Born in Oakland, California to a feisty stay-at-home mom and a devout Buddhist father, I was raised in southern New Jersey with two much older brothers. Growing up around these colorful characters shaped me early on. After studying Physiological Psychology and East Asian Studies at Smith College, learning herbal medicine in southwest China, studying Mahayana Buddhism in India, learning Mandarin and teaching English in Taiwan, 4 months of silent Vipassana meditation in Burma, completing the post-bacc pre-med program at Bryn Mawr, and years working in HIV/AIDS and clinical research, I couldn't believe my dream job was right under my nose. So much time passed trying to find my way, yet my childhood self knew all along: I love desserts and living healthy. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for understanding becoming a doctor wasn't meant to be be!
Upon adopting a vegan lifestyle in 2007, my sweet tooth went through a dry spell until my late night baking experiments hit the spot. A lightbulb went off: maybe, I have finally found a career path that would combine my desire to help people with my love for animals, food and wellness. My pursuit to help others eat better, live better grew into Pure Sweets, which had its start at the Whole Foods Summer Markets of 2009. In May of 2014, we opened at 1706 Locust Street. and became more than just desserts. It takes many more people than just me to operate what is now known as P.S. & Co.!
I fantasized about attending culinary school and was honored to be given a grant by The James Beard Foundation in 2010 to attend The Natural Gourmet Institute Chef-Certification, but decided to keep my focus on Pure Sweets. Luckily, I have had the honor of working alongside and learning from talented chefs and hospitality professionals who have taught me the ins-and-outs of the trade, while sharing a similar philosophy for nutrient-dense, organic, plant-based eating. Our collaborations have exceeded what I could have created on my own or learned in school! (Thank you to all past and current staff for teaching me along the way.)
When not meeting guests and working with the beloved team at P.S. & Co, I am forever seeking new outdoor adventures, traveling to remote places, visiting family and friends, working on new ideas, and exploring with my best friend, Tuffy and my life partner, Tommy!
CHIEF DAD OFFICER
None of this could be without a great Dad and Mom. A retired research chemical engineer and devoted father and husband, Dad came from the remote village of Tengchong in Yunnan, China. Here he is pictured with Mom for their engagement photo in Mandalay, Burma (circa 1962).
After the Japanese Invasion during WWII and the rise of Mao Zedong, Dad (age 14) rode into Mandalay on the back of a donkey to escape Communist China. Although his family had successful retail businesses, Dad's academic excellence steered him away from the family company and eventually led him to the United States to earn his doctorate at Caltech. After a long, continuous career with Exxon/Mobil, he is enjoying retirement and combining his passion for science, finance and family businesses.
Fan favorites such as Mohinga, Burmese Chickpea Curry and our famous chili sesame oil to name a few, are all thanks to Mom feeding us these comfort foods throughout childhood. Miss you, Mom! (She peacefully passed in 2011 from complications of a benign brain tumor). Mom's dreams of owning and running a restaurant live through P. S. & Co. ❤️
During those long months in the city pound, did Tuffy foresee a career waiting for her? I think so. Pictured here with my niece and nephew in 2011, this lovable mutt is Head of HR, and keeps us all on our toes!
Tuffy is the inspiration behind our Yappy Hour events. She is the best four-legged friend I could wish for - we can't believe this adventurous, obedient, and smart dog was overlooked in the city shelter for months. We think Tuffy is often misunderstood because she happens to be human on the inside and brindle on the outside!
She reminds us to support overlooked mixed-breeds and older animals find their furever homes. Every month, we fundraise for various animal rescues. Take a look at how we give back.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Salimah started working in the restaurant industry at age 16. Since then, she's worked in a variety of kitchens including, resorts, hotels, assisted living centers, country clubs, bakeries, and corporate establishments.
Salimah has always had a love for cake (especially lemon!). While working at another nearby restaurant, after work, she would frequently stop into the shop for a slice. It was Salimah's desire to match her holistic, vegan lifestyle with her professional skills that brought her to join P.S. & Co. in April of 2019.
Salimah loves the opportunity to spread healthful, gluten free, vegan, organic, and kosher food with our wonderful guests. When she's not creating beautiful new dishes for P.S. & Co., you can find her gardening and enjoying the outdoors. Salimah dreams of living on a farm one day with a menagerie of farm animals, including one of her favorites, cows!
EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF
Originally from Maryland and a long-time Philadelphia resident, Katie has been working in the restaurant industry since college, where she first worked at a pizza shop while avoiding classes. She eventually graduated to bartending, where she realized she was much better suited to work behind the scenes - in the kitchen.
Since returning to and graduating from culinary school, Katie has baked and decorated her way through many pastry kitchens in the city of Philadelphia; but is so happy to have found her way to P.S. & Co! Katie loves designing unique custom cakes, beautiful plated desserts and all of the other artistic aspects of her job. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and exploring all things outside with her family; she especially can’t wait to start traveling internationally again!
MARISA MANCINELLI & TOAST
WEDDING & CUSTOM EXPERIENCE COORDINATOR(S)
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Marisa is a proud Virgo and chocolate fanatic who has found her place at P.S. & Co. When she isn't taste testing all the goodies from the bakery, she can be found playing, walking, or traveling with her partner, Chris and her partners in crime, Toast and Jam!
Marisa started working in the restaurant industry at 16 and has been at it ever since. She came to P.S. & Co. in July of 2019 after having worked a wide range of front of house positions, including Front of House Manager and Events Planner, for Iocal brewpubs big and small. Her favorite projects to work on focus on staff training, team building, organizing, and making sure everyone at the shop is set up for success!
Toast was adopted from the PSPCA in January of 2020. At first he was shy, sick, nervous, and unsure about the world. Now, having found his furever home, he is a healthy, energetic, goofball who loves to spend time in the shop with his new found BFF Andrea.
Marisa is BACK to take care of all and any custom experiences for our wonderful guests. If you are lucky to be among her circle and Toast's pack, you have a loyal human and dog on your side- for life!
P.S. & Co.
HALL OF FAME
Growing up, Cara experienced living in a few different places, including Florida, Illinois, and California. Five years ago, she left San Diego for Philly and hasn't looked back. Philly has become her forever home.
Cara joined the P.S. & Co. team in August of 2019. She has been working in the restaurant industry since 2010 in just about every front of house position. In the fall of 2021, she began a new journey to attend the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She transitioned from FOH to join our BOH team!
Cara enjoys traveling, dining out, and staying active. She lives in South Philly with her wife, Rachel and their three cats: Oliver, Chai, and Rian.
Next up for Cara is joining other vegan restaurants in Philly to continue her culinary journey. We are so thrilled to see our favorite colleagues follow their dreams. We love you, Cara!
FRONT OF HOUSE MAVEN
Natalie's first day with us was on one of our busiest days of the year: Valentine's Day 2020. She handled the tornado of guests like a veteran. We knew if she survived the storm, the rest would be a piece of cake!
We are so grateful to Natalie for being our first COVID (and for a very long time only) front of house employee . She held down the counter as we gradually re-opened during COVID from 2020-2021. Natalie not only handled many responsibilities, but she did also so with a genuine smile and positive attitude!
Natalie has moved on to travel the world, and we are so thrilled she's living her best life. Guests miss her, and all of us at P.S. & Co. will forever miss Natalie, too!
Love you, Nat!
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