Claire Menck is an international award-winning educator, chef, and business leader with a demonstrated history of leading key growth initiatives in the hospitality, logistics, and education industries. Claire has managed complex program portfolios valued at approximately $1 billion. She is known as an expert in developing strategic programs and solutions that show improvements in defined key performance indicators. She is also experienced in delivering training and development strategies that increase participant engagement and drive business growth in a fast-paced environment. Driven, committed, and hands-on with a proven progressive career reflecting strong leadership skills, Dr. Menck builds and leads motivated teams in high-stress environments. Highly praised for her work ethic, problem-solving and communication skills, and successful delivery of work, she brings over 35 years of strategic management to her clients.
Claire began her career at the ripe age of fourteen in the dish pit of a small café in her hometown of Barrington, Illinois. While attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she worked in various restaurants and bars, including a stint at the Ovens of Brittany. Those experiences built a sense of community for her while in school and formed her later decision to forgo law school and attend New England Culinary Institute. That decision ultimately led to a career in the food service industry that has spanned three decades and has included work in the back, front, and top of the house in a myriad of operations from hotels and cruise ships to free-standing, fine dining restaurants. In 2000 she started the business she runs today, Girlchef (also known as Cream City Consulting).
Claire has been recognized for her work in the food service industry through awards and accolades from the International Hotel and Restaurant Association, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, the International Food Service Editorial Council, and the James Beard Foundation, as well as a host of other professional associations.
Her passion for food ultimately led her down an academic path as a student and teacher. She helped to develop the curriculum for the Bachelor of Arts programs at New England Culinary Institute. She was the founding Academic Director for Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Wisconsin. She has also taught online for National University, Keller Graduate School, and DeVryUniversity for the past ten years.
Claire’s real passion lies in understanding how the food system operates. Her research in food systems focuses on leadership and change, specifically, how communities use food to establish and maintain meaning and cohesion during a critical transition. Dr. Menck's doctoral dissertation, Recipes of Resolve: Food & Meaning in Post-Diluvian New Orleans, focuses on the role food played in recovery following the twin crises of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the subsequent BP Oil Spill of 2010.
The dissertation won the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations Innovative Dissertation Award for 2011. It was nominated for the Samuel Prince Dissertation Award (2011) and the Alvin H. Chapman Jr. Outstanding Dissertation Award (2013). She has presented this work at a variety of conferences, as well as published multiple articles and chapters on these topics. While in New Orleans, she also worked on the documentary 'No One Ever Went Hungry,' which was honored as the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts 2012 Documentary of the Year.
Claire has also worked as a Senior Program Manager at Amazon. While at Amazon, she was responsible for a portfolio valued at approximately 1 billion dollars. Her focus was logistics (last mile) and automation.
Claire resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a competitive powerlifter and holds several state lifting records. She enjoys ambling along with her four-legged "daughter" Ella (an Australian cattle dog). She’s also been known to haunt the used bookstores, museums, cafes, restaurants, and bars in whatever locale her travels take her.