Key Ingredients

Our Executive Team

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Food for Thought features a first class staff working together to provide clients with a quality event, no matter what size. We all strive to exceed your expectations each and every time we serve you.

Our perfectly-seasoned staff is expert at customizing your menu to your specifications for your special event. We’ll work within your budget to create a delicious menu and plan every detail, including connecting you with qualified, reputable event partners for flowers, valet services, photography, music and more. Our kitchen and service staff round out the flavor, promising to make your event the smart, tasteful affair you desire.

 
 
 

 
 
 
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Bonnie J. Matthew

Owner

Bonnie is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State. She achieved a bachelor of Business in Restaurant and Hospitality Management. Her culinary career began with Stouffer Restaurants, a subsidiary of Nestle. While at Stouffers in the eighties, she dreamed of a business where she could channel the hard working demands of the restaurant industry into something that would afford her a more balanced life. Food For Thought was born.

Bonnie is a founding member and active participant in the Women’s Presidents Organization (WPO). She is also a Trustee of the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) where she sits on the executive committee and is involved in a variety of committees. She is also a Trustee of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. In 2015 she has agreed to serve on the board of the NEO tennis association giving back to the sport that is near and dear to her heart, she currently sits on the management committee serving as secretary for the organization.

Bonnie is a 30 year resident of Northeast Ohio and lives in Auburn Township. She is is a big fan of Cleveland, having moved all her life, she appreciates all the city and surrounding area has to offer.  She is an accomplished tennis and paddle player. Her athletic talent, coupled with her business acumen, has proved to be an excellent vehicle for growth. As Food for Thought has matured, much of Ms. Matthew’s attention is focused on keeping the company’s culinary drive alive while pioneering smart, healthy food choices as well as green initiatives within the industry. She enjoys being involved in the Cleveland community and networking, making sure people know all about Food for Thought.

 
 

 
 

Robert J. Hufgard

Owner

Prior to becoming a partner in Food for Thought, Bob honed his business, hospitality and restaurant skills while starting three separate companies. In his early 20’s Bob was a key player in the development and launch of a highly successful white-tablecloth restaurant.

Following that adventure he and a high school friend started what quickly became one of northeast Ohio’s largest wine retailers. That venture was soon expanded into a before-its-time specialty and prepared food store. After selling the businesses, Mr. Hufgard returned to Cleveland State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Business.

Having met Bonnie years earlier at Stouffer Restaurants, they re-connected in 1995 as Food for Thought developed. The two quickly joined forces. Together they have guided Food for Thought through three major facility expansions and grown from two employees to almost 100.

Many of Bob’s Food for Thought responsibilities involve day-to-day operations and general business matters. Bob was born and raised in Mentor, Ohio and now resides in Kirtland Hills along with his wife of 20 years and their three children.

 
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Brenda Hanna

Office Manager

It’s not uncommon that on a typical day our Office Manager, Brenda Hanna, comes in contact with more customers than anyone else in our company. We are delighted when this happens because your complete satisfaction is our primary goal and we know that, when you’re with Brenda, you’re in two of the best hands in the business.

Brenda recently celebrated her 16th anniversary with Food for Thought. Prior to her coming to Food for Thought, she honed her relationship skills as a business owner in the collectible art industry. She owned galleries in several locations, including downtown Cleveland.

Competently managing a busy and talented office staff, Brenda’s team successfully processes hundreds of orders every day. And hundreds of positive experiences.

Brenda’s guaranteed commitment to you:

  • In every conversation you’ll hear a reassuring smile

  • Focused attention to your specific requests

  • You’ll feel like the most important customer of her day.

 
 

 
 

Daina Butkus

Director of Special Events

I am living the dream that my parents came to America to live- a first generation Lithuanian-American, I was raised on Cleveland’s east side with my large family and huge extended family. Growing up, I never knew that you could even have a celebration with less than 100 people attending- event planning was a naturally learned part of any get together!

After graduating from The Ohio State University and with over a decade of running bars and taverns under my belt, I made a change to special events and community outreach in our large North East Ohio Health system and now have returned to my hospitality roots. What might be a struggle for someone else is a natural part of how I was raised- so I hope that we can work together on your special event!

I currently live in Geauga County with my husband and 9 children. I enjoy gardening, outdoor activities, traveling, hunting and thumb wrestling. My first name means “Song” in Lithuanian. It is most closely pronounced as “Dinah” in English.

And by the way, my 9 “children” are ducks!

 
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Jim Polsak

Manager of Corporate Accounts

Since joining the Food For Thought management team in 2004 Jim has been a powerful, influence and solid contributor to the development and growth of the company. As Manager of Corporate Accounts, Jim brings more than 30 years of sales relationship experience to a broad scope of knowledgeable customers located in the corporate community of northeast Ohio and beyond.

As a lifelong Clevelander and former executive in this marketplace, Jim understands the importance of food for any corporate occasion. He also knows how important it is to the people responsible for placing the orders to have the right food set up and ready at the right time. A daily commitment to his vast customer base has always been the foundation for his unwavering guarantee, “We are here to serve you and make you look good.”

Jim earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Restaurant Management/Food Services from The Ohio State University. He has employed his expertise to combine Food for Thought’s quality of food with complete client satisfaction to produce many mutually beneficial and long-established relationships. If you are not already a customer, Jim hopes you will become one in the very near future. If you are a Food for Thought customer, Jim appreciates your loyalty to our food and he will continue to serve you in any way that he can.

 
 

 
 
 

Leslie Lee

Routing Manager / Logistics Coordinator

Many of you may already be familiar with Leslie from our customer service department, a delivery or a staffed event. Leslie has been a part of the Food for Thought Family for over 10 years. In 2017 she joined our management team as our Logistics Coordinator.

When she is not at Food for Thought, Leslie enjoys spending time with her friends and family, especially her three daughters.

 
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Nick Rutti

Executive Chef

A long-time Lake County resident, Nick graduated with honors from Thomas W. Harvey High and studied business at Lakeland Community College.  He joined the Food for Thought team in 2016 with twenty years in the culinary field. His prior experience ranges from casual to fine dining, small parties to large weddings and banquets; including chef positions held at Quail Hollow Resort and Willoughby Brewing Company.

World renowned chef and food writer Auguste Escoffier once wrote that ‘Good food is the basis of true happiness’, something Nick has kept in mind with everything he creates.

When not in the kitchen he enjoys being outdoors, exercising, and spending time with his family.

 

 

Samuel Yakimow

Sous Chef

Sam started his culinary career at the age of 15 working at McDonald’s and going to Polaris Career Center for the chef training program. He quickly realized this is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He has lived on the west side of Cleveland all of his life and has worked in some of the best Cleveland restaurants like Driftwood Restaurants & Catering, Flour Rustic Italian and Spice Kitchen & Bar. Sam never went to Culinary school but has 13+ years of fine dining, quick service and catering under his belt.

Anthony Bourdain once said “Food is the best way to bring people together”. Sam tries to live his life by that motto.

In his free time he likes to spend time with his girlfriend, going on bike rides and playing the occasional video game.

“Food for Thought is the next step in my Culinary Career. I’m glad to be part of an amazing team and I can’t wait to see it get even bigger.”

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Nicole Bakker

Sales & Marketing

Nicole joins the Food for Thought Family after years of Corporate event planning with Driftwood Catering.  She made the move to Sales and Marketing to ensure that work and family had a wonderful balance. Nicole has been in the service industry most of her career and loves every aspect of this fast- paced field. You will most likely find her out of the office and spreading the word about all of the amazing creativity happening here at Food for Thought.

Nicole is a native of the Cleveland area.  Her childhood home was the office of her father’s food brokerage firm.  She spent her summers as a small child answering phones and touring warehouses with her Dad.

In her free time, Nicole loves to spend time at the beach with her two girls.

 
 

 
 

Paula Bauer

Accounting Administrator

It’s been over 19 years since Paula has joined the Food for Thought team. She started as an event server, and after a year or so, was asked to take on the role of office manager. As the Food for Thought organization grew her duties in the office multiplied and she eventually took on new roles. Her duties include Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable, web design and upkeep, computer technology consultant, assistant to the HR department and customer service representative.

Food for Thought has experienced many changes through the years and she has adapted to those changes. From creating a monthly feature sheet, to making calls, to troubleshooting computer problems, she can help with all aspects of these tasks.

 
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I had the opportunity to meet and speak with managers, customer service representatives, and a variety of your staff. The highlight of my evening was that each of your staff was welcoming, professional, pleasant, and truly loved their work. And obviously they take great pride in the company they work for and are proud of their product and presentation. An organization that has such dedicated and professional employees must truly be its greatest asset. You should be congratulated on yours.
— Jim, CLE Yacht Charters
 
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