Charles LaMonica ’79, EVP, Restaurant Associates
It was while studying in the CIA’s library that Charles LaMonica ’79 first began to recognize that Sally Lewis ’79 was his soul mate. And while he won’t divulge exactly what he said standing there among the books that caught her attention and won her heart, he will reveal that Sally has been the partner of a lifetime—in and out of the kitchen.
After graduating and getting married, the two headed to Paris to build on their foundation of skills. But the economy in Europe in the early 80s made it hard for U.S. Citizens to get jobs. Luckily they happened on a pamphlet entitled 36 Best Hotels in Switzerland. Their buckshot approach to getting jobs meant sending résumés to them all. Luckily, one offered them positions—the Park Hotel Vitznau on Lake Lucerne. They were both hired as commis de cuisine, but upon arrival Charles was immediately moved to the pastry kitchen. Apparently, his two years of experience as part-time pastry chef in Fishkill, NY while studying at the CIA was enough to jettison him into the role of chef pâtissier. Sally worked as originally planned, as commis. He and Sally considered that hotel experience a benchmark for excellence, and likened the hotel’s commitment to quality as comparable to the one they’d experienced at the CIA.
When they returned to the states they took positions at The Breakers in Palm Beach, FL. What followed involved the challenge of opening restaurants in Connecticut and Princeton, NJ that each garnered two stars from The New York Times. In 1986, Charles took a position with Restaurant Associates (RA) as director of front of the house at Prospect House at Princeton University. It was like coming full circle, as he and Sally had been married there. In 1991 he began an eight year tenure as Vice President of Operations. In his current role since 1998, he is charged with overseeing all of Restaurant Associates’ prestigious Corporate and Educational Dining business comprising 50 contracts and 74 locations. These include Sony Music Entertainment, Harvard Business School and the widely celebrated foodservice operations for Condé Nast, Alliance Capital, Time Warner and Hearst Communications.