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meet the team

Bonnie Altholz   Bonnie Altholz
Director of Special Events

An accomplished Chef, Professional Baker, and a background in NYC restaurant management, Bonnie brought diversity and added knowledge to Certé from day one that compliments the most challenging of events. She currently oversees the company’s larger, high-volume clients and has been working a mere step from Chef Sylvia since Certe’s inception.  Creating a bond of trust with each client she manages is the pinnacle of Bonnie’s business philosophy, which partners perfectly with Certé’s core values. Her extensive experience in catering and event production enables her to produce high end large scale events. Bonnie believes in not only bringing her client’s vision to life, but also delivering a “Knockout Sensation” to each and every event she develops with her clients.

When she has a day off (which is rare!), Bonnie likes to keep in shape, attends Broadway shows, and is a sports enthusiast ... with a love for football, basketball and Yankee baseball.

Favorite Menu Item: Bonnie has a weakness for Certé’s Valrhona Chocolate Brownies and the Margherita Pizza at Pizza by Certé
PJ Jordan   PJ Jordan
Client Relations Director/Business Development

With over 20 years of hospitality experience in catering, fine dining and hotel management, PJ is heavily involved in the growth of the company and ensures that our communications and customer services retain their high standards, as well as supporting the company with sales and marketing at both Certé and Pizza by Certé. She has an immense list of duties but basically, her job revolves around making clients happy!  She also heads up our “green” marketing efforts and assists Chef Sylvia in his efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. So in addition to following up to ensure 100% customer satisfaction, PJ is the go-to person for a multitude of questions, concerns, unsolved mysteries and general “repairs”.

A keen food-lover, PJ likes cooking her native Southern food and enjoys painting her latest masterpiece, sewing, exploring NYC restaurants and is a football fanatic.

Favorite Menu Item: PJ can’t resist Certé’s Fig Crostini and the Rice Balls at Pizza by Certé
Kenza Karkari   Kenza Karkari
Event Designer

Kenza plays a prominent role at Certé as an Event Designer. A Long Island girl, she graduated from Temple University with a degree in Speech and Language, but soon realized her passion for food exceeded her original plans as a Speech Therapist when she had a brief stint as a restaurant server. She thrives on the months of planning, weeks of preparations, (or sometimes just days), crazy last-minute changes, and behind-the-scenes mayhem all culminating in smiling guests, a beautiful room, delicious food and unobtrusive service. She constructs any event, large or small, with trademark precision, “mapping out the blueprints” for even the most challenging situation.

Her passion for food and cooking keeps her trying new (and sometimes famous) restaurants while her fondness for traveling fuels her devotion for stalking celebrity Chefs.  Not surprisingly, she is well skilled with knives.

Favorite Menu Item: Even though she has a sophisticated palate, Kenza cannot pass up Certé’s Mac & Cheese and Pizza by Certé’s Lafayette Slice ... makes her feel right at home
Bonnie Altholz   Robert Montes
Kitchen Manager

Another long-time employee of Certé, Robert worked his way up through the ranks starting as a dishwasher in 2001.  He has been educated by Chef Sylvia and worked daily side by side with him for many years before taking over as Kitchen Manager, and is still relatively sane. He oversees all kitchen production and brings many years of culinary experience to the team. His resilience and stamina allow our customers the flexibility to challenge Certé with the most vital requests. Robert ensures all your food is cooked to perfection and presented beautifully.  Chef Sylvia remarks “having Robert in the kitchen allows me the time to focus on the service end of the business and builds an uncommon bridge between the kitchen and the front of the house.”

On a rare day off, Robert likes spending time with his family, martial arts and surprisingly ... cooking at home.

Favorite Item to Cook: Lobster Thermidor
Cleopatra Clarke   Carlos Ramirez
Counter Intelligence

Bringing outstanding organizational skills and extensive experience to the position of “Counter Intelligence,” Carlos oversees the important day-to-day production of our Retail Counter and small delivery operations. Originally from Mexico City, but a Manhattanite for over 25 years and a member of the Certé Team for over 10 years, he ensures no one has to wait when they order for delivery, or come into the store to order in person.  He safeguards our menu offerings and guarantees the quality of the food is respected and held to the higher standards set by Chef Sylvia.  Carlos' unique ability to be everywhere in a high-volume, high-pressured, fast-paced environment while ensuring every order is correctly prepared,  packed appropriately, and delivered on time makes him a powerful asset to Certé.  He takes the “Bull by the Horns” to get things done and find solutions when no one else can, a dedicated team member who shares our food and management philosophy.

When he’s not up to his elbows in orders, he relishes spending as much time with his family and 2 children as possible.  He is also an avid sports fan.

Favorite Menu Item: Carlos cannot stay away from Certé’s Glazed Sirloin Sandwich and Pizza by Certé’s Tagliatelle
Peter Tochet   Peter Tochet
Director of Purchasing & Procurement

Graduating from the “School of Hard Knocks,“ Peter comes to us with a vast background in purchasing at major hotel and restaurant groups. One of his main responsibilities is to negotiate pricing especially during these economically challenging times and our entire philosophy of quality food at great prices is based on Peter’s success. As a former Corporate Trainer, he provides invaluable input to the leadership team, always offering suggestions to improve processes and ideas. Additionally, he is always on the lookout for fresh innovative products and new ways to help us cut down on waste, reusing energy and centering ourselves towards efficiency.

A former amateur boxer, Peter likes to continually hone his skills and also collects Lionel Trains and is a classic car and motorcycle enthusiast.

Favorite Menu Item: Peter is a big fan of Certé’s Chubby Porky Sandwich and the ‘Kalezone’ at Pizza by Certé
Cleopatra Clarke   Cleopatra Clarke
Accounting

Cleo started college, not in the Accounting field at all, but in Forensic Science.  While working as a receptionist, her eye for details and keen attention to numbers soon landed her a position in the Accounting department, which further convinced her to pursue an Accounting degree.  She does, however, utilize some of the skills she learned in the field of Forensics … as she examines all things under a microscope.

A native of Ghana, and having experienced dishes from different cultures coupled with enjoying food from several ethnicities, it only seemed natural she would marry a Chef.  On her spare days, usually just Sundays, Cleo relaxes at home and watches football or western movies with her husband.

Favorite Menu Item: Cleo enjoys Certé’s Thai Beef Salad and the Pizza Ciagels at Pizza by Certé
  pizza by certé
Diego Ayala   Diego Ayala
Manager

Diego began his career at Certé in 2004 as a dishwasher. After a mere 2 weeks, Chef Sylvia put him behind a sauté pan and he's been cooking ever since becoming a vital member of our kitchen team. Over a year and a half before Pizza by Certé opened, he assisted Chef Sylvia with the pizza dough technique, which actually took a year to perfect. He became fascinated with all aspects of being a “green” restaurant and began helping with all recipes and procedures to guarantee the “made from scratch” concept using fresh, local ingredients (no cans here). Making sauce from fresh tomatoes, house made pasta and dough, along with ensuring we stay within the policies of a Certified Green Restaurant can be grueling. Diego manages to do it all with a big smile.

When he's not cooking up a storm, you'll find Diego working out, playing basketball and experimenting with new dishes.

Favorite Menu Item to Cook: Pizza by Certé Meatballs
Luisa Quero   Luisa Quero
Assistant Manager

Having been with us almost since the very beginning working the phones and expediting orders, there's not a lot Luisa doesn't know about Pizza by Certé. Prior to joining us, she graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in Sociology and History. Luisa strongly believes that you do “whatever it takes” to make people happy and seems to never tire of accommodating one request after another. We have been so impressed by her dedication and professionalism on and off the phone, that she has taken over the role of Assistant Manager. She is truly a natural in a business that is client oriented.

When she is not bringing her infectious smile to work, Luisa devotes the majority of her time with family and continuing her education. She enjoys reading, walking on the beach, music and watching movies (dramas!).

Favorite Menu Item: Luisa's go-to dishes are Pizza by Certé’s Meatballs & Chicken Tagliatelle
Bonnie Altholz   Joseph Spagna, Jr.
Environmental Consultant

Born in the Great Depression, Joe “Pops” has developed a natural ability to be environmentally-friendly without having to make an effort! The majority of his life was spent owning and operating a highly successful waste management business. He was recruited from retirement to oversee the composting and waste separation at Pizza by Certé to ensure we maintain an appropriate measure of compliance with our 3-Star status with the Green Restaurant Association.

Pops is an avid traveler and has a student's pilot license, likes to hit the golf course and values time with his grandchildren.

Favorite Menu Item: Pops is partial to Certé’s Split Pea Soup and the Margherita Pizza at Pizza by Certé
 
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