Celebrate Women’s History Month
Celebrate Women’s History Month with us as we honor several of our popular Northwest women restaurateurs for their contribution to the industry and their communities.
Matilda Novak – Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant, Albany
Matilda Baumgartner Novak was born in Hungary in 1935. She and her husband spent time in an internment camp in Yugoslavia before meeting up with her brother in California.
Matilda (“Mama”) was a phenomenal cook who entertained a lot. Everyone always told Mama she should open up a restaurant, so when Papa got laid off from his job, they decided to do it, opening the original “Novak’s Hungarian Paprikas” in Albany, Oregon, in April 1984.
Over the years they’ve been blessed with a loyal following and have been recognized by “Northwest Best Places” and “Bon Appetit.” While Chicken Paprikas remains their signature dish, they serve many other delicious Hungarian and continental dishes as well as tasty pastries. Matilda and her husband are past winners of the American Dream Faces of Diversity Award and you’re likely to see Matilda still working at the restaurant if you stop by.
Diane Santucci – Russell Street BBQ, Portland
Diane started her culinary journey early in life. She was blessed with a mom who was a food adventurer. They would watch Julia Child on TV and follow recipes from “The Art of French Cooking”. They also regularly hit pit BBQs in Virginia for pulled pork sandwiches with slaw.
Later, Diane gleaned new skills, tastes, and techniques when she worked for a high end Deli, a seafood restaurant, a new age burger joint, as well as traditional “white tablecloth” dining. Diane still loves to works hands-on in the kitchen, either on the line or creating fun and satisfying specials.
After 37 years of food experience, Diane still revels in making the perfect pulled pork sandwich her mother would approve of and heartily enjoy!
Catherine & Cheryl Reinhart – Sweet Life Patisserie, Eugene
Catherine Reinhart and her sister Cheryl started the award-winning Sweet Life Patisserie in 1993, creating wedding and birthday cakes in their converted-garage-bakery in the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, Oregon.
Now on Monroe Street, a team of bakers and decorators turn out pastries around the clock. Sweet Life’s cakes, pastries and desserts are lovingly hand-made from scratch, using both traditional French and classic American recipes. The sisters work daily behind the scenes, dreaming up fabulous desserts and finding new ways to make their business more community oriented and earth-friendly.
Find out more about women in the restaurant industry.