Fairfield County is full of trailblazing women, particularly in the culinary world. Which is why, with 2018 being proclaimed the Year of the Woman, we felt compelled to honor the pioneers among us.
Our new series, “It’s A Woman’s World’ is devoted to Fairfield County female influencers who’ve forged their own paths, often in food-related fields long dominated by men.
Whether farming the land, bringing healthy food to the masses, feeding an entrepreneurial spirit or injecting feminism with food, these groundbreaking ladies have set a new definition of women’s work, creating new paths and setting examples for those who follow.
Linda Kavanagh, President, MaxEX PR (www.maxexpr.com)
Why She’s A Pioneer: She segued from being a chef -- she was a longtime catering director for Chef Remy in NYC -- to representing chefs and helping them market their restaurants.
Kavanagh credits Gary Stromberg, the president of the Blackbird Group, a prominent PR firm whose client roster was deeply rooted in the entertainment world, to showing her the PR ropes at a time when she was feeling burnt out from her job. “I was immediately hooked as it gave me that same adrenaline rush as cooking behind a busy kitchen line did – being creative, having an end goal, and racing to the finish line,” she explains.
In 1997 she created MaxEx Public Relations with herself as the sole employee. The Barcelona group was her first gig (they were with her 12 years) – and the rest is history.
Her mission is simple: To be a support arm for an industry she holds close to her heart.
Now in business 20 years -- and with a growing staff -- she’s seen many changes along the way, chief among them the number of restaurant publicists. “There were lots in the city when I first started but not here in Fairfield/Westchester,” she says. Luckily, she says she started right when the food scene began to gain momentum and had some great teachers along the way, including chefs, writers, and restaurant owners.
On Being A Woman In A “Man’s World:” Coming from a chef’s world – “which doesn’t get any more testosterone driven" than that,” Kavanagh always dived in and did her job without much thought much to gender. “I certainly learned it’s all about collaboration,” she says. “The PR world is neutral territory and our partners and contacts seem to be primarily entrepreneurs and small businesses and creative industries.”
What’s Next: Having her team continue to tell the stories and lend support to the restaurant industry while adapting to industry changes. “So much of what we do goes beyond media placement when you’re trying to maintain a restaurant’s relevancy in an industry that’s always evolving – and to an audience that’s always changing,” she says.
She’s also excited about Norwalk Now, the collaborative marketing group she established in 2017 with the goal of promoting area businesses as a collective group, ultimately benefiting the community. Says Kavanagh: “It’s a strong working model and we have tremendous plans for it.”