Sam Appel’s Alice B. Toklas Connection

As a child, Sam Appel created “menus” of cereal and yogurt for her parents — and asked them to pay for their meals.

At Staples High School, she took every culinary class she could. She served as a teaching assistant for instructor Cecily Gans; worked at her summer cooking camp; helped with her catering jobs, and assisted on a cookbook.

Sam was drawn to Chef Gans’ “personality, artistry, and beautiful food.”

She was similarly inspired by English teacher Gus Young. He introduced her to the “art and magic” of food writing.

Not surprisingly, Sam’s college application essay was about food writing.

She had thought about culinary schools. But when she discovered Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration — with its focus on hospitality — she realized that the business side of food was as intriguing as cooking it.

Sam Appel

After graduating from Cornell in 2010, she joined restaurant software company Avero as a consultant. Last May she moved to a marketing position with Chipotle. (Her territory includes Westport — so, coincidentally, she’s involved with their soon-to-be-opened restaurant here.)

Sam loves her job. But she’s just as passionate about the Toklas Society. Named for the legendary cookbook author/creative salon hostess Alice B. Toklas, the 2-year-old nonprofit provides opportunities for empowerment, networking and professional growth to women in the (traditionally male-dominated) food and hospitality industry.

As director of communications, Sam hears plenty of stories about — and is inspired by — female chefs and entrepreneurs.

The Toklas Society has just partnered with Food & Wine Magazine. The prestigious publication and Toklas will feature leaders and rising stars in the food and beverage worlds (on Twitter, follow #foodwinewomen).

Sam Appel is proud that she can support talented women in an industry she loves. She is equally proud that her passion was stirred by 2 key people — Chef Cecily Gans, and English teacher Gus Young — a decade ago at Staples High School.



3 responses to “Sam Appel’s Alice B. Toklas Connection

  1. Always nice to read a story that comes full circle!!

    Sam’s love of food started at home in Westport, was encouraged by two of the many great inspiring teachers at Staples High School (Cecily Gans and Gus Young), furthered at Cornell’s top notch School of Hotel Administration and finally Sam returns to Westport to help open the best and healthiest fast food restaurant – Chipotle (our grandson Fitz’s favorite and only fast food restaurant!!).

    See you at Chipotle! (I’ll be the older white haired guy probably with a much taller good looking younger guy)

  2. It’s always great to read about someone who is able to make a career out of her passion and of the inspiration provided by teachers.

    It’s also nice to see how far the culinary class offerings have evolved since our days in high school. I took “Foods” class second semester senior year at Staples and I think the most sophisticated dish we learned how to cook was Swiss steak. (My motivation was admittedly somewhat different than Sam’s since I basically signed up for the course to share a class with a certain female classmate.)

  3. Marcy Anson Fralick

    I also took as many culinary classes as I could starting in Long Lots with Home Ec and moving on to more creative classes at Staples. I really learned a lot. In fact, I can still boil water!!!

    Congrats, Sam. Obviously you got so much more out of your clasess than I, and Wesport is very lucky to have you back home again!