It’s no secret that I love dining. But what I love more than dining is meeting the incredible people who are behind the scenes. I had a chance to chat with Anny Deirmenjian Deese, Director of Public Relations and Marketing of Davio’s Restaurants. I met this amazing woman a few years ago, and her positive energy and professionalism were contagious. I recently had a chat with Anny regarding how she got started and the current state of dining and restaurants.
1. What was your journey like, to get to where you are today?
I was exposed to art at a very young age, through my grandfather, who was an oil painter. I remember painting ‘still lifes’ as a young child, just loving to paint with different mediums such as watercolor and acrylic paint.
When I was in high school, we took a trip to Paris, France — myself along with my classmates in my AP art class. After that experience, I knew that I wanted to do something with visual arts. I attended Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for graphic design; and minored in art history. I started college when 9/11 took place; and, then, when I graduated, the recession had started. So it was quite difficult to find a job. I took every opportunity that I could, and eventually landed an internship at a magazine, in Boston. The art director left shortly thereafter, and I was quickly promoted. The experience at the magazine was amazing, but I knew I wanted to do more. And when I had an opportunity to work for an integrated PR and marketing agency, I jumped at the chance. Image Unlimited Communications and my mentor, JP Faiella, provided me with the foundation of public relations and marketing skills that I will forever be grateful for. It was really hard work building the business at IUC, but I learned so much, and I was able to apply my visual art skills towards my new position. After about five years at the agency, I moved to Philadelphia to be with my husband. I took a job, in-house, with Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse as their Director of PR and Marketing, as they expanded their locations.
2. What career advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?
I would say: Look for opportunities; and offer to help people so that you can get your foot in the door.
3. What areas of PR, or communications, do you see growing or being most important in the future?
I see digital and social media becoming vital for brands and their online presence.
4. What is the most rewarding and challenging part of your career?
The most rewarding part is seeing the fruits of your hard work, whether it’s helping someone’s business, designing a great visual, like, an AD or marketing piece, or securing a coveted press hit. The most challenging is trying to balance work and home life; and trying to be present with your kids when you are constantly thinking about work.
5. What three tips would you give food bloggers and influencers wanting to collaborate with restaurants?
I love influencers who appreciate the collaboration and understand the goal and/or outcome, and it has to be beneficial for both parties. The ones that stand out are the ones who take their time, do their research, and are timely in their efforts. All of that is very much appreciated.
6. Right now, it’s uncharted territory for a lot of culinary professionals. How are you staying positive?
I like to believe that there is always a silver lining. It’s during challenging times when the best things can happen.
7. How can we support our restaurants right now?
Order takeout, if you can, at least once a week. If you can support your local restaurants during this difficult time, you would be doing such a great thing. You can always reheat the food in the oven, as a safety precaution. Also, you can purchase a gift card now, to use on a future date, to celebrate, when this is all over!
8. What is the future of dining, in your opinion?
Humans are creatures of habit. When everything is stabilized, we will quickly return to dining out, but it will be a very different experience. Virtual dining is also something I think will take off. A restaurant in Philadelphia (Apricot Stone) has started doing it as a way of reconnecting with their guests.
9. What moment has shaped you into the woman that you are today?
Before I became a mother, one of my best friends who really made an impact in my life became very sick and passed away from cancer. She had a wonderful passion for life. Her laugh was contagious. She was just an incredible person, and everyone who knew her, loved her. It was a defining moment because, in that sadness of losing her, I realized that we are all here on earth for such a short time, and we need to make the most of it.
10. What is your favorite quote and why?
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable,” -Coco Chanel. I interpret this quote as: Success often comes to those who reach for the stars and don’t even consider that they might not get there. You always have to have faith in a higher power and believe that anything is possible. It’s about motivating yourself and pushing out the fear and self-doubt.
11. What would be your last meal?
Gnocchi with mushrooms and truffle oil, of course!