About MeMonica Gelinas
My Food Journey
Starting my bio with childhood memories of my grandmother’s cooking would be lovely, but it would also be untrue. The real story is that my interest in food began with eating in hometown Jersey diners and “following” my high school boyfriend to his college, where I received my BS at the Cornell Hotel School. From there, my food journey has been inspired by teachers and mentors where I have learned from some of the best visionaries in food.
The Good Food Movement
Shepherding the “good food” movement from niche to mainstream has been a recurring theme throughout my career. I started to focus on operations and built out fast-casual concepts like Pret A Manger, where I was its first U.S. employee overseeing supply, marketing, and product development as it entered the global market. This was a nascent time for fast casual and natural/organic food, when retailers like Chipotle and Whole Foods Market were reimagining the landscape. After getting my MS in Global Affairs from NYU, I joined the team at leading food systems agency KK&P (Karen Karp & Partners), where we brought cutting-edge ideas into reality for national policies and community-based organizations.
As demand for farm-to-table transparency increased, I brought sourcing and supply chain issues to the forefront. This led to forming my own consultancy, GritWork, where I have guided entrepreneurs and organizations on developing food and creating operations infrastructure. I’ve led foodservice and CPG concepts of all types and sizes, including commodity, along every step of the chain, including BluePrint Juice, Centerplate (Sodexo), and DIG (Dig Inn), to name a few.
As the food industry evolves, I’m engaging with food in new ways.
Presently, I am launching my own refrigerated Asian food line with a partner called Happa Kitchen. My products are inspired by my experiences raising a family and sharing culture with them through food. Caregiving and starting a business is not easy – throw in a pandemic! After years of collaborating with creators who have lived their dreams or supported mine, I am excited to share this new part of my food journey.
Being part of a diverse table comes in many forms. I am proud to serve on the Pret US Foundation, President’s Council for Cornell Women, Cornell University Council, and Communications Chair of Cornell Mosaic (DEI), as well as past president of Cornell Hotel Society NYC, P.S.166 PTA, and Cornell Asian Alumni Association.