WASHINGTON – Zagat calls her a young cheese maestro, but fellow alumni of the Whitman High School grad know her as Sophie.
Sophie Slesinger, who works at Saxelby Cheesemongers in New York, was recently named to Zagat’s 2013 list of “30-Under-30: New York City’s Food and World Up-And-Comers.” The honor not only puts Slesinger, 25, at the top of her peer group but also afforded her the experience of ringing the New York Stock Exchange opening bell Tuesday.
“When it came close to 9:30 a.m., they cranked up the music, which was this sort of stock, action movie soundtrack which was very hilarious. And they cranked that up and there was a countdown and everyone was clapping and cheering,” Slesinger explains.
While taking photos with fellow winners, Slesinger didn’t know that those pictures would be projected on the front of the Nasdaq building in Times Square.
“It’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she says.
All the attention seems a far cry from her start at Bethesda’s Praline Bakery, run by two former White House pastry chefs.
“I basically knocked on the door during construction and bothered one of the owners, Susan, until she agreed to hire me,” Slesinger says.
While she loves working at New York’s Saxelby Cheesemongers, Slesinger says her big dreams are tied to her family’s Sicilian background.
“I love the idea of working with my family and carrying on tradition and preserving history, and bringing something so delicious from my family and my life to everyone and having them fall in love with it,” Slesinger says.
Zagat describes part of the reson why they chose Slesinger in its 30-Under-30 blog post.
“After getting her degree at Emory University, she arrived in New York City and ultimately landing a gig working with cheesemonger Anne Saxelby, helping to produce her fromage-focused show “Cutting the Curd”on the Heritage Radio network. Slesinger also focuses on working with wholesale customers and doing marketing and events,” the blog entry says.
Georgetown graduate Laura Ryan, 27, also made Zagat’s list. Ryan works in communication and special projects for Craft Restaurants.
Zagat’s entry for Ryan says, “a recent promotion now has her managing all of the charity and food events for (Tom) Colicchio’s restaurants, and acting as the hub of the group’s social media and deals with partnerships.
See the entire list here.