Drew McCormick Takes Helm of Pizzeria Paradiso Program 

by AJ Dronkers

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

While women make up the majority of food-service and hospital jobs, they are under represented in leadership roles. In fact, in the food service industry, women only comprise 44% of management roles and only 4% of top-level executive positions, even though they represent the vast majority of employees. 

A recent Johnson & Wales research study found that the barriers for women in the hospitality industry include: 

  • Work and family scheduling conflicts
  • Equality of opportunities
  • Lack of family support
  • Gender discrimination

With that in mind we decided to shed light on kick ass women taking the helm of the DC hospitality scene. Pizzeria Paradiso seemed like a natural place to start where owner Chef Ruth Gresser, a kick ass woman herself, recently promoted the first woman to serve as Executive Beverage Director in it's 25 year history. 

Meet Drew McCormick -- who started as a server at Pizzeria Paradiso and really started to discover her passion during their monthly beer classes and tastings. We sat down with her at the Georgetown location:

EDC: How do you go about suggesting beer pairings? 

Drew: I like to pair based on the cheese – something fatty does well with sour beers. But we also need to understand peoples taste buds – I love hoppy beers with spicy food but other people think it accentuates the hot and prefer something to cool their palate like a pilsner. 

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

Pizzeria Paradiso Executive Beverage Director Drew McCormick (Photo by David Santori)

EDC: What are some of your favorite female influenced local beers?

Drew: Denizens is women owned and run brewery just over in Maryland -- we are always excited to carry their products (and collaborate with them). I also really admire Lauren Salazar from New Belgium. She's the cellar master for New Belgium and I've always been infatuated with the way she views barrels as her children. 

The other local beverage industry company that I really admire is Republic Restoratives. The two women who own it are not only making delicious liquids but they're making a name for themselves as a female-owned, progressive company in DC.  

There are two other women in the DC beer scene that are not producers but are worth mentioning. Kathy Rizzo who runs the DC Brewers' Guild does amazing work. Kathy works really hard and genuinely cares about the state of the DC beer community. Kim Bender is the Executive Director of the Heurich Museum and has a wealth of historical DC beer knowledge and is another caring member of the DC beer community. 

I do indeed look up to all of these women, see them as leaders in the industry, and couldn't be happier to be joining their ranks.

EDC: Any others outside the region?

Drew: Graft is a new cidery out of New York that is doing some amazing stuff with wild fermentation. The two owners are a brother and sister duo. Sara, the sister, is enthusiastic and can talk about the science behind their delicious liquids while still being able to connect and talk about her product on every level. Their cider is amazing, their can and bottle artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and the brother and sister team at the helm is young, accessible, and incredibly hardworking. 

EDC: What goes into a beer collaboration, like your Right Proper Maslow?

Drew: We usually meet them at some point and decide mutually on a fun direction to take. It has to work into their brewing schedule. For the Right Proper Maslow project – we decided we wanted a really good house beer that would pair with our rustic crust. The inspiration was “de la senne” zesty Belgian beers. Then we let the experts, Thor and Nathan, from Right Proper lead the way. 

Keep an eye our for our continued series shedding light on women and immigrants in the local hospitality scene. #resist

AJ Dronkers is the Associate Publisher & Digital Editor for EdibleDC Magazine @aj_dc