About MeMonica Gelinas
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 learning hospitality basics with a BS at the Cornell Hotel School. From there, my journey has been inspired by teachers and mentors where I have learned from some of the best visionaries in food and hospitality.
The (Good Food) Movement
Shepherding a movement from niche to mainstream has been a recurring theme throughout my career. Focused on operations and built out new 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 reimagining the landscape. After getting my MS in Global Affairs from NYU during which I worked at the Clinton Global Initiative, 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 — bringing the word food systems into fruition.
As demand for farm-to-table transparency increased, I brought strategic sourcing and supply chain values to the industry’s forefront. This led to forming my own consultancy, Grit Work, where I have guided entrepreneurs and organizations on developing products and leading sourcing strategies. I’ve stewarded foodservice and CPG concepts of all types and sizes, particularly in Fresh and Prepared (perishable), 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 people in new ways.
Happa Kitchen and Community
Right before the pandemic, I pre-sold into leading retailers my own refrigerated Asian food line with a partner called Happa Kitchen. My vision was inspired by raising a mixed family and sharing new traditions. Caregiving and starting a business is not easy – throw in a pandemic! However, the entrepreneurial spirit has always been a guiding star, but the supply chain reality emerging will define what my next steps may be.
Being part of a diverse table comes in many forms. I am proud to currently serve on the Cornell University Council, President’s Council for Cornell Women, Pret US Foundation board member, Communications Chair of Cornell Mosaic (DEIB), and Health&Wellness Chair of AAPI Montclair, NJ (Asian American Pacific Islander). Past leadership include service as presidents of Cornell Asian Alumni Association, NYC’s P.S. 166 PTA, Cornell Hotel Society NY and Meadowlands Museum.