Donna Dooher, Chair of the Board, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association 2012-2013


Donna Dooher, the executive chef and co-owner of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Toronto, was elected Chair of the Board of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) at the association’s Annual Meeting on March 5, 2012.

Donna is a recognized leader in Canada’s restaurant community.  She is a celebrated chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, teacher and TV personality with a passion for bringing people to the table.  Her first restaurant, Mildred Pierce, established brunch as a culinary trend in Toronto.  Her newest venture, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, reflects a commitment to using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, simply and sumptuously prepared. 

Like many in the restaurant industry, Donna’s career began as a student, when a part-time job at a restaurant convinced her to change her career path from engineering to hospitality.  She graduated from the Culinary Arts program at Algonquin College and embarked on a career as an apprentice chef, gaining experience in the kitchens of the Ritz in Ottawa and the Parrot in Toronto. 

Donna started her first business, Avant-Goût catering, in 1986, and opened Mildred Pierce Restaurant with her husband and business partner Kevin Gallagher in 1990.  In 1998 she founded The Cookworks Cooking Studio for hands-on cooking events and team building.  Her hit Food Network show The Cookworks grew out of this initiative and now airs in more than 60 countries. Donna served as Food Editor for WISH magazine, and is the author of two acclaimed cookbooks:  Market to Table and Out to Brunch with Mildred Pierce, the winner of Cuisine Canada’s cookbook of the year.  She and Kevin opened Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, a 120-seat restaurant with 40 employees, in Toronto’s Liberty Village neighbourhood in 2010.

A strong believer in giving back to her community, Donna volunteers for dozens of charitable causes every year, ranging from FoodShare’s Recipe for Change, to Porridge for Parkinson’s, to the Kitchen Sisters benefit for at-risk women.  In addition, she recently co-chaired a
$20-million building campaign at George Brown College and volunteered as a restaurant business consultant on a month-long project in Colombia. 

Donna has played a role in the federal government’s Canada Brand promotions, showcasing Canadian food and agricultural products at the Vancouver Olympics and in Osaka, Japan.  In 2011 Donna received an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Business Degree in Hospitality Operations Management from George Brown College.

Since joining CRFA’s Board of Directors in 2006, Donna has served as chair of the Member Products and Government Affairs Committees and as a member of the Executive Committee.  She also chaired the Restaurant Caucus, made up of federal Members of Parliament with an interest in restaurant industry issues. 

As CRFA Chair, Donna leads a 30,000-member business association representing the $63-billion restaurant industry – one of Canada’s largest employers with more than 1.1 million employees across the country.

March 5, 2012