Chef | Dietitian | Restaurateur | Author
Laura Pensiero is the founder, owner, and creative force behind Gigi Hudson Valley (Gigi Trattoria and Gigi Catering.) Since Gigi's inception in 2001, Laura has developed a brand that embodies her career-long mantra: healthy local ingredients and Mediterranean flavors go hand in hand. Her background as a chef and registered dietitian combined with a strong connection with the culinary bounty of the Hudson Valley reflects the Gigi Hudson Valley Mediterranean style of cooking, marrying what is fresh and in season with simple yet bold and elegant flavors.
As the founding chef and nutritionist of Just Salad, Laura played a pivotal role in shaping and developing the brand from its inception in 2006 to 2016. During her tenure, she contributed to the establishment of the restaurant's identity, emphasizing fresh and nutritious food choices. Her creative input and dedication to healthy eating were integral to the success of the brand. Even after stepping down to focus on other projects, Laura continued to contribute as a partner, maintaining a vested interest in the company until 2023. Herjourney with Just Salad reflects a decade-long commitment to fostering a culture of health and sustainability within the fast-casual dining landscape
A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, Laura is also a registered dietitian who has worked at premier teaching hospitals such as NY Presbyterian and Memorial Sloan Kettering. After leaving acute clinical care, Laura began merging her background in nutrition and cooking, co-authoring The Strang Cancer Prevention Center Cookbook (McGraw-Hill 2004; Dutton 1998).
In 2009 Laura wrote Hudson Valley Mediterranean: The Gigi Good Food Cookbook (HarperCollins), sharing her flavorful and practical approach to wholesome and healthy eating. She frequently contributes to national magazines and shares health news, recipes, and cooking tips in her Laura's Corner Table column with Sanctuary Magazine. Laura has served on various private and public boards, including Vaughan Foods and Healthy Children, Healthy Futures.
Laura focuses on supporting her community via Gigi Hudson Valley and through her work in writing and education. She believes the best education is putting delicious, healthful food on the plate. Throughout her career in food and wellness, Laura has demonstrated that eating healthy is accessible and attainable, Hudson Valley Mediterranean style. Her efforts were recognized in the Fifth Anniversary Issue of O when Oprah Magazine named Laura among the 'Five Most Giving and Gifted Food Professionals.'