Meet Your Air Culinaire Worldwide Management Team

Air Culinaire Worldwide’s leadership mixes the perfect blend of food and aviation expertise. Outgoing and loyal, most of them have been with us for 11-14 years. Their creativity, dedication and teamwork have resulted in our services being available at hundreds of airports worldwide, making us a leader in the in-flight catering industry.

Cliff Smith – CEO

Cliff’s experience managing large corporations has contributed innumerably to the success of Air Culinaire Worldwide. With significant experience in food operations, Cliff’s role as Chief Executive Officer is to implement strategies that maintain our highly respected brand in catering, establish channels that provide clients with unparalleled service and create collaborative work environments for all personnel.

Paul Schweitzer – Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing

Paul founded our company back in 2000 and his main responsibilities lie in growth and development of the business, including branding, sales, client services, international expansion and cultivating innovative products and services. He is also a licensed pilot with 23 years of aviation experience.

Steven Roberts – Senior Vice President of Global Operations

Steven Roberts, who holds a degree in business with supplemental food science education, was professionally trained in the culinary arts through apprenticeships with Master Chefs Hartmut Handke (captain of the American Culinary Olympic team) and Victor Espinchan of the Watergate Hotel and Army-Navy Country Club. His culinary training was followed by several appointments with high-profile restaurants and resorts, including the four-star Greenbrier Hotel and the world-class Carambola Resort. He then served as Corporate Executive Chef for six years for Capital Restaurant Concepts, the top restaurant innovation group in Washington, D.C.

Steven has served as Vice President of Culinary Arts & Food Service Operations for Balducci’s of New York and provided leadership for the specialty retail group, as well as five food production facilities, a USDA facility and the restaurant division of the company. In 2004, Steven launched Nouveau Enterprises, consulting with restaurants, specialty food markets and manufacturers. Steven’s background includes merits such as an award-winning chef, operations specialist, new concept creator and supply chain specialist. With his vast culinary and management qualifications and expertise, Steven was brought on as our SVP of Global Operations during 2015.

Deena Barcus – Vice President of Finance

Deena is a CPA that also holds a Master of Business degree from Franklin University along with a Bachelor of Science from The Ohio State University. Diligent and hard-working, she started with us in the Assistant Controller role, moved into the Controller position in August 2008, and then promoted to her current position of Vice President of Finance in January 2010. Deena is instrumental in organizational improvements and guaranteeing company vision as well as strategic plans and long term goals. Deena’s efficiency and reliability has helped her to continuously succeed

Roger Leemann – Vice President of Culinary Procurement, Systems and Data Management

Chef Leemann’s passion for food started in his Swiss grandmother’s kitchen and lead to the New England Culinary Institute, The Four Seasons and Sky Chefs, before joining Air Culinaire Worldwide shortly after its inception. He leads culinary procurement, systems and data management and new menu creation for our clients and our company.

Saverio Mongelli – Vice President of Guest Services & Global Network

A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Chef Saverio has 16 years of in-flight catering experience and 8 years in kitchen operations. Saverio opened and ran the Air Culinaire Worldwide New Jersey/New York kitchen. He brings a culinary and operational background to the Network Team and Vendors. Saverio’s responsibilities include national sales, client management, contract negotiations, and the management and development of the sales team, Large Cabin and now the ACW Network.

Ed Nicholson – Vice President of Technology

Ed Nicholson is a versatile technology leader and business solution innovator with over 20 years of IT experience. His diverse background includes energy, finance, telecom, travel, credit card and media. Ed is a Certified Scrum Master and is a Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland) honors graduate.

Monalisa Shaheen-Jones – Vice President of Global Sales

With over 29 years of experience in the business aviation industry, Monalisa Shaheen has established herself as a respected industry expert and continues to deliver impeccable customer service. Monalisa has received global recognition among business aviation leaders, and her drive has pushed her to succeed in a variety of positions within the field.

As a graduate of Kent State University, Monalisa continues to use her degree in Education to benefit others. With her knowledge and empowerment, she continues to grow by participating in groups, such as the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee and Women in Corporate Aviation. She was also the the catering chair for 10 years on the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee. Monalisa has also participated as a speaker at several NBAA and Sales and Dispatchers conferences. Monalisa spoke on topics such as food safety and catering trends. She has native proficiency in Arabic and English, which helps her provide top-notch service to clients worldwide. Monalisa’s ambition and ability to adapt continues to serve her.

Anthony Frechette – Eastern Regional Director of Kitchen Operations

Chef Frechette has 17 years of experience in fine dining and scratch-style cooking. He spent 12 years as an executive chef and as a food and beverage director with Hilton, and the previous six years as General Manager of our Boston kitchen. Tony now oversees our United States East Coast kitchens as Regional Director.

A couple of his culinary accolades include a People’s Choice Award winner at “The Great Taste of Maine” event at the Governor’s mansion, for his Seafood Crepe with Lemon Goat Cheese Whip Cream. Anthony also received the People’s Choice Award for best specialty chocolate dessert in “The Annual Chocolate Lovers Fling” for his Chocolate Cordial served in a chocolate martini glass.

Richard Peterson – Central Regional Director of Kitchen Operations

Richard began his 40 plus year culinary career the old way, from the bottom up. After several successful years in the hotel and resort industry, he joined the Culinary Research and Development Team at LSG/Sky Chefs, Inc. designing and creating an array of menu selections for first and business class passengers for major domestic and international commercial carriers. Richard continued his aviation catering career in the private sector as a founding member of Air Culinaire Worldwide concentrating on the initial domestic and international growth of the company. After several tours across the world Richard took a sabbatical in 2007 as the Executive Chef at the multi award winning restaurant, Grasing’s Coastal Cuisine in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

In 2012 he returned to Air Culinaire Worldwide and has held multiple positions in operations, sales, client relations as well as a for hire in-flight Chef and Flight Attendant.  Between 2013 and 2014 Richard was hired by an exclusive five-star tour group as the In-Flight Chef for two multiple leg 30 day expeditions around the world managing, serving and producing the catering services for the journey. Richard also was the Manager of Flight Attendant Services and was instrumental in the creation, instruction and training of domestic and international Corporate Flight Attendants in the culinary arts as well as fine dining service.  In addition to his Flight Attendant instruction duties, Richard also worked with the Air Culinaire Worldwide Special Projects Team supporting menu research and development, catering service arrangements and vendor qualifying for multi international and domestic trips. Richard now oversees our United States East Coast kitchens as Regional Director. He now runs six different kitchens in the central region including a brand new one in Scottsdale, Arizona!

Charles Charnow – West Coast Regional Director of Kitchen Operations

Charles started his 30 years of culinary experience in New York City before moving to the west coast. While in NYC he began his work as a prep cook and quickly moved into a regional trainer position. At age 23 he was promoted to general manager and realized he wanted more out of the business. Charles spent a few years as general manager and then transitioned to a Director of Operations. This opportunity helped him to better understand how airport operations and culinary operations blend. While refining his skills in operations he managed 6 restaurant concepts and joint venture partnerships. After cultivating his relationships, he moved into sales for a food distribution company for 10 years before returning to culinary operations. After his time in sales he moved out to the West Coast where he embraced the new lifestyle and the challenges it brought. This opportunity quickly moved him up the ranks from cook to general manager. As a general manager Charles lead a kitchen to great success and moved onto West Coast Regional Manager. In his time, he has successfully opened over 30 restaurants and developed over 30 managers. His experience in kitchen operations and leadership has taken him to new heights and continues to serve him as West Coast Regional Director.

Neil Pope – Director of International Business & Operations

Neil Pope brings 34 years of culinary experience to our team, with 10 years specialized in the niche of in-flight catering. Neil has previously held roles in the company, including Executive Chef and Operations Director. He simultaneously managed three kitchens throughout London and one in Paris. Neil’s ability to manage personnel as well as his dedication to the culinary arts have propelled him to new heights. His areas of expertise include development, training and kitchen management. Neil’s responsibilities include creating and maintaining client relationships as well as promoting company growth.

Amanda Thayer – Director of Accounting

Amanda joined the Air Culinaire Worldwide team March 2011 as an accounts payable clerk. Since then she has continued to increase her level of expertise and industry knowledge, resulting in her growth within our organization. She is excited to work with the accounting team in order to bring great opportunities for our customers and vendors as the industry and company continue to grow and evolve. Amanda’s efficiency and management skills are vital to the success of the team.

Anastasia Peterson – Director of Guest Services

Anastasia Peterson has succeeded 31 working years in the service industry, with 14 years spent in private aviation. Her level of professionalism stems from her dedication to the field, having held positions in nearly every department at Air Culinaire Worldwide. Anastasia is not only well-versed in catering, but also in customer service. As the current Director of Guest Services, she diligently works for the betterment of her team and of her vendors. All positions leading up to her current role have shaped Anastasia to be a great asset to our clients.