When it comes to women running the house, Champagne is a good example of many success stories. Widows have assumed the head of the Champagne house for a number of well-known brands to steer their success: Barbe- Nicole Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot/1805), Louise Pommery (Pommery/1858), Mathilde Emilie Laurent-Perrier (Laurent-Perrier/1887). Camille Olry-Roederer (Roederer1932), Lily Bollinger (Bollinger/1941).
Women still run the house at a number of top Champagne labels. We visit with Michelle DeFeo, president of Champagne Laurent-Perrier USA, to discuss her approach to growing the U.S. business.
Michelle follows in the footsteps of some very successful women at the helm of this historic brand which was founded in 1812 by André Michel Pierlot. The name “Laurent-Perrier” was established when Mathilde Emilie Perrier, the widow of Eugène Laurent, combined the two family names after she decided to expand the business. Eugénie Hortense Laurent, her daughter, inherited the House in 1925 and sold it to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt in 1939. During WWII, Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt ran the business while two of her sons, Maurice and Bernard, joined the French Resistance. Today, third generation sisters Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt and Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt are now at the helm of Champagne Laurent-Perrier.
A native of New Jersey, Michelle is a long-time Francophile, having studied in France’s Loire Valley, where she first experienced fine wine. After a short stint in international banking, Michelle decided follow her passion and launched her career in the wine industry. In 1995 Michelle joined a leading U.S. wine and spirits importer, and subsequently held sales and consulting positions for a California distributor, several wine and spirits marketing firms, and Laurent-Perrier, when the U.S. subsidiary was established. Prior to stepping into her new role at Laurent-Perrier, Michelle was Vice President of the Champagne, wine and vodka portfolio for Rémy Cointreau USA, where she managed seven national brands.
With more than a decade of experience working with Champagne brands, Michelle is considered a specialist in the category and is frequently invited to lecture on wine and spirits marketing at leading universities. In her free time, Michelle loves to travel and always looks forward to raising a glass of her favorite Champagne with friends and colleagues.
Since the beginning of his celebrated career, master Chef, hospitality entrepreneur and hotelier Charlie Palmer has received critical acclaim for his signature Progressive American cooking, a style built on rambunctious flavors and unexpected combinations with a deep and lasting infusion of classical French cuisine. In 1988, he opened critically acclaimed Aureole, originally situated in a historic Manhattan townhouse now in a spectacular new location in the heart of NYC’s theater district.
Over the years, Palmer combined his creative cooking spirit and flair for business to open dozens of notable restaurants, award-winning boutique hotels and a growing collection of food-forward wine shops throughout the U.S. These include: Michelin-starred Aureole and its less formal counterpart, Liberty Room at Aureole, Charlie Palmer Steak, Washington, D.C.; Aureole at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, and Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons, Las Vegas, NV; Charlie Palmer Steak and Briscola in Reno, NV; Dry Creek Kitchen at his boutique Hotel Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA, as well as Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, CA, which houses Palmer’s Next Vintage wine shop and his first quick and casual burger restaurant, DG Burger (Damn Good). Palmer also jointly owns two hotels in the Bay Area with his Palmer City-Core partners, Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer (San Francisco), CA and Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer (St. Helena, CA).
In 2014 he opened Crimson & Rye, a craft cocktail bar, and Charlie Palmer Steak, both in midtown Manhattan and Upper Story by Charlie Palmer, a new events space on the East Side. His latest project is overseeing all food and beverage operations for NYC’s Knickerbocker Hotel including Jake’s @ The Knick, Charlie Palmer at The Knick and St. Cloud, a 7500 square foot indoor / outdoor bar and lounge.
A member of James Beard “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,” inducted into the casino community’s Gaming Hall of Fame in 2011 and named Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Culinary Institute of America in 2012, Palmer is a 20-year board member of Citymeals-on-Wheels and longtime supporter of Share our Strength.
He is author of five cookbooks, Great American Food (Random House/1996), Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking (Harper Collins/2001), The Art of Aureole, (Ten Speed Press/2002), Charlie Palmer’s Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen (Melcher Media/2006), and Remington Camp Cooking by Charlie Palmer (Charlie Palmer Group/2013).
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