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Meet Lisa Liguori of ChefsBest

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Liguori.

Lisa received her bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and business at USC and received her MBA at USD in 2001. Following her MBA, Lisa served an internship in New York at a money management firm and then moved back to San Diego for a marketing role at National Pen, led by her father Tom Liguori. Once the Liguori’s sold National Pen, Lisa and her family decided to create a venture capital fund, in addition to starting other businesses they still own and operate today. This sparked the acquisition of ChefsBest in March 2013, where Lisa serves as CEO.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were a few challenges along my professional journey. The venture capital fund, for example, was created around 2008, during the recession. That marked a difficult time to start a business but provided a good learning experience for me. In addition, I took over ChefsBest at a time when the company was in poor financial shape. There, I dealt with the challenges of managing and leading a demoralized company in financial trouble and having to raise the morale of both existing and new employees. On top of that, I was also learning firsthand about the competitive and challenging food retail industry.

Despite the challenges, I chose to lead ChefsBest because I saw the company had strayed from their core strength and a proven model. I knew if I could steer the company back to the basics, and infuse my marketing experience, I could revise the company and breathe new life into the business.

Please tell us about ChefsBest.
ChefsBest guides consumers to the best tasting foods by identifying high-quality products through a rigorous sensory evaluation process conducted by a panel of chefs.

The company opened its first Center for Taste® in San Francisco in 2003 and developed their proprietary process called SAQA® (Sensory Attribute Quality Analysis) that same year. ChefsBest’s Best Taste Award has been around since the company was founded in 2001 and licensing the award allows a product to claim it is the highest rated among leading brands.

In 2012, the company created the Excellence Award, which when licensed, allows a product to claim that it meets or surpasses quality standards established by independent, professional chefs. In 2016, the company launched its Quality in Craft (QiC) Award to honor boutique and regional brands with exceptional taste. ChefsBest awards are a nationally recognized trust mark and are used by many brands including Vitafusion, Welch’s, Slimfast, Goya, and more.

Through thick and thin, ChefsBest maintains its integrity with scientific rigor. Despite any opinions or bias, the company sticks by the data it produces and the rules its SAQA method provides. If the data doesn’t support an ad claim, ChefsBest does not support the license; a non-negotiable aspect of the company’s business model.

ChefsBest stands apart through its use of science to make taste-based claims. While existing consumer data can be vague or high level (i.e. describing something as just “chocolate-y”), ChefsBest leverages its unique scientific claim of best taste to ensure accuracy and precision in its findings.

In addition, I’m proud of the team we’ve put together at ChefsBest. Through the loss of legacy employees and gaining new employees, the company has experienced growing pains with forming the right team but can confidently say we now have a supportive and positive environment that makes coming into the office enjoyable.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood was picking out Christmas trees with my family. After choosing the tree in the lot, we would strap it to the top of our mini-van, drive home, and spend the night decorating it. We also listened to Christmas carols, singing and laughing while having a great time together as a family.

That night, my siblings and I would camp out underneath the tree and stare up at all of the pretty lights reflecting on branches and ornaments until drifting off to sleep.

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