Satellite’s entire vegan kitchen team and “demands attention from all the senses,” according to Chef Emma West.
Bella Vista at The Biltmore’s Spiced Jackfruit Taco: Sweet jackfruit is braised in a mixture of onion, garlic, avocado oil, and coconut oil and sprinkled with coconut sugar, paprika, and cumin. Sweet potatoes, pineapple salsa, marinated avocado, and shredded cabbage enhance the already decadent jackfruit and are served on a homemade tortilla. “I always love to cook with jackfruit,” Chef Marco Fossati gushed. “The cumin and paprika add a lot of flavor, and a drink in hand is a nice addition!”
Sama Sama’s Butternut Squash Dumplings: Roasted mushrooms provide a meat alternative while Sichuan Chili Oil, Chinkiang Vinegar, ground peanuts, and cilantro are “a flavor punch for your taste buds,” as Sama Sama cofounder Ryan Simorangkir put it. However, spice levels can be toned down upon request.
Bibi ji’s Fennel-Beet Salad: Locally sourced organic beets, fennel, pistachio, and vegan raita put a vegan twist on an Indian classic. “Raita is a staple to Indian cuisine but is traditionally made with yogurt,” manager Alejandro Medina explained. Here the ingredient consists of cashew yogurt and local cucumber. Medina’s team is passionate about working with farmers in the area “to source delicious produce with bright colors.”
The Vegan Chef Challenge will also feature delectable vegan creations by Black Sheep Restaurant, Khao Kaeng by Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, The Lark, Les Marchands, Mesa Verde, Mosto Crudo, Padaro Beach Grill, Pico at the Los Alamos General Store, Sea Ranger Seafood Station, and Tyger Tyger.
Sindhi food: A vibrant cuisine hidden from the public
Despite the rich and accessible flavours, it has not found its way to Pakistani or Indian mainstream cuisine.
How do you tell the story of a cuisine that lives and breathes in two countries and refuses to identify itself with either?
I spent the last few weeks speaking to Sindhis in Pakistan, India and overseas about the history of their families and their food. Sindhi cuisine, which features a range of complex flavours through simple, seasonal ingredients, defies simple categorisations.
It is informed by the subcontinent’s rich migrant history, yet firmly rooted in its geography while tying thousands of diaspora Sindhis to a land they might never have visited.
“When my grandparents migrated to Pune from Sukkur, they wanted to make the area’s customs their own. They were Hindus, of course, but our customs weren’t very Hindu. They were closer to Muslims,” Ankiet Gulabani tells me. He runs the popular Mumbai-based food blog, Belly Over Mind , that covers a range of modern and traditional recipes (You can also find on the blog the recipes for the dishes in the photos below).
Pooja Makhijani, a writer based in New Jersey whose grandparents migrated from Karachi and Hyderabad, also found that the food Sindhis grow up eating — bone marrow, liver, kidney — are unfamiliar to many other Hindu north Indians.
While Ankiet’s family was initially conscious about the distinctiveness of their cuisine in Maharashtra, like other Sindhi families who migrated during Partition, they did not give up their Sindh culinary traditions. In fact, Sindhis both in India and overseas predominantly cook Sindhi food at home.
“People who are displaced, in whatever way, cling to their customs, language and traditions. (Hindu) Sindhis have not changed. They have exactly the same food habits regardless of where they are,” Pooja tells me.
Sindhi khatti daal.—Belly Over Mind
While Sindhi food, influenced by Central Asian culinary traditions, certainly has strains of Mughal cuisine, it is distinctive enough that even in Pakistan, Sindhis find that the food they have at home is not necessarily what their friends eat.
Speaking to an old college friend, Shahwar, who grew up in Karachi but whose family is from Larkana, she said she did not realise that her friends did not necessarily grow up eating bhindi aloo with roti or bori kutti for breakfast or busri , which is a sweet roti .
Despite the rich and accessible flavours of Sindhi food, it has not found its way to Pakistani or Indian mainstream cuisine. While you can find Sindhi food in smaller highway restaurants in the province in Pakistan, it is difficult to find dedicated Sindhi restaurants that serve the full range of Sindhi classics in major cities.
Sumayya Usmani, Glasgow-based food writer and author of Under the Tamarind Tree , finds that the enjoyment of Sindhi food has remained regional. She hypothesises it could be because Sindhi food is less meat heavy and spice laden, or that Sindhi recipe sharing is mostly within families. To this point, Ankiet laughs that Sindhis like their home-cooked food so much that they likely will not seek out Sindhi food at restaurants.
Sindhi carrot bhaji.—Belly Over Mind
We may be turning a corner. There is a promising trend of new restaurants dedicated to Sindhi food — such as Café Sindh in Karachi or Sindhful in Mumbai — and of young Sindhis excited to share traditional recipes with the broader public.
Sapna Ajwani, a London-based chef, quit her job in banking four years ago to start a supper club focused on Sindhi food. Sapna’s family are Amil Hindus originally from Hyderabad, Pakistan. She learned to prepare Sindhi food by watching her mother, aunts and grandmothers cook at home.
Sapna’s supper clubs feature a range of Sindhi dishes that are rooted in her family’s Rajput history: bhee chaat , which is steamed lotus stem in chutney or kairkumatsangri , desert beans and berries cooked in mustard oil.
She would often serve Sindhi food to her friends who encouraged her to start a Sindh-focused supper club since the flavours were so distinct from the Indian and Pakistani food they normally found at restaurants.
Kutti.—Belly Over Mind
Sindhi cuisine draws upon a stunning variety of greens in their food. The Sindhi staple, sai bhaji , for instance, is a mix of lentils and at least three types of greens: palak , methi , dill and sometimes khata palak .
Along with the use of greens, it has a push-pull of texture and flavour, Pooja and Ankiet explain. There is tartness through spices such as amchur , dried pomegranate seeds and tamarind; and frequent coupling of sweet and savoury. Daal pakwan , for instance, by itself is bitter and creamy but it is served with sweet lolas that are thick flatbreads doused in syrup.
While some Sindhi dishes remain unknown to the public, others have become quite popular. Kausar Ahmed, culinary instructor and author of the cookbook The Karachi Kitchen , grew up eating Sindhi biryani and palla (hilsa) every Friday.
She would make weekly trips to the fish market with her mother to get palla machi , which is a popular Sindhi delicacy cooked in numerous ways. One method, according to Kausar, is to marinate the fish in a dry spice rub and fresh ginger and garlic and pan fry it till the skin is crispy. The other is to prepare it in a flavourful gravy and serve it alongside cumin rice, green chutney and kachumber salad.
Palla.—Belly Over Mind
Ankiet tells me that palla carries great significance for Sindhis, as Jhulelal, who in Sindhi Hinduism is regarded as the incarnation of the Hindu diety Varuna, is frequently depicted as riding the fish.
According to Sindhi folklore, Jhulelal controls the currents of the Indus and when palla swims against the current upstream to reach the Jhulelal/Zinda Pir shrine in Sukkur, it is rewarded with its distinct taste.
In a description of Jhulelal and his relationship to the Indus and palla , Parineeta Dandekar of the South Asian Network of Dams describes the fish as the unofficial regional dish of Sindh. It is the delicacy of honour in most Sindhi festivals and given to relatives visiting from cities.
Ankiet’s grandmother frequently speaks of the hilsa she had in Pakistan. While they live in Mumbai, that is a port city, he said that his grandmother finds that the hilsa she has here is never as good as the one they had in Pakistan.
I hope that Ankiet will one day try palla machi in Pakistan and that it lives up to his grandmother’s memories.
Maryam Jillani is a Washington, DC-based aid worker and food writer. She is founder of the award-winning blog Pakistan Eats and was TASTE magazine’s first Cook in Residence. You can follow her on Twitter @pakistaneats
by Cameron Davies Who are able to resist the aroma of pure ghee put over piping hot grain and dal having a sprinkling of powdered organic sugar? Now, research backed scientific proclamations are directing individuals to the diet in our grandmothers with no guilt. Breaking myths and misconceptions of healthy and unhealthy food habits, the ‘satvik’ diet of ancient India gets a thumb up!! Regarded as ‘fatty foods’ earlier, today, grain, ghee and organic sugar have shown to give to us a power boost they assist in controlling metabolic process, slowing lower aging and therefore are now essential-have inside your daily diet. For more information on cooking with ghee , visit our website today! Grain, Oryza Sativa is really a types of grass, supplying several essential minerals, Vitamin B Complex, sodium, zinc etc. Filled with fiber, this gluten-free cereal is an origin of vital essential fatty acids. Brown grain is more potent in nutrients as just the outer layers or shell is taken away this can help to maintain a sound body weight. Grain is filled with phenolics that are filled with effective antioxidants released during digestion. A cup full of grain each day has lots of dietary and health advantages. A couple of seem to be the following: · Lowers cholesterol Balances action of calcium to manage tone of muscle · Lowers metabolic syndrome · Lowers frequency of asthmatic attacks · Reduces chance of Type II Diabetes This cereal crop is part of several cultural cuisines and it is a simple food around the globe. Ghee or ‘gow gritha’ in Sanskrit, meaning ghee from cow’s milk ought to be incorporated inside a person’s meals. Pure cow ghee should preferably be put over grain, dals and rotis to supply you their full nutrients. Ghee produced from the milk of cows which feast upon organically produced grass and vegetables is easily the most advantageous. Fats provide instant energy towards the body and therefore are required for a well-balanced diet. 1 gm of fat supplies almost 9 calories, nearly double from the energy provided by carbohydrates or proteins. Thus, a couple of tps of ghee each day provides you with all of the dietary advantages of this question food. Probably the most misinterpreted fat, ghee is really a soothing unguent which not just provides a glow towards the skin but has a number of other benefits, most of which are highlighted below: · It facilitates absorption of essential vitamins · Helps form spongy tissue which cushions our joints · Dissolves wastes of body tissues and carries away toxins · Includes a healing impact on the nutritional tract · Mitigates peptic ulcers or gastritis · Contains linoleic acidity which fights fats · Increases memory 1 teaspoon ghee combined with warm water, taken at bed time is the greatest known purgative. As ghee gains recognition in the western world, we Indians should still consume this essential food as part of our daily diet. Organic sugar is unrefined sugar produced from raw sugarcane and it has more nutrients because it is less processed. Filled with antioxidants, proteins, several vitamins and minerals, organic sugar or raw sugar ought to be incorporated in a person’s diet in moderate amounts. Much better than refined white-colored sugar, small quantities of organic sugar inside your diet provides you with a power spike. Want to know more about benefits of ghee ? Visit our website for more information. Getting grain, ghee and moderate levels of sugar as part of your diet will keep yourself healthy, the mind alert and all sorts of your organs working continuously. These food types prevent dementia & Alzheimer and safeguard you against toxin damage. Besides satisfying our hunger cravings, these traditional foods provide our physiques with a number of health advantages and for that reason, ought to be incorporated within our daily diet. Advertisements
Planning the Perfect Trip to India in 2019
Planning the Perfect Trip to India in 2019 April 3, 2019 By itravelnet.com
A country of symbolic colours, mesmerising diversity, ancient cities and old age mystery. Time seems to stop in awe as if watching the scenes of the silent 1913 Raja Harishchandra film . The quintessential lands of Maharaj, mysteries of the Maghal empire, magical allure of the Taj Mahal, the world famous Golden Triangle and last but not least, step in the boots of Indiana Jones and lose yourself in the narrow streets of Kathmandu. Truly quintessential India, surely worth a big tick on your bucket list.
This vast glorious country, blessed with diverse culture and idyllic beautiful landscapes, cannot be covered in a single trip, so what follows is a list of my favourite sights that this grand country has to offer so you can plan your perfect trip to India . Rajasthan
Land of the Kings, home to the valiant Rajputs, Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital, is the gateway to India’s most celebrated state. This area is littered with opulent castles and forts most of which are now exclusive hotels, restaurants and impressive museums, these include Jaisalmer Outpost, Amber Palace and Jodhpur’s majestic Mehrangarh to name just a few.
A kaleidoscope of colour lights up Rajastan, from the bright intensity of the hues of the turbans and saris worn in Jaipur, the ever bright Rajasthan festivals , decorated camels in Pushkar, brightly painted elephants in Jaipur, to the rainbow spectrum the of Diwali and Holi, celebrated across the state in October and March respectively. Jaipur will truly light up your soul. Agra & the Taj Mahal
The centre of India’s great Mughal empire, and its legacy lives on in beautiful artwork, mouth-watering cuisine and magnificent architecture. But Agra is more than a one-sight town. The remnants of the Mughal empire include; the magnificent fort and an array of fascinating tombs and mausoleums.
Deemed a love poem composed of stone, The Taj Mahal is breath taking with its arched entryway, it certainly leaves you breathless with awe and deserves to be hailed as one of the most beautiful buildings on the planet. Alongside the enchanting Agra Fort and the rolling palace complex of Fatehpur Sikri, the trio are a must-do during your trip to India .
Immense yourself in Mughlai cuisine, whose origins can be traced back to Medieval India and the Mughal Empire. The food is spicy and has a very unique aroma and taste. Foodies will happily lose themselves in a bowl of biryani, pulao and kofta. Delhi
Dubbed Eight cities in one, transcending the corridors of history, Delhi has it all, a century-old Muslim settlement to the leafy, British-built districts of New Delhi, planned in the 20th century. Packed with historical treasures and architectural marvels to the new age city, crowded, with chaotic streets filled with rickshaw drivers, sacred cows and aromatic street side food stalls. Goa
Goa’s golden, tropical beaches and Portuguese culture makes it a unique and beautiful travel destination. Every beach community is unique and there is accommodation to cater for all from backpackers to luxury five-star resorts.
India’s smallest state, Goa stands out from other Indian destinations for it’s Portuguese roots. Explore Portuguese colonial architecture, wander through rice paddies or relax on one of the many stunning beaches.
Many travellers are drawn to Goa for spiritual exploration. Enjoy a sunrise yoga session, or reiki healing course and truly relax on your trip to India.
Enchanting, intriguing, and therapeutic are some of the few words l can use to describe this expansive piece of earthly beauty but no words can define the adventure of travelling to India.
As Romain Rolland, the French scholar said “If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.” Filed Under: Travel Blog Tagged With: india itravelnet.com – Travel Directory and Blog Travel blog: Travel articles and press releases from travel writers and news outlets. Travel Directory: The best travel sites sorted into relevant categories. Travel Guide: An index of travel guides for every country in the world. Planning to visit Norway? Firebird Tours is known for high quality private & small group award-winning Norway tour vacation packages . Featured Travel Sites
Women of IdentityMind
Select Page Subscribe to our blog Get ahead with our award-winning insights on the latest developments in the fraud and compliance landscape. Enter your email below to receive our blog posts directly to your inbox. Women of IdentityMind by Janie Diaz | Mar 29, 2019 | blog | 0 comments
This March, we celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day . During this month, on the IdentityMind Blog, we will feature profiles of the women who help make IdentityMind hum. We think these stories will inspire, and give you a glimpse into some of what women can achieve in the tech field.
-Garrett Gafke, Chairman and CEO, IdentityMind Janie Diaz | SEO and Social Media Manager
Janie is the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media manager for IdentityMind. Within the marketing department, Janie works to hone and publicize the IdentityMind brand and message. To enhance our marketing efforts, Janie also contributes to content creation and PPC ad copy in English and Spanish.
Born in Winston-Salem, NC, Janie’s father is a Cuban political refugee and her mother is a North Carolina native. Janie’s family left the US when she was four, beginning their life abroad in Dubai. After three years in the UAE, the family moved to Antwerp before relocating once again to Mexico City, where they remained for three years until their move to Detroit. Discussing her reintroduction to American life, Janie says, “It was hard coming back to US culture. Other kids didn’t approve of my wardrobe choices and I was made fun of for taking notes in Spanish and for being a tomboy.” Things were not made much easier by her family’s move to Phoenix, but after completing high school in three years, Janie found college a much more welcoming environment. It was here that she co-founded a small, local magazine, which focused on publishing poetry, political articles, and short stories. Janie’s love of words landed her an opportunity as one of the SEO industry’s first-ever full-time content writers, a position she took in Los Angeles just before meeting her husband, Jose, with whom she now has two daughters, Hyzea and Zorayah.
After leaving her first SEO position in 2006, Janie began freelancing as a writer and SEO professional with a focus on reputation management and digital marketing for a host of clients, including small- to medium-sized startups and other businesses, as well as celebrities and athletes. But, after years as a contractor and consultant, she was looking for a career position — she wanted to do something that mattered. At IdentityMind, Janie says she feels fulfilled, knowing that what she does helps to stop financial crime and the crimes bad actors are no longer able to accomplish as a result of what the IdentityMind team does. “As women in technology, it’s critical that we make our voices part of the conversation,” Janie says, adding, “In something like RegTech, it literally saves lives, making it easily the most important thing I’ve been a part of in my career.”
Janie brings a unique perspective to the marketing department, including her focus on the importance of Spanish-language content for our Latin America marketing campaigns and an evergreen approach to social media campaigns, which she’s working to advance right now. “Janie is our SEO guru and a wizard of words. She is kind, funny, and fiery,” says Cristal Gonzalez , our Product Marketing Manager, adding, “She brings amazing talent and energy that can only be described as a natural gift. IdentityMind is blessed and thrilled to have her!”
When she’s not at IdentityMind, Janie can be found hanging out with her girls, playing with her dogs, and writing poetry in Tulare, CA.
Kelsey Zitterkopf | Controller
As the IdentityMind Controller, Kelsey handles all of the corporate financials, including all of our financial reporting, metrics, quarterly fiscal reports, and our internal and external financial audits. She works within the finance department, which is based in our Spokane office, where she manages our staff accountants alongside Paul McClure, who is the IdentityMind Head of Finance. In addition to her main workload involving audits and reporting, as Controller, Kelsey also manages all of our client payments coming from North America and Europe while she’s in the process of planning and organizing the accounting system currently used to manage accounts receivable for Mexico and Latin America.
As a Spokane native, Kelsey grew up spending her weekends with her family at their cabin on the Little Pend Oreille Lakes, where she enjoyed hiking, boating, and water skiing with her younger brother and sister. With a strong German and Norweigan background on both sides of the family, Kelsey grew up in a household where both parents worked full-time; her father as a public defender for the county who worked primarily with minors in the juvenile court system, and her mother as a medical office manager working for doctors in different health fields.
During high school, Kelsey enjoyed playing basketball and volleyball, and she also ran track. She landed her first job working at Quiznos during high school and continued to work all through college, beginning with a staff accountant position with the Pring Corporation — a commercial property management company in Spokane, where Kelsey handled full-cycle bookkeeping, including accounts payable and receivable and keeping track of company expenses.
Kelsey says she always had an affinity for numbers, and at a young age, when she realized her mathematical inclinations could make it possible for her to understand how a business works from behind the scenes, she knew she wanted to work with numbers professionally and in a business setting. After working at Pring for a couple of years, Kelsey graduated from Eastern Washington University with degrees in both accounting and finance, which led her to a senior audit associate position with BDO, a public accounting firm where she worked for three years helping clients complete audit statements and ensured their financials were correct after earning her license as a certified public accountant (CPA).
Working at BDO helped Kelsey understand the importance of getting to know a company from top to bottom and from the inside out in an effort to paint the most accurate financial picture. Along with her newly acquired CPA license, Kelsey went on to become the controller at International Aerospace Coatings (IAC), an aviation engineering and aircraft painting services company, where she primarily focused on financial analytics, dealt with a complex inventory, and handled the accounting associated with site and inventory managers.
Kelsey has been with IdentityMind for about one year, having started in April of 2018. She says her past experience and being an auditor and public accountant have made her uniquely qualified for the job of controller, which our Head of Finance, Paul McClure agrees with. “Kelsey is a fellow CPA, and I rely on her professional judgment on a daily basis. She is a true ‘RockStar,’ and we are blessed to have her on the team,” Paul says, adding, “She has a great attitude and is always willing to help and manage through the good times and bad.” Kelsey knows how to improve our processes and make things run more efficiently. There are always new financial projects, which Kelsey and Paul brainstorm about after the board has requested changes.
Kelsey is quick to tell you that she has worked with a lot of people talented in the finance field, and her colleagues would agree that she is among the talent they have collaborated with at IdentityMind. She has an innate love of numbers, which makes her incredibly gifted at the work she does every day. When she’s not at IdentityMind, you’ll find Kelsey hanging out with her kids and husband, hiking through her native Washington, and enjoying the outdoors around Spokane.
Pratibha Sharma | QA Engineer
Pratibha is a QA Engineer at IdentityMind, where she works in our eDNA Engineering department.
Pratibha grew up and studied in India. She began her career in software engineering in New Delhi, India, and continued to work in technology after moving to Fremont, California. After her second son was born, Pratibha took time off to take care of her new family, while also transitioning to the East Coast. She currently resides in Virginia with her husband and two children, both boys.
When describing how she came to work for IdentityMind, Pratibha explains, “I have known Cynthia for a very long time, she is a great friend. We have worked together at many different companies. In 2018, I visited California on a family vacation with my boys. I met Cynthia during lunch one day and was telling her that I was planning to go back to work in California and that we were planning to move back there by the end of the year. When we went back to Virginia after the vacation was over, I got a call from Cynthia, saying that IdentityMind was looking for a QA intern, and she asked if I was interested. Ecstatically, I told her, ‘Of course, I am!’ So, here I am, and I am so grateful to Cynthia, Chris, and the rest of the team who gave me this opportunity.”
Pratibha has now been a member of the IdentityMind team for almost six months. She says she enjoys working at IdentityMind with such a talented team — and the feeling is mutual, certainly from our Head of Engineering, Cynthia Tham , who helped bring Pratibha to us. “This is the third company that Pratibha and I have worked at together. She is a dear friend and a teammate I can count on,” says Cynthia, adding, “Pratibha gives it her all in everything she does, and always seeks feedback for professional growth. A month after she started at IdentityMind, she had already been recognized by her peers as a serious high performer. It shows that when you do good work, you can’t help but shine and be noticed.”
As of now, Pratibha is working remotely until the 2019 summer break begins, and has been planning for her move to California over the past few months; the team is eager to welcome her to the West Coast. Pratibha brings more than 12 years of software industry experience from across several diverse fields of networking, storage appliances, automation, and QA with her to IdentityMind. She loves to start new and unknown adventures within tech, where she enjoys diving into each new project she encounters, and always gives her best effort.
One of Pratibha’s favorite quotes is from author Lalah Delia, who said, “She remembered who she was and the game changed!” This perfectly encapsulates Pratibha’s motivation, desires, strength, and the intellectual wherewithal she brings with her to IdentityMind. When she’s not hard at work, you’ll find Pratibha enjoying nature walks and cycling around her neighborhood. She also enjoys birdwatching right in her own backyard, where she frequently sees blue jays, red cardinals, goldfinches, and many others who stop by her birdfeeder.
Rajani Gudi | Tech Lead for Third Parties
Rajani is the Tech Lead for our Third Party Technology Partners, and she works to integrate what they offer with the IdentityMind platform in our engineering department, working closely with other engineers, Cynthia Tham and Jun Liang , as well as our Chief Technology Officer, Kieran Sherlock .
Rajani was born in a small town in Southern India. After she was born, Rajani’s family moved to Mumbai as a result of her father taking a position working with the government in telecommunications. Her father was one of the first to test pagers and landline phones in the country. When asked about what it was like growing up, Rajani remembers being the middle child, which she says helped her learn how to be diplomatic. Growing up as she did and where she did, she says helped make her more capable of managing multiple issues at once. She says she makes an effort not to push her opinion, again stressing that being the “child in the middle” helped to teach her this kind of discipline. Rajani says she learned how to get her way while also ensuring others were happy, too, and this, she says, is compromise — a skill she brings with her to the workplace.
Rajani says where she grew up, it was rare for kids to go to English secondary school as she did, and English is something she considers her first language as a result of her formal education, but she also speaks three other languages, including Kannada, Hindi, and Marathi. Rajani’s mom was a stay-at-home mother, but she influenced Rajani to see the possibilities around her. Rajani knew that she wanted to be, in her own words, a “working woman,” as she knew keeping her mind busy would be the key to her happiness.
Rajani went to Mumbai University and majored in statistics, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and found herself working in market research company where she did Target Rating Point (TRP) analysis for advertisements. She enjoyed this and found it exciting, as it offered her the intellectual stimulation she so clearly thrives on, a trait she brings with her to IdentityMind as well. After her TRP analysis work, she began to write programs in C, her first foray into programming, which she still thoroughly enjoys today.
After graduating in Mumbai, Rajani’s parents helped her find an eligible bachelor, a common practice in her native culture. Rajani was married at the age of 27 in Mumbai. Her husband, Sudhin Deshpande, had decided, as Rajani had, on following the American Dream, so they ventured forward to the US together. Sudhin, who is also an engineer and an entrepreneur, later started his own company in a combination of blockchain and IoT.
Upon arriving in the United States, Rajani had to maintain work once she had her visa, as not working consistently would put her visa status in danger. This meant she was not able to go back to India when her brother got married, or when her mother passed away, and while she won’t bemoan these issues in the slightest, it’s not hard to tell the impact on Rajani was immense. After arriving in the US, sometimes, Rajani and her husband had to accept low-paying jobs without a choice, just to maintain their status, but Rajani says these bumps in the road always lead to a path to success in the end. Her endless optimism is just one of the many things that make her so beloved by her team at IdentityMind.
Rajani felt it was a dream to be in the US, but the visa process was difficult and took almost 10 years to get used to the US, and frequently considered going back to India, but ultimately, they opted to stay, working for various consulting companies. They both obtained their green cards in time, and Rajani then obtained her java certification, which worked well with her analytical style of thinking, especially once she knew she wanted to go into programming. She has always worked in computer science. She says she is still able to make a lot of progress and feels she has achieved a great deal, though she does consider taking breaks for family is important.
Rajani says she believes in teamwork — and she feels it is important that we cater to the needs of the client. She believed in taking a step back and planning things out with plenty of runway ahead of her, which is also a helpful approach with our clients and third-party technology partners over the long haul. The engineering lifestyle, she says, means burning the candle at both ends, and she highly values the fact that she can do her own work in her own time at IdentityMind. “I’m constantly impressed by Rajani’s willingness to come up to the net. She took on the most challenging third-party implementation and works tirelessly to make it as robust as possible,” says Cynthia Tham, head of engineering, adding, “When we were short-staffed in the frontend implementation, she stepped up again to reinvent herself from a backend Java to full stack React developer. Rajani has an incredible work ethic, has a strong sense of ownership to our products, and is a natural mentor. I feel blessed to work with a strong Technical Lead like her.”
She loves working in finance and loves regulation and the programming work that we do as part of Fintech. Importantly, she notes that she feels she is contributing to the world in her engineering role. In a job where she must fulfill the obligations of multiple, different roles, Rajani loves to interact with different people, and she loves learning new things. She says she has gotten into trouble for speaking out in the workplace at previous jobs, but she says she is proud of the women who stand up for themselves, as they understand they will face consequences, but they stand up for what is right, no matter the cost. For this reason, she is known as a proponent and as a voice for what is right in the workplace.
Rajani loves to keep busy with the activities of her children, her daughter, Nidhi, and her son, Neel. She also loves to cook, and she often tries new, exotic Indian cuisine and Indian-Chinese fusion foods. She is a handicrafter, and enjoys making paper flowers and baskets, and she tries to teach these crafts to her children, who also enjoy origami. She’s a strong believer in recycling and taking care of the planet, which is something she’s passing down to her kids. Cristal Gonzalez | Product Marketing Manager
Cristal is the Product Marketing Manager at IdentityMind, where she oversees the company’s marketing campaigns and initiatives in an effort to increase IdentityMind brand knowledge and visibility.
Cristal was born in San Jose de las Matas, a small farming village in the Dominican Republic. She lived in a house situated on a farm, shared with her two older sisters, parents, and other relatives. Wanting a better life for their children, Cristal’s parents left for the US when she was two, leaving Cristal and her sisters in the care of her godparents back on the island. Three years later, her mother returned to take them home — to a studio apartment in the Bronx.
Cristal and her sisters spent several years assimilating into American culture and learning English. In an effort to keep her daughters rooted in all things Dominican, Cristal’s mother sent her back to the island each summer to visit family, immerse her in her native culture, and to work the family’s farmland.
After spending several years in one of the toughest barrios of the Bronx, Cristal’s mother decided to move somewhere safer. At 10, with a newly single mother, Cristal moved to Orrville, Ohio. “It was honestly the first time my sisters and I felt like immigrants,” Cristal says, adding, “We were told we had ‘weird accents,’ we looked and dressed differently — everything we did was ‘weird.’ Being different wasn’t welcomed. Some even called us ‘dirty Dominicans.’” The family moved back to New York, where Cristal began to flourish in the face of adversity. She started high school, becoming captain of her volleyball, softball, and basketball teams, while also helping immigrants learn English. She graduated high school with honors as the salutatorian of her class.
Cristal obtained her B.S. from Fordham University in business administration with secondary concentration in marketing and management, and began her career at the TD Securities KYC department, and was promoted to team lead. After eight years, she left and began working for J.P. Morgan as a KYC associate on the syndicated loan trading floor. As challenging as she found this new role, Cristal wasn’t feeling fulfilled. After just two-and-a-half years, she decided to try something different, accepting a role as a relationship-onboarding associate for KYC reviews with Societi Generale.
Cristal then became engaged to her partner of three years, who had been offered tenure at California State University, Monterey Bay. “This didn’t make me sad, or angry; rather, I took it as an opportunity to change the narrative of my career and life,” Cristal explains, adding, “IdentityMind was looking for someone with extensive KYC experience at the enterprise level to help in marketing. I was offered the job, and I left NYC to start a new life.”
Cristal brings an in-depth perspective of how KYC is conducted at the enterprise level; she has extensive knowledge of the compliance issues banks and financial institutions face. She understands the language of the finance industry and the reasons why many within this sphere maintain siloed structures, much to their own disadvantage. “Cristal is bright, a go-getter, enthusiastic, hard working and the newest member of the Product Marketing team. She is a fantastic team member, and has already played a key role in jumpstarting key product marketing initiatives, including a webinar series and new marketing content for client reach-outs,” says Faisal Nisar, our VP of Product Management. Cristal’s knowledge of IdentityMind’s KYC, AML, sanctions screening, and transaction monitoring solutions allows her to understand what financial entities should be looking for, how to market to them, and how to answer their questions. The expertise in finance and KYC Cristal brings to IdentityMind rounds out the marketing team and offers a whole new perspective into the world of high finance. “I could tell right away that Cristal was going to fit right in with the rest of our team,” says Cristal’s marketing team associate, Janie Diaz, adding, “she comes to us with an incredible understanding of finance — what she’s added to this team is something it would have taken two or three other people to accomplish.”
“The most important thing for me has always been to be true to yourself. Take control of your life, as it’s just as valuable as anyone else’s. Be kind to yourself and to others,” Cristal says, adding, “As women, we’re incredibly strong, but we’re unstoppable when we support each other.” When she’s not advancing our efforts in RegTech, you’ll find Cristal running, dancing, and spending quality time with her family and friends in Los Gatos, California.
Kanoe Knight | Customer Success Manager
Kanoe is an IdentityMind Customer Success Manager in the Spokane office, where she manages accounts once they’re signed and handed over from sales. “Our first priority is to get the client integrated and to production as quickly as possible,” Kanoe says, adding, “We help troubleshoot, and look for any future needs. It’s important to build the relationship with the client and important that they know I am their advocate.”
Kanoe was born in Marysville, which is north of Seattle, WA. Her roots are Native American, Mexican, and Hawaiian, and she’s proud of all her different heritage and cultures. Her entire childhood revolved around horses, and she showed them competitively until she was 19, and to some degree in what Kanoe has dubbed her “second childhood.” She’s also a huge advocate for animals, specifically dogs, and mainly pit bulls and other bully breeds. Regarding pit bulls, Kanoe says, “Yes I have one, I’ve had a couple, and I firmly believe it’s not the breed, it’s the other end of the leash you need to worry about.”
Kanoe has worked mostly retail during her professional life, with Nordstrom being the last company she was with before IdentityMind. She worked mostly as a stylist, which she loved and still does from time to time on the side. She has styled for print and commercial media, as well as some of the movies and television shows that were filmed in and around Washington state.
Armed with a desire to move back to the Spokane area, Kanoe found herself on the hunt for a job in the area. After learning of the position with IdentityMind from a couple of friends whom she had worked with previously, Kanoe began working with IdentityMind in July of 2018. “I was told about the position from a couple of people that I had previously worked with, who also knew I was moving back to Spokane from Seattle and looking. And here I am,” Kanoe explains.
When discussing what she adds to the team, Kanoe is quick to point out that she’s surrounded by people who have “been at this for a while,” noting that what she brings to the table is a fresh set of eyes. Coming from a fresh perspective has allowed Kanoe and others on the team to identify areas in need of improvement and places where new growth is possible. Kanoe is known throughout the company for her bright sense of humor, which keeps the Spokane office on its toes. In the interview for this profile about her, Kanoe noted that one of the things she likes most about working for IdentityMind is getting coworkers to sing boy band songs with her; a comment we know is not lost on her fellow Customer Success Managers.
“Ayn Rand once said, ‘The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me,’ this is my favorite quote,” Kanoe says, “because it’s really only up to me how far I want to go and what I let get in my way.” A self-described open book, Kanoe makes all of us laugh, and shows us what it means to enjoy the work you do each day. When she’s not helping IdentityMind customers succeed, you’ll find her working with rescue animals, relaxing with friends, and hamming it up with her pitty, Evalani, and other pups.
Mirel Aguirre | LATAM Sales Director
Mirel is the Sales Director for Latin America and she works from the IdentityMind office in Mexico City, where she’s know as a force to be reckoned with. When it comes to landing new clients, “She’s a tiger shark,” says Rao Wu, IdentityMind’s Head of Sales, who goes on to say Mirel is incredibly kind to new and existing customers as well as her internal team.
Mirel was born in Mexico City, and she loves it there — she says she cannot imagine being anywhere else. Her family’s history helps make sense of her deep love for the sprawling Latin metropolis: her father’s side of the family has been in the city for three generations. Mirel also lived in France for one year when she was 21 years old, but she’s quick to tell you, she was ready to come back home. Her maternal grandparents are from Spain, except for her maternal grandfather, who is from England, and whose wife is a Mexican native Zapoteca.
Mirel went to school in Mexico City at the Universidad Mexicana for an Administrative Management degree, which landed her work in sales almost right away. Before coming to IdentityMind, Mirel previously worked as a commercial director at EmailAge, where she was in charge of large key accounts for which she ran identity verification. She was also a general manager for Fiolo for four years, where she had a variety of large responsibilities, including managing finance accounts overseas in places like Tel Aviv. Mirel has also worked for large corporate firms such as Honeywell and Grupo Bimbo, giving her 19 total years in sales.
Mirel says she is still learning her position with IdentityMind, but she says her strength lies in her ability to relay the message to clients about the huge opportunity IdentityMind offers to those who choose us for their AML and KYC needs, especially in areas like transaction monitoring and identity proofing. Her team in Mexico City adores her, and find her to be a well-rounded, outgoing, and overall sales dynamo who is always ready to lend an ear or hand.
Mirel has a 13-year-old daughter who she says loves to sing — they can often be found at home singing as they prepare dinner together. They enjoy spoiling their Chow Chow, watching horror movies, camping, and spending time outdoors together.
Ashley Stanley | Lead Client Success Manager
Ashley is IdentityMind’s Lead Client Success Manager. She leads the support team and provides the guidance needed for others to learn how to be client advocates. To enhance the success of our KYC and AML compliance solutions, Ashley and her team do everything in their power to ensure that our customers can be proud and satisfied with the IdentityMind offering.
Highlighting the importance of the Trusted Digital Identities that separate us from competitors, Ashley helps our internal team and our clients understand the IdentityMind difference. Kanoe Knight, a Customer Success Manager who works with Ashley explains, “One of the things I most appreciate about Ashley is her willingness to help wherever needed. She’s a true team player, and her commitment to her customers is incredible. She’s constantly looking for ways to either improve, or find a solution for any issues that arise.”
Ashley is a Colville Confederated Tribe Member and a descendant of the Lakes Band. The Colville Confederated Tribe is a consolidated tribe of 12 local Inland Northwest (INW) bands, including the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce near the Washington-Canada border. Born in Spokane Valley, Ashley was raised by her grandparents in Inchelium, Washington, until she was four, when she was adopted by her aunt and uncle and raised in Spokane, where she continues to live today.
Always industrious and hard-working, Ashley got her first job at 14 working for Zip’s Drive-In. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to improve her chances of success and make a better life for herself and her family. Prior to working for IdentityMind, Ashley was a credit card processor specializing in e-commerce with Merchant E-Solutions (MeS), where she worked her way up to become Manager of the Account Setup and PCI Compliance teams for more than 11 years.
After being referenced in, Ashley was asked by IdentityMind CEO, Garrett Gafke , to join the team and assist with opening a new operations branch in Spokane, where she would manage the IdentityMind clientbase. “We immediately knew she would be a great fit based on her customer focus and get-it-done attitude,” Garrett says, adding, “We just love Ashley — she’s an integral part of the IdentityMind culture. Her ability to put our customers first makes her such an important part of what we aspire to every day.” Ashley helped to establish the IdentityMind Spokane office, where she currently leads her Customer Success Manager (CSM) team, including team members with product development, implementation, and support, as well as fintech experience. “Ashley has a wealth of industry and IdentityMind platform knowledge. She’s a team leader — always willing to help,” says another Spokane-based Customer Success Manager, Chad Mayer, adding, “She’s so in tune with her customers — she’s an amazing customer advocate.”
“Working with IdentityMind and succeeding the way I have as native makes me so proud,” Ashley says, adding, “To know that our SaaS Platform helps prevent sex trafficking with our detection measures adds to those reasons — because this is an epidemic with our native women and children today that does not have the notoriety or voice we are fighting to expose.”
Ashley continues to build our Spokane team and maintain our client relationships, and says she’s continuously developing true friendships every day, which is a meaningful part of the works she enjoys. Advocating for clients and helping to navigate them to success through planning with our engineering, operations, finance, marketing, and sales departments to achieve their goals.
When she’s not helping customers succeed at IdentityMind, Ashley loves exploring the outdoors, and enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, and gardening every chance she gets.
Jun Liang | Senior QA Engineer
Jun is a Senior Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer in the IdentityMind Engineering department. She initially joined IdentityMind as an Implementation Engineer, then moved over to the QA team. Because she knows the features of our patented eDNA and IdentityLink API well, Jun has a knack for being able to see things from the client perspective. Jun also has keen analytical abilities and strong methodical testing skills for the QA position she holds.
Born into a family of health workers in Shanghai, China, Jun attended Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and received her Master of Science degree in Chinese medicine. After graduation, Jun practiced Chinese medicine in Hong Kong for three years before joining the China branch of Johnson & Johnson as a hospital supervisor and product manager. Five years later, her career was interrupted by her immigration to the US, where she decided to study computer science. Two years after enrolling in a graduate program at Eastern Washington University, Jun completed her graduate work with a specialty in multimedia design. After 10 years of experience at two different tech companies, Jun landed her ideal job at IdentityMind.
“Growing up in a foreign country, and originally trained in a different field, I had to overcome some obstacles, including the language barrier, family relocation, cultural conflict, and professional retooling, to get to where I am today,” Jun tells us, adding, “Changes bring people both inconveniences and opportunities. Unanticipated circumstances forced me to adapt to new environments and start a fresh career quickly.” After moving to the US, Jun’s career changed from the medical field to the tech field. With 10 years of experience with a credit card processing company and a multimedia software developing company, in March 2015, Jun joined the team at IdentityMind, which she says opened a new world for her. “I learn new things every day and feel a great deal of fulfillment in my daily life,” Jun explains.
In one performance review, her supervisor, Cynthia Tham , Head of Engineering, wrote, “Jun has become an influencer in the company in her own quiet manner. She’s seen as someone with a lot of passion for quality and respect for her coworkers.” Cynthia also praises what she says is Jun’s “unique ability to take a complex feature and break it down to manageable and testable pieces,” noting this kind of professional quality truly “distinguishes Jun from the crowd.”
With a great attitude and hard work ethic, Jun is always willing to meet new challenges. She’s always open to any new idea or assignment, and she believes in teamwork. When asked what it’s like to work in tech, Jun explains, “Although the world of high tech is still a male-dominated field, I am never afraid of expressing my views or making suggestions to my colleagues — never underestimate the wisdom of a woman!”
In her leisure time, Jun enjoys traveling, photography, music, and all things fashion. In defense of her shopping habit, Jun quotes Coco Chanel: “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Jun adds, “Art and fashion bring a lot of joy and creativity to my life.” But, Jun’s personal style runs a lot deeper than what she chooses to wear. Her ability, deep understanding, and unrivaled experience make her a true asset to the IdentityMind team.
Jana Alonso | Product Manager
Jana is part of the IdentityMind Product team, where she works as the Product Manager. She works with our clients to obtain feedback, and subsequently, learn how we can make our KYC and AML compliance products better. It’s also Jana’s job to make sure that clients are getting the most out of the IdentityMind SaaS platform and our other offerings.
Jana grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, and is the third of four daughters. She recalls her childhood as an active and happy one, noting that her parents were very focused on helping Jana and her sisters understand the importance of independence and freedom on a personal level. Growing up, Jana remembers that one of her parents’ favorite things to say was, “More liberty, more responsibility,” something that sticks with her to this day. “The more I decide to take on, the more I am responsible for making sure I’m not negatively affecting others with my decisions,” Jana explains, adding, “It’s up to me to accomplish what I set out to do.”
Her goal-setting approach to life and work are no secret at IdentityMind, where Jana is known for her hard work, dedication, and clever spirit. As an intellectually and culturally curious person, Jana, like many others on the IdentityMind team, is well traveled, and has lived everywhere from Germany and the UK to China, Bali, and Indonesia. Her international travels made her the well-rounded person we know and work with today, as Cynthia Tham , Head of Engineering explains. “My first impression of Jana was that she is kind and caring. Overtime, I also learned that she’s fearless. She is a sponge and will learn anything to get the job done — she has this ‘nothing is rocket science, I will learn it’ attitude,” Cynthia says, adding, “I’m often in awe at how quickly Jana became an expert in our product with the ability to assist our clients in making the most of it on a regular basis.”
Discussing her introduction to IdentityMind, Jana explains she was working for meXBT, a crypto exchange client of IdentityMind, when she says she fell in love with the team and the product, and knew she needed to work with IdentityMind. Jana believes in the power of a positive mindset during the problem-solving process, suggesting that it gives her a perspective that’s better for getting to an outcome that’s also positive. “I think being able to understand the needs of our clients and being able to convey these needs to our team is one of the most interesting things my work requires of me,” Jana says, noting that, “Making sure our clients understand how important they are to us is the most important part of my job, so I’m always sure to convey this in every communication.”
Jana enjoys working and living in Mexico City; she resides in Miguel Hidalgo, an urban enclave known for its museums and views of Chapultepec Castle. When she’s not taking care of business at IdentityMind, you’ll find Jana relaxing at home, out dancing with friends, and enjoying movies. Marie D. Sample | Executive Assistant to the CEO
Marie is the assistant to our CEO, Garrett Gafke, and she also assists with countless other administrative tasks, including HR, recruiting, onboarding, and employee departures — and that’s just the beginning. “Every member of our team relies on Marie; she’s the glue at IdentityMind — I couldn’t survive without her,” Garrett says, adding, “She is largely responsible for making it possible for me to focus on actionable steps in the important work we do, and she has an innate ability to organize and prioritize things in a way that keeps us on-track with our goals, both large and small.” All of this and so much more explain why Marie was named IdentityMind’s Rockstar in Q3 2015.
Born in a small town on the coast of Texas, Marie is the youngest of four children. She is half Mexican, and first-generation American on her father’s side of the family, which migrated from General Teran, Mexico. Marie’s father became a pharmacist, and later, an entrepreneur. Her mother was born in England, the only child of a US Air Force family, who later became the first female engineer for Exxon. “Never wasteful with what they had, my parents and grandparents taught me the value of working hard to achieve what you want,” Marie explains.
Having understood the value of hard work from an early age, Marie graduated from high school in just three years. Later, while working full-time as a columnist and editorial assistant at a local newspaper to pay her way through college, Marie obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration in three years as well. She went on to manage over 20 employees, teach fitness classes, and oversee maintenance at her local YMCA. At 22, Marie relocated to Houston when she was offered a management position with Target, where she managed a SuperTarget and the store’s softlines department. Though she appreciated the opportunity at Target, Marie did not — in her words — “love” retail; after 18 months, she moved on to pursue an administrative position as the assistant to the COO for Music World Entertainment — a premier entertainment company managing the careers of numerous artists, including Beyoncé.
But her time at Target wasn’t for naught: during her tenure there, Marie met her husband, Randy, a USMC officer, on a blind date. The two were married 16 months later. Shortly following their marriage, Randy and Marie moved to Pensacola, FL, where Randy began flight school. A short six months later, the couple was stationed in Corpus Christi, TX so Randy could complete flight school. While there, IdentityMind CEO, Garrett Gafke reached out to Marie after seeing her resume online, and offered her the assistant to the CEO position. “Seven years later, and I am still here! This company has seen me through six moves, the births of three children, and countless other milestones,” Marie says. When asked how Marie contributes to the IdentityMind team, everyone has a lot to say. Abram Gordon, an attorney for IdentityMind who regularly works with her, sums it up. “Marie is truly an indispensable member of our IdentityMind team. Not only is she the glue that holds the company together, she is unbelievably helpful, knows every aspect of the business, and has a fantastic personality.”
As a woman, a minority, a working mom and wife, and a business owner in her own right, Marie brings tremendous passion and loyalty to the IdentityMind team. Her unrivaled tenacity is an inspiration to the whole team — and everyone here knows, we couldn’t do it without Marie! When she’s not at work, you’ll find Marie trying new recipes for her husband, who has celiac disease, reading, going to the gym, and loving on her babies.
Cynthia Tham | Head of Engineering
Cynthia Tham is the Head of Engineering at IdentityMind. Her team spans the disciplines of software development, quality assurance (QA), documentation, and user experience (UX). Cynthia began working with IdentityMind when there were just seven people on the team. But, she explains, “It was important to me that the company grow while maintaining a flat culture that encourages honesty and teamwork, and we have done that by tenfold.” Cynthia believes that an environment that allows people to “agree to disagree” promotes growth — as long as it does not come from a place of ego. Those on her team know, open discussions are a guiding principle, and they have led to many of our successes in engineering and beyond.
Like many of her peers in tech and at IdentityMind, Cynthia is a global citizen. Born in Myanmar, Cynthia left the country when she was two, spending her formative years in Hong Kong, California, Florida, and Texas; she continues to visit Europe frequently today, as her husband’s family is in Ireland. She says that having experiences of many places with cultural and political differences allows her to be more open-minded, makes her ready to accept new circumstances, and lets her be comfortable with the unknown.
Everyone in her family always expected Cynthia to be a lawyer. As a child, she always enjoyed a good debate — for those who know her, this hasn’t changed. Her earliest career interest was in social work, because people were interesting to her, and because she wanted to be helpful. After a summer interning at a community center, Cynthia realized she would not be able to detach her emotions after witnessing the hardship of the underprivileged public. She later entered UCSD as a chemical engineering major. After quickly realizing she enjoyed programming more than chemistry, Cynthia changed her major, and the rest, she says, is history.
Cynthia likes the software industry because it’s growing rapidly, and, as she says, “The work is always interesting and exciting. I love that I am always learning something new and working with intelligent people.” When it comes to wanting to have the best solution, Cynthia says software engineers are the perfect people to engage with for an honest and healthy debate, where the answers are about so much more than just winning an argument. She’s known among her peers at IdentityMind as a strong proponent for intellectual conversation, which has allowed her to build a strong engineering team. Cynthia has co-authored and lead papers and other publications about the OMG Mobile Agent System Interoperability Facility (MASIF), the SQL Access Group’s Call Level Interface and ISO 9579-1 OSI-RDA Generic Model, Service & Protocol.
With regard to her role at IdentityMind, Cynthia says, “I am a team builder. I believe in the power of the team, and I aim to bring people together who are collaborators with a high work ethic. To those I interview and those who have just joined the team, I say, ‘We hire people with strong work-ethic; you own the outcome and timeliness of your work, but you are never alone.’” Those who work with Cynthia have a lot to say about her warm approach, her sense of camaraderie, and the fact that she listens to her team. “Cynthia has a work ethic that inspires the rest of us, but it’s so much more than that,” says Product Marketing Manager, Cristal Gonzalez, adding, “She has a deep understanding and knowledge of the platform throughout all of its iterations because she’s been here since the beginning. To newcomers, this insight is so valuable.”
When she’s not at IdentityMind, Cynthia likes to dabble in different hobbies, including gardening, crocheting, and carpentry — her most recent accomplishment is a chicken coop. Cynthia lives with her husband, two children, Havanese dog, hamster, and four chickens. “Unfortunately, it’s illegal to own a hedgehog in California, so I’ll have to stop here,” Cynthia jokes. She says she feels blessed to work with the IdentityMind team every day. Those lucky enough to work with Cynthia will tell you: the feeling is mutual.
Turkish Dining: A Courtship Delight(?)
Turkish cuisine is colourful Central Asian, Ottoman, and Middle Eastern fused cuisine and presents various breads, meats, stuffed eggplants, and even special pizzas. Eating Turkish cuisine can be fun and romantic and very sensual and may involve eating with your fingers/hands (for which waiters will give you special rose-water to clean your hands before dining!).
It might be cool/stylish for you to take your spouse/partner to a high-quality Turkish restaurant for Valentine’s Day or on New Year’s Day. I thought I’d present some thoughts on the fun of Turkish dining, so you can prepare for such a nice experience. While I’m Asian (Indian) American, I’m familiar with the spice-flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine and find parallels between Indian, Turkish, African, Vietnamese, Thai, and even Korean cuisine.
To enjoy a Turkish dining experience at a praised restaurant in NYC (e.g., Agora ), LA (e.g., Spireworks ), or DC ( Ankara ), you might want to consider why Turkish cuisine is both inviting, exotic, sensual, imaginative, and generally fun. Turkish dining is the right choice for a date night in the city!
You want your date/spouse to have a good time dining with you and the food to be tasty, the service to be adequate, and atmosphere to feel nice, and the presentation of food and aesthetics to be right(!). Turkish dining will offer all these if you go to the right place (e.g., Ankara in D.C.). Be prepared to eat with your hands/fingers and honestly tell your date this is your first time experimenting with Mediterranean, Turkish, or Middle Eastern cuisine!
You’ll immediately be taken by the variety and color of hands-friendly dishes and breads and sauces and meats and pastes and veggies and spice(!) at a Turkish restaurant such as Spireworks in L.A. You’ll want to dig in with your date/spouse and converse with each other (e.g., on Valentine’s Day) regarding what makes the dining so fun and offbeat(!). Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and the experience will feel like a pageant. Yes…
Turkish people are proud of their culture/cuisine, so you’ll not be surprised by the nice presentation and colors in the foods at Ankara or Agora (in NYC!). The chefs preparing the dishes are perhaps of Turkish origin and are familiar with what makes Turkish cuisine very exotic and memorable to Americans looking for an unusual dining experience. Take in the flavors and the atmosphere, and you’ll generally feel giddy about why cuisine variegation in today’s U.S. cities makes you feel good about multiculturalism, consumerism, and hospitality.
Finally, don’t feel you have to be too experimental or sophisticated to absorb the experience at a place like Agora in NYC. The key is to enjoy eating and learn about the colors and flavors of Turkey and why Turkish dining can feel both romantic and fun(!). If you keep all this in mind, a Turkish restaurant visit in LA, DC, or NY will make you feel very good about ‘American delight’ in consumerism. Take this sound advice from an ethnic-minority U.S. citizen who definitely appreciates American deals…