Co-founder + Proprietor
Nancy Thomas, local food advocate and restauranteur, grew up in Oklahoma City with a Moroccan mother and Oklahoman father who truly valued hospitality. Her family inspiration led her to a life in the restaurant industry beginning in 1984. She has explored the world of food from the far off Mediterranean Sea and the panhandle of Texas to a variety of cities on the East Coast until she landed in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
Thomas’ vision led her to founding Mezze Bistro + Bar in its first location on Water Street in Wiliamstown in 1996. The success of Mezze Bistro + Bar led to the birth of Mezze Catering + Events in 1999, which continues to allow the restaurant group to bring the original Mezze dining experience to guests throughout the region. In 2001, Thomas opened Eleven at MASS MoCA, her second restaurant, housed at the nation’s largest contemporary arts center. Reincarnated as Café Latino at MASS MoCA several years later, the restaurant served patrons for eight years at its museum location. In 2007, Allium Restaurant + Bar was opened in Great Barrington and has been well received with accolades and great reviews.
Thomas is dedicated to creating extraordinary dining experiences reminiscent of her childhood memories. She is an advocate for shaping a community of sustainable agriculture and, with her restaurants and catering company, has created a means by which consumers can lay down values with their dollars and support the local economy. Committed to the local food movement, Thomas maintains that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced locally and sustainably.
Thomas is the co-author of The Great Tiki Drink Book and contributor to Caribbean Cocktails with Jennifer Trainer Thompson (both published by Ten Speed Press.) She is a board member of Berkshire Grown the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, Berkshire Creative and 1Berkshire.
Bo Peabody, Co-founder
Bo Peabody is an expert in consumer-oriented businesses and forward-thinking cultural movements as well as a well-known technology and media entrepreneur. His first company, Tripod – one of the original social networks – was the eighth largest website on the Internet when it was sold to Lycos (1998.) His second company Village Ventures – an early stage venture capital firm – pioneered the new global trend toward smaller funds. Peabody also co-founded Streetmail (1998, now called Everyday Health), VoodooVox (2000), Health Guru (2004) and UplayMe (2006.) An advocate for building community and supporting the local economy, Peabody co-owns Mezze Restaurant Group with partner Nancy Thomas.
Peabody is featured regularly in major business and consumer publications, and has received numerous honors. He wrote a book for entrepreneurs called Lucky or Smart?, which was published by Random House in January 2005. He speaks about technology and entrepreneurship at conferences and business schools across the globe.
A graduate of Williams College, Peabody resides New York City and Williamstown, MA, and is on the board of The Academy at Charlemont.
Linda Stripp, Catering Director
As director of Mezze Catering + Events, Linda Stripp is charged with shaping the overall direction of catering operations. She is primarily focused on planning and managing special events including weddings, rehearsal dinners, cocktail parties, corporate functions and galas. Her lead role is in client relations, working hand in hand with each of our catering clients at every stage of planning to deliver exceptional service and an event that is truly worth celebrating.
During her tenure at Mezze Restaurant Group, Stripp worked in a variety of different positions including opening chef and sous chef. Before joining Mezze, she worked under Brendan Walsh at The Elms Restaurant in Ridgefield, CT. Prior to her stint at The Elms, Stripp was an entrepreneur founding and operating The Natural Kitchen Catering Co. and The Natural Merchant Café in Southbury, CT. During that time, she developed the company’s overall business strategy, created menus, managed food costing and purchasing as well as hired, trained and supervised staff.
Stripp is the co-author of Caribbean Cocktails, Very Blueberry, Very Cranberry and Very Maple Syrup with Jennifer Trainer Thompson, all published by Ten Speed Press.
Aside from her cooking experience, Linda holds a BA in English and a Masters in Education from Fairfield University. She maintains residence in Williamstown, MA with her husband and two children.
Chef, Mezze Bistro + Bar
Chef Joji Sumi is solidly committed to sourcing local ingredients from the surrounding region and partnering with like-minded farms in our community. His “farm to table” philosophy translates to procuring the best-quality produce, meats, cheeses and other local foods to create a superior product for Mezze Bistro guests. Sumi has daily dialog with many farmers and makes a concerted effort to bring his kitchen staff to the farms to help with seasonal harvests and participate in the butchering of the food that is on his changing menus.
Sumi came to Mezze Bistro + Bar in October 2007 after working as head baker and pastry chef for Midland Country Club in Michigan. His 15-plus years of culinary experience include positions ranging from line cook and sous chef to head chef. Over the past few years, the Japanese-American chef has developed the Mezze Bistro + Bar menu to reflect his background, blending classic French technique with the influences of his Asian heritage.
Sumi is increasingly inspired by the availability of fresh seasonal ingredients in the Berkshire region. The changing of the seasons provides him with a natural backdrop for an interesting and ever-evolving menu at Mezze Bistro + Bar.
Chef, Allium Restaurant + Bar
Born and raised in New England, Chef Daire Rooney developed a passion for cooking at a young age helping her mother (who was a chef) cater events whenever possible. She was lured by the excitement of the kitchen and enjoyed playing a part in the dynamic environment. Daire brings a breadth of knowledge to the kitchen at Allium Restaurant + Bar — her Swiss grandfather owned a restaurant on the upper east side in New York for 30 years and her cooking reflects both her Italian heritage and French training.
Daire has many years of experience working in kitchens across the East Coast of the U.S. She began her restaurant career at the age of 12, starting out as a busser and dishwasher. She moved into the kitchen and continued to follow her passion. In 2000, Daire became the Personal Chef and Head of Household to actress Meryl Streep and family.
Daire relocated to Amenia, NY, in 2006 to begin planning and organizing the opening of De La Vergne Restaurant as Executive Chef. She stayed on developing the menu and back-of-house team for the first year and in July of 2007, took the position of Executive Chef at Brix Wine Bar, a 40-seat French bistro with an extensive wine list in Pittsfield, MA. In high season of 2010, she worked as Catering Chef with Mezze Catering + Events and in the fall of 2010, she moved to Georgia to take the position as Lead Chef at the Augusta National Golf Club, Home of the Masters Tournament, where she started the Greenhouse Program.
In addition to her restaurant and personal chef experience, Daire has participated in dinners at the James Beard House and Outstanding in the Field, taught cooking classes for the Railroad Street Youth Project and Different Drummer’s Kitchen, and has served as a board member of Berkshire Grown, a non-profit organization supporting local food and farms.
In the fall of 2012, Daire returned to the Berkshires as Chef of Allium Restaurant + Bar. She is passionate about using locally grown foods and heirloom ingredients and is excited to be working with our region’s farms and food producers.