Zelda’s Catering is a family owned and operated business, with an uncompromising culture of client satisfaction and attention to detail. We believe in clear commitments, clear expectations, and no excuses. Our commitment is to serve through excellence.
We are nationally recognized and community focused.
Excellence begins and ends with people and leadership. At Zelda’s, we are proud to have assembled an outstanding, dedicated leadership team with talent, creativity and pedigree. A team designed to deliver consistent perfection. We invite you to browse their biographies below.
Founder and President
Some people spend a lifetime chasing their passion, for others their life's passion takes a while to find them. Linda Neiman began her professional career far from the world of catering, applying her advanced degrees in computer science and education to design and code early educational computer games. In 1986 she moved from the world of high tech to a second career as a stay-at-home mom, focusing her full time and energy on raising a family of four boys. During that time Linda developed extensive self-taught culinary skills, and the seeds of a new passion steadily grew. In 2003, after a 17 year hiatus from the business world Linda chose to return with the launch of her third career, introducing the world to Zelda (her true middle name). Under Linda's dynamic leadership Zelda's Catering has exploded onto the catering scene with purpose and vision, becoming one of the Midwest's most successful, admired and fastest growing off-premise caterers.
Taylor’s passion for making events memorable is locally cultivated. She moved to Chicago after earning her undergraduate degree in hospitality from Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality Business, with a minor in Theatre Design and Technical Production. Helping clients realize their creative vision through the art of listening is Taylor's unique skill, though she is also capable of extreme multitasking as she can occasionally wield a blow torch when that might be called for. Taylor began her Chicago hospitality career working with the front-of-house team at the innovative Next Restaurant. She then managed the bustling high-end Theater District restaurant 312 Chicago for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants before joining Zelda's Catering as our Events Director in 2018.
Executive Sous Chef
Chef Charlie was born and raised in Inkster, Michigan, a few miles outside of Detroit, moving to Chicago in 2008 to pursue a career in culinary arts at The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. While attending school Charlie landed a job as a bellman with The Ritz Carlton Hotel-Chicago, eventually negotiating his way into the kitchen as a line cook. His unique talent and commitment became quickly evident, earning him promotions to Sous Chef and then Assistant Banquet Chef. After 13 years with The Ritz Carlton organization, Chef Charlie joined the Zelda’s Catering leadership team in 2021 as our Executive Sous Chef. In his free time Chef Charlie enjoys exploring Chicago and trying out its new restaurants. But first loves never die - he remains a passionate Detroit Tigers baseball fan and Detroit Pistons basketball fan.
Yaakov was born and raised in Chicago. He attended Fasman Yeshiva High School and graduated from HTC with a BA in Psychology and Judaic studies. Yaakov also holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Roosevelt University. For over two years Yaakov spent time abroad in Israel as a staff member at Eretz Hatzvi before joining the IDF where he completed his service at the rank of a sergeant as a designated marksman in the Givati Brigade. Yaakov enjoys working out, reading psychology journals and studying military history. In the small world department, Yaakov and Ben Neiman (Zelda's Director of Operations) spent six summers working together as JCC camp counselors on Chicago's North Side.
Alina is a graduate of the historic Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She brings a European touch to Zelda's from Krakow, where she worked for 12 years as general manager of a boutique hotel located in the city's famous Jewish quarter. There she had primary responsibility for event production and catering to many large international tour groups. Alina is skilled and creative in all types of food, and is especially fond of creating pastry and desserts. She spends time in Israel and Europe each year exploring culinary developments, restaurants and emerging catering trends. She has attended Chicago's renowned French Pastry School, and interned at The Standard Club.
John has been with Zelda's from the very beginning, and has grown to become an integral part of the company's operational backbone. In his spare time, John enjoys hiking and mountain biking. John met his wife in the 7th grade (although they decided to wait a while to make it official), and recently celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary!
Director of Operations
Ben began his career in food service through volunteer work at several Israeli food kitchens as he was earning his degree in Business Administration and Finance from IDC International School of Business in Herzliya, Israel. In 2013 Ben moved from Herzilya to Chicago to join a rapidly growing Zelda’s Catering as its new Director of Operations, assuming the key responsibility of ensuring seamless and efficient day-to-day operations. Ben is proud to lead Zelda’s work with the local community, including its catering partnership serving the community’s less fortunate with the JUF Uptown Café.
Kathy began her hospitality career in 1990 with Hilton Hotels & Resorts, ultimately advancing to Catering Sales Manager for leading Hilton properties including The Palmer House Hilton and Hilton Chicago. In 2001 she left the Hilton organization to join Danziger Kosher Catering as Catering Sales Manager, where over the next 14 years she developed a large and loyal following as Chicago’s premier kosher event coordinator. Her experience ranges from modestly sized private events up to 4,000 attendee conventions. Kathy enjoys spoiling her two adorable cats. She loves to bake every chance she gets, and delights in sharing the amazing harvest from her backyard vegetable garden with her many envious neighbors.
Noelle began life in the small Ohio town of Burton, where she discovered an early passion for baking and creating new things. She earned an undergraduate degree from Kent State University in Theatre Lighting and Design, then headed to Chicago in 2013 to attend The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago in Baking and Pastry. In 2021 Noelle joined Zelda’s Catering as Pastry Chef, where she enjoys bringing her creative talents to life in new and interesting ways. Noelle enjoys reading, cuddling with her cats, listening to podcasts, exploring new breweries with friends, and expanding her culinary vision by designing creative new recipes.
Neena graduated Texas A&M University at San Antonio in 2016 with a degree in Criminology, having worked her way through school as a kashrut supervisor for several catering and food manufacturing businesses, as well as interning in her field of criminology with the local police department. After graduation Neena relocated from her hometown San Antonio to Chicago where she followed her career path in the position of Security Director with Allied Universal Security Services, specializing in food related companies. In 2021 Neena made a transition to a new career in catering with Zelda’s, finding it to be her true passion. Neena lives in West Rogers Park with her husband Efrem and their two children.
Kevin is a veteran of the Chicago catering industry, with experience at many of the city's longest established firms, including Jewell Events Catering, Blue Plate and Food for Thought. He takes pride in having participated during his career in catering many of the city's most prestigious catered events, including the openings of Museum Campus and Chicago Symphony Center Orchestra Hall, Brookfield Zoo Ball and Columbia Ball. Kevin has degrees in Honors History and Political Science, as well as a JD degree from Loyola University of Chicago. In his free time, Kevin is an avid quilter, and is a past president of Illinois Quilters.
Delivering for Zelda's is just one of Bobby's many interests, which include travelling and competitive billiards and darts. Bobby comes from a large family, with five sisters and two brothers. Back in high school he played for the state champion basketball team.
Executive Chef Jon Hudak brings more than two decades of culinary leadership to Zelda's Catering. Educated at the Culinary Institute of America, he has been sought after throughout his career by the country’s most prestigious hospitality organizations, serving in leadership roles at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago and Ritz Carlton Chicago Hotel. Chef Jon has a passion for food artistry and reinventing classic favorites for today's modern palate. His mastery of a wide array of cooking styles and techniques, and command of a dedicated and talented culinary team are his personal recipe for creating consistent perfection on a plate. When Chef Jon is not at work you will find him at the local farmer’s market, or spending time with good friends enjoying a quiet glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
MERRY JEAN NANO-LEE
Merry Jean grew up on Chicago’s north side and earned her degree from Robert Morris University in Business Management. She entered the hospitality industry in 1992 with Hilton Hotels & Resorts , working at the historic Hilton Chicago and Towers as well as the Palmer House Hilton. In 2005 Merry Jean began her next journey, joining Danziger Kosher Catering, where she developed a unique expertise in off premise kosher catering. In 2021 Merry Jean joined the Zelda’s team as Catering Director. With an uncompromising attention to detail, and a true love of her art, Merry Jean thrives on turning wonderful moments into lifelong memories for every host and every guest. She is a proud mom of three beautiful children and cherishes precious family time – jetting off together whenever possible to spectacular and sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
After graduating from Yeshiva University in 2008 with a B.A. in Physics, Elliott joined Zelda's in multiple capacities, serving as bookkeeper, IT manager, and graphic designer. As Zelda's grew into the premier catering company it is today, Elliott made sure at every step of the way that our staff consistently enjoyed the technological tools necessary to deliver the company’s signature high level client service. Today, he continues to administer Zelda’s technology infrastructure and software systems, as well as manage the company's finances. When he isn't keeping his coworkers' lives interesting - by constantly updating their software and settings - Elliott enjoys raising his two adorable young children together with his wife Devorah.
Before joining Zelda’s Catering, Sean learned the ins and outs of the Chicago area on premise catering industry for more than a decade with the Hilton Orrington in Evanston and the Glen Club in Glenview, then turning his talents to the world of off premise catering with Food for Thought. In his free time Sean likes to go to the movies, cook, and spend quality time with his two cats and a dog. Sean enjoys traveling, especially his trips up to the Michigan outdoors where he relaxes while camping and fishing. Sean boasts an extensive and growing collection (verging on obsession) of barware and breweriana from around the world.
Lisa thrives on excellence, treating each client as her only client and each event as her only event. With her passion for detail, Lisa prides herself on the successful culmination of weeks of meticulous preparation on the day of the event. Lisa embraces life with a love of health and fitness - she enjoys visiting fresh food markets all over the world, and on any given day cycling Chicago's lakefront, paddleboarding, participating in HIIT class, hot yoga or SoulCycle.
Jimmy was born and raised in Skokie, and is a graduate of Evanston High School. He continues to live in nearby Evanston and has been a popular part of the local scene his entire life. Jimmy's daily routine includes sharing breakfast bagels and conversation with his friends on the Skokie Police Force at one of the local establishments. Jimmy brings more than 20 years of catering industry experience to Zelda's, and prides himself on making sure the company's fleet of delivery vehicles is kept clean at all times. Jimmy enjoys walking and spending time at the beach during the summer months.
WHO WE ARE
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