Sam Appel is redefining the food and beverage industry.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Zagat.
The go-to restaurant guide has just named the 2006 Staples High School grad one of its 30 New York influencers under 30 years old.
Or, as the headline reads: “Rockstars Redefining the Industry.”
Sam was recognized for her work as director of community and programming at Journee. The members-only club for restaurant professionals focuses on career development and continuing education. She helps build and sustain the community — with programming, classes, networking and other projects — in Journee’s 21st Avenue space.
Of course, no one becomes a rock star by herself.
At Staples, Sam 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.
After graduating from Cornell in 2010, Sam joined restaurant software company Avero as a consultant. She then moved to a marketing position with Chipotle. (Her territory included Westport — so she was involved when they expanded here.)
As a founder of the Toklas Society, she helped build, market and run a nonprofit fostering the professional development of women in food and hospitality.
Sam’s goal is for hospitality to be taken “as seriously as any other career.”
Like, say, rock ‘n’ roll.