woman holding platter large

Creativity and entrepreneurial savvy make culinary magic

By Pamela Edward

Creativity and entrepreneurial savvy make culinary magic

By Pamela Edward
With the strong foundation she acquired at Miami Herbert Business School, Lisa Weintraub, B.B.A. ’13 - Chef Lisa to her clients and fans - has built a thriving business delivering customized, in-home gourmet dining experiences that feature global flavors and sustainable ingredients.

Ever since Lisa Weintraub was in sixth grade, she has wanted to run her own restaurant. A native southern Californian, Weintraub—or Chef Lisa, as she is known to her clients and fans—grew up immersed in the farmers’ markets and cuisines of greater Los Angeles. As she worked to realize her dream, she persevered in the face of daunting odds and endless challenges and learned the value of adaptability in driving innovation.

“At one point, someone told me ‘No,’” Weintraub said, recalling her early startup efforts. “I’m grateful for that ‘no’ because I turned that into a ‘yes’ and instead of [opening] a restaurant, I created a new way of dining.”

This reinvention of her childhood dream is Plates by Lisa, a curated food experience that offers customers customized, in-home gourmet dining. Weintraub uses locally sourced organic ingredients and draws on the global culinary influences she has absorbed, both in her hometown and her travels, to develop personalized menus for a clientele that includes professional athletes and celebrities.

Tablescape by Chef Lisa

In January 2022, Plates by Lisa was showcased in Cooking with a ’Cane, an interactive virtual event presented by the University of Miami Alumni Association and hosted by the Los Angeles ’Canes Community. A nationwide audience of more than 200 alumni got a glimpse into Weintraub’s kitchen, enjoyed a dynamic culinary demonstration featuring Hawaiian salmon with mango salsa, and picked up some of Chef Lisa’s secrets for raising their dinner party game with dazzling tablescapes.

Guests had the opportunity to ask Weintraub questions about recipes, participate in audience polls, and share photos on Instagram for the chance to win a Plates by Lisa farmer’s market and cooking experience. And a dash of green and orange glitter gave her luxurious creations a special Hurricane touch.

This last flourish is fitting, as Weintraub credits her undergraduate education at the U for giving her the strong entrepreneurial foundation to succeed “beyond my wildest dreams.” 

“Studying entrepreneurship at the University of Miami created the well-rounded businesswoman that I am today,” she said. “My education allowed me to excel, and to navigate my business through any hardship or conflict that may come. The tools I [acquired] at the U prepared me to handle the many unknowns of owning a business. As an entrepreneur, I see the possibilities of concepts. I don’t see risk with fear; I see risk as an avenue to make something happen.”

Looking back at her time in Coral Gables, Weintraub marvels at Miami’s melting pot of cultural influences and at the diversity she discovered on campus. “Sophomore year, I lived on a floor with the study abroad kids,” she said, referring to students from around the world who spent time at the University. “It opened my eyes and exposed me to new people, new places, and new things. This is what a college experience should be!”

Weintraub herself spent a summer in Milan, an experience that she says further fueled her desire to travel and explore new cultures. “This exposure was impactful not just in my career [as a chef], but in learning the importance of diversity and integrating that into my soul and how I walk through the world.”

After graduation, she spent two months backpacking through Europe, and she urges today’s students to travel and experience the world before joining the workforce, if at all possible. “College prepares you for your profession and the real world, but I think there is so much more to explore outside the classroom. You don’t have to take the conventional route.”

Once she began her entrepreneurial journey in earnest, Weintraub put all her time and abundant energy into building her business.  To this day, she is amazed at what she has achieved. “So many doors have opened for me. Some days I pause, take a moment, and say to myself, ‘wow, you did this!’”

’Cane Biz

Plates by Lisa is one of more than 800 businesses around the country owned and operated by University of Miami alumni. Check out the ’Cane Biz directory to find ’Cane-owned businesses and alumni discounts near you. If you want to list your business in the directory, click here to tell us all about it.