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Becca Parrish

As the founder of Becca, Becca Parrish has built a reputation championing the best in the hospitality business. She and her team have a knack for discovering new talent and collaborating with world-class creatives, from Eric Ripert to Ralph Lauren. With offices in New York, Chicago and LA, Becca believes in the power of thoughtful PR, the rarest kind.

Always hungry for more

@becish

“I frequently initiate the conversation to say, “Stop paying us. Use that money elsewhere. Figure things out.” And then because we’re not getting anywhere, I feel like we’re on the same team. I don’t want to take a dollar unless I think I’m going to exceed someone’s expectations”

It is not enough to know the best restaurants in New York – Becca Parrish also has them in her hands: the doors of consecrated houses such as The Odeon, The Polo Bar and Estela, for example, open to the journalist and PR at first command – she not only redefined the national communications sector for the areas of gastronomy, but also for culture and tourism. Becca’s success at the table (and at all costs) was due to the unique seasoning of journalistic and culinary curiosity, which has always harmonized in the bustling life of the South – devouring life hastily but delighting in it.

A calm path that is capable of a good narrative: the secret ingredient of success that for more than 14 years permeates the career of the communicator. In command of an entirely female and sharp team, the journalist justifies her leadership as one of the few professionals in the field that truly understand and ponders the bittersweet balance that unites restaurateurs and editors on the same agenda – a talent that makes reporters and chefs always come back and with more and more appetite.

“Literally there’s been so many interesting conversations we’ve had around food. And certainly wellness and beauty, that’s a natural one. So I think that we’ll be doing that more and more for our clients”

Claur: We believe that your office receives a lot of requests from bloggers, influencers. And how can you filter?
Becca Parrish: We’re learning on the job. I do think that influencers are the same, in terms of if you were to say what’s the difference between PR and advertising or marketing and advertising. PR in particular, it’s someone else saying it’s cool. It’s not like if you open a magazine or you’re watching TV, you know if it’s an advertisement, although less and less, right? Because those lines have been blurred. But it’s very powerful that someone chose something, said, “Hey, my reader. You’re going to dig this. I’m giving it my seal of approval. I’m devoting real estate and time to reporting on this thing. You should check it out.” So influencers the same thing. As we know, there’s a whole category growing of people who don’t read anything and get their news solely from social media. So in the same way, people that follow people that they like or admire, then they’re giving it their stamp of approval. “You should watch this. You see this, our experience with this restaurant, check out this chef.” So in terms of evaluating who is legit and he was not, I think it’s really a learning process. Just as someone might write something about it and they took a negative spin. Or we invite a blogger somewhere, and they come, work up an enormous tab, and then don’t leave any gratuity to the staff. It’s over. So I think that their influence is not going to go anywhere, but I do think that we are trying to come up with a network of trusted influencers that have a track record of behaving well, and producing. And that the nice part about that is it’s measurable. You can see if people are liking it or if that ends in a transaction

Claur: Do you cook?
Becca Parrish: I don’t anymore. I cook a little bit, but pretty much this is my life where I eat out at the best restaurants in the city. And then if I’m home, I will say that any man I’ve ever loved, loves to cook. So I’m well fed at home by someone else, or I’m dining out pretty much. Or I’ll do, my daughter and I call it snacky plates where it’s just smoked salmon, really good cheese, some fruit. Everything’s raw, that will be a dinner on occasion. But pretty much it’s restaurants or a man cooking for me.

Claur:  For your personal decision when you’re going out on a Saturday, what are your five top restaurants to go to?
Becca Parrish: I still have to include The Odeon in there just because it’s so well lit and I just think a burger and a Manhattan. Or moules fries, I love getting an omelette with a great glass of Bordeaux and French fries. I just feel you can’t beat that.

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Claur: Talking about the PR business, where do you think that the business is going? How can you work in different ways for clients and the strategy, and how to … Because you said, “No only PR and not only for restaurants.” Right? So how can you expand now your business? If you want to expand it, where do you want to go?
Becca Parrish: Yeah. I think that frankly, we’re figuring that out. I think it’s been interesting to take our something we just not taken for granted, but how knowledgeable and dialed in we are in this space that I would say is North America, not only … Includes all of the US in terms of what’s happening in food. And you can see everything happen in between New York and Los Angeles, and then it creeping into places like Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia and Portland. And I mean the whole food scene has been very much elevated, and that goes from the food to the design to all of it. Which is super exciting. So I think to take that idea and knowledge base and then see how it might be useful to bigger brands that want to do cooler stuff and then to emerging chefs who are looking for things to do outside of their restaurant. So that used to be what an agent would do, but now it’s more part, I feel it’s part of PR marketing because we’re all creating content, we’re telling stories. You’re reaching new audiences.

Claur: Do you plan for example collaborations for the chefs that you work with?
Becca Parrish: Absolutely. And it’s exciting for everyone. And the brands run the gamut. It could be a fashion brand, to something that evolved in just general retail or developers. Everyone is trying to figure out. Literally there’s been so many interesting conversations we’ve had around food. And certainly wellness and beauty, that’s a natural one. So I think that we’ll be doing that more and more for our clients. And then kind of how we were talking before we started taping, but the idea of what you’re doing and creating a platform that is axillary, am I pronouncing that correctly? Ancillary to what we do, it’s not about PR marketing. It’s more creating content and having fun, and using our contacts and expertise to make something. Yeah. So we’ve done bits for ourselves like we do videos for the company and we use all the women on the team, and we have fun with that. But we’ve never made it more general interest. We do our newsletter and that kind of thing. But I don’t know, there could be something, and I’ve talked to people who have built incredible platforms on their own that are related to teaming with them to do something together.


Louise Vongerichten

Daughter of one of the most respected families of international cuisine, Louise explains the beginning of the social project Food Dreams and talks about her family recipe of happiness.

Food for thoughts

donorup @louise_ulukaya

“I remember that specific time where I saw all the chefs around and my dad and myself and he was spoonfeeding me literally, in the kitchen and I just love that whole happiness around food”

A little bit of everything: Louise devours life with pleasure as if she only knew beginnings – fate is a deep dish when she is hungry for challenges. Growing up between New York and Southern France, Louise experienced other cultures along the way, also living in Dubai, Hong Kong, and Washington before settling in 2005 in the ever-bittersweet Big Apple.

Daughter and sister of consecrated chefs, Louise always had the kitchen as the center of her universe, but she chose to gravitate into the orbit of finance during college and then immersed herself in an MBA at the ESSEC business school in Paris. The intolerance of social inequality, which is apparently a hereditary case among the Vongerichten, attacks especially the youngest, who took the lead in the clan’s social project, Food Dreams.

Created in 2016, the initiative aims to help young people in social vulnerability to achieve cutting-edge education and training in the high-gastronomy sector, so that at the end of the project, they will be able to enter the job market and give new seasonings to this indigestible problem.

” Well I love everything about eggs so eggs are my number one food to go, especially in the morning. So I like, just like to have, I like to call it, messy egg because it’s not scrambled, it’s not sunny-side up. It’s just like all over and then I just mix a lot of things in there” Louise

Claur: What is your concept of the Food Dreams Foundation and how did you start it?
Louise V.:  Food Dreams Foundation is a non-profit that my father, my brother and I decided to launch about two and a half years ago now. And, the way we started was pretty funny actually. Ah, we were driving um, a car, my dad and I, and drop a coin on the floor and I said, “Where should I put that?” And then he said, “Put it to the Jean-Georges Foundation, that’s his first name. And then a week later I asked to meet with him and to see him and over breakfast, I had a business plan ready about foundation because um, when he told me we should put the money to ah … his Jean-Georges Foundation-I thought this is a great idea. There are so many young people all over the world that’s need to help financial help to go to school. So we decided to launch it together as a family project so our idea and our mission is to have unprivileged students from all over the world. We also partner with UNICEF here in the USA so we can help refugees as well. To go to school and then we created a post-graduate program where all the students graduating will get into a one year program and they will be working through the different restaurants my family and I own in New York City. So they get knowledge about food. They can really know if they like more fine dining, fast schedule, farm to table, ah really different type of cuisine and different types of experiences and then ah, we guarantee them a job within the company. Ah, so It’s been really good to do that as a family because we both … all of us love food. We have that background, we have the passion. And it’s great to see um, that you can have ah, students in need. So it’s been a great journey so far. 

Claur: Can you describe your favorite breakfast?
Louise V.:  Well I love everything about eggs so eggs are my number one food to go, especially in the morning. So I like, just like to have, I like to call it, messy egg because it’s not scrambled, it’s not sunny-side up. It’s just like all over and then I just mix a lot of things in there. Mushroom, I love vegetables, um you know I … some cheese on top. Some ground beef. And it really holds me for a good part of the day because it’s very, you know, there’s a lot of nutrients in there. Ah, I love that. And then I try to balance it with some healthy, with some avocado and I’m obsessed with avocado so not necessarily avocado toast [crosstalk] It’s so good together so I try to … I always have avocado at home and I try to slice it, just some olive oil, salt, um as a side for my eggs. A little piece of bread and freshly squeezed orange juice and I’m good to go.

Claur: What food are you craving the most right now? Louise V.: So I am obsessed with ah, Japanese food. So, ah, and especially since I went to Japan for my first time, last year with my husband and we totally fell in love with the country and most specifically with the food. We love sushi and raw fish and because I was also pregnant for the past nine months and I couldn’t eat any raw fish so then now that baby is six months I’m just like every day going into Japanese food. And another thing that I love about Japanese food is their meat and the [inaudible] and I’m a big beef lover so we love that as well.

Claur: How would you describe a moment that brings you back to childhood? Louise V.: Um, I think one thing that made me change a little bit in terms of what I knew what I wanted to do in my life and I wanted to be in the food business was one time I came to visit my dad in New York and I was living in France at the time and I would be working as a hostess in the restaurant. You know, it was kind of like a summer job although I was only 8 years old. And ah, he would always bring me back in the kitchen to try food there with the chef and I remember, I was not really exposed to spices because I grew up in France and in France, we don’t have too much spice. It’s like salt, pepper and a lot of butter. Ah, but it made me try a lot of different flavors. Spices from India, from different parts of Asia, because he loves also Asian cuisine. And I really did love that love for other flavors and I think I remember that specific time where I saw all the chefs around and my dad and myself and he was spoonfeeding me literally, in the kitchen and I just love that whole happiness around food. And he really changed my way of seeing things, especially of seeing food and I knew at that moment that I really wanted to work in the food business.

Claur: If you could read anyone’s diary who would it be?
Louise V.: I think I would love to know um since we lost the foundation, I would love to have one of the students that we worked with that we helped. It would be interesting to know how, you know, we impacted their life and hopefully, in a good way. And I would love to see how emotional, how they feel. And after going to school, you know, after graduation. Finding a job, I would be very curious to read how they emotionally feel about their journey. So I would say, I would pick one of the scholars that we have, one of the students we have.

Claur: What is your idea about happiness?
Louise V.: So, my baby, Miran was born about six and a half months ago and um, I, you know, I’m sure all the moms says, will say that about their kids but for me that changed my life in the most beautiful way and spending time just like in the morning when he wakes up and he has the most beautiful smile. He’s waiting for me or my husband to pick him up and we usually grab him in our bed and we play with him. This is pure happiness and heaven for us.


Photos: Aline Velter