Maria Benvenuti is the woman you want on speed dial when you are opening a new restaurant, need a re-brand or are just looking for an out-of-the-box branding idea. The founder of Benvenuti Public Relations has been immersed in the culinary landscape for 30 years, working with some of the most famous restaurants and brands throughout the world. With her keen eye for new talent and trends, she continues to stand out as one of the leading restaurant publicists in New York City.
Benvenuti maintains a strong pulse on the fashion world to this day, but she actually began her career journey working as the window display director for Fiorucci at the height of its fame and at Macy’s Herald Square in the Visual Display Department under Linda Fargo, now the VP of women’s fashion for Bergdorf Goodman. From there, she went on to work as the events coordinator at the famous nightclub Area under renowned entrepreneur and hotelier Eric Goode, known for developing unparalleled properties like the Maritime Hotel, Bowery Hotel and BBar. Benvenuti became an invaluable asset when managing events for numerous celebrities, including Keith Richards, Patty Hansen, and Andy Warhol, as well as the inauguration of Strawberry Fields in Central Park with Yoko Ono and the launch of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Once she learned the ins and outs of the events world under mentor Goode, she set out on her own and started her own events company. During that time, she worked with clients such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting as well as international artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim at world-class venues including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and the Metropolitan Opera House.
Using her background in event planning and her experience working within the arts and hospitality fields coordinating press and gala dinners for New York’s elite, Benvenuti has made her mark on the public relations industry for over three decades. “I saw a niche in the market to do public relations at a time when the restaurant industry was getting into a new era,” explained Benvenuti.
When it comes to publicizing and marketing the world’s most famed restaurants and brands, Maria Benvenuti has been influential in changing the face – and taste – of the industry. She is a true pioneer of PR and is still doing what she does best: implementing creative marketing concepts and getting her clients prime placements.
Benvenuti has indeed made the New York City culinary scene much more mouthwatering and multicultural. This public relations powerhouse, who incorporates her sharp aesthetics into her campaigns, launched the Soho dining scene in the 90s with places like Felix and Boom, as well in Union Square with Republic and the Coffee Shop. She also made the Meatpacking District a mecca for trendy restaurants launching Markt, the first Belgian restaurant in NYC and one of the first in the Meatpacking District. She was instrumental in pioneering the South Beach dining scene, launching Bang, Cuban Café Manana and Pelican Hotel. She took on the West Village in mid-2000, turning it into one of the city’s most desirable dining neighborhoods with Commerce, Mole and Brunetti Pizza. She developed new dining destinations in NoMad, Flatiron and Hell’s Kitchen.
“As the dining scene continues to evolve, so does our team’s strategic methods, developing cutting-edge story ideas for social media, marketing, viral video content, traditional and digital media. The best part of my morning is meeting with my team to discuss how we can use impactful images and words to tell a story and to set trends.”
Benvenuti’s impact on the global gastronomic stage started when she became one of the first people to host international guest chef appearances and brought world-renowned chef and restauranteur Nobu and Morimoto to Rio de Janeiro to collaborate with Sushi Brazil. She also worked with Guy Martin in Paris.
This successful businesswoman certainly succeeded in conquering the culinary PR world around the globe, and her company now represents Brazil’s top chefs including Carla Pernambuco and Chef Felipe Bronze, host of Top Chef Brazil. Benvenuti Public Relations has even hosted and publicized gastronomical festivals for Brazil and Peru in New York City, and Benvenuti’s successful marketing strategies have come to Miami; Aspen, Colorado; Paris; and London.
“Our company also focuses on specialized culinary products like soft drinks, chocolate, caviar and my personal favorite: coffee,” explained Benvenuti. “In fact, we represent a 12,000-acre coffee farm in Brazil, where we host and organize an annual press trip for the coffee harvest. We also love to work with foreign companies and countries when they introduce their concepts to New York. My client ICHIRAN Ramen has 78 locations in Japan and most recently, we launched their third location in Times Square.”
This trendsetter also explained that the latest food trend taking place in New York is the inclusion of more diverse cultures and their cuisines.
“New York is already such a global city, and it’s becoming even more open to ethnic cuisines. The city is more relaxed about dining and appreciating casual fine dining, showcasing the foods of the world rather than being so regimented. We are shying away from just the high-end, untouchable establishments and are now more diverse in the way we see the world and relate to it, especially when it comes to dining,” said Maria.
Over the years, Maria has introduced the foods of the world to New York City. From Filipino, African, Korean and Hawaiian to Peruvian, Brazilian and Belgian, Maria has helped launch every kind of cuisine in addition to popularizing many new products. Benvenuti’s clients have always been independent chefs and operators with their own points-of-view. These restaurants are the ones Benvenuti believes stand out amongst the rest and make for some of the best dining options in New York City.
This powerful PR woman, who is responsible for making some of your favorite restaurants, loves Japanese food, caviar and good neighborhood spots, such as Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village. She believes that the city’s best restaurants are still helmed by the chef restaurateurs.
When she’s not running the city’s marketing campaigns, Maria, who has been living in the West Village for over two decades, loves to travel, ride her bike, walk around the city, take photos, and of course, people watch. “The city really offers such cultural diversity from the dining to the architecture to the graffiti found on the city streets. There’s a beautiful melding of art, culture and fashion with beauty at every turn. I’m constantly inspired by my city, always looking for new ways to see and interpret the world.”
From creating a unique campaign or launching a new restaurant, Maria is always one – or ten – scrumptious dining trends in front of the rest.