As we settle in for lunch on the Bonton Farms patio, Laurence “Lo” Mittelbronn chats it up with the staff. The nonprofit market, restaurant, and café in southern Dallas holds a special place in her heart. Knowing she will be on the go, Mittelbronn orders a filling Grass-Fed Burger with cheese, and we bond over a shared ability to live in an agricultural countryside—where we both grew up—and big cities, where we have thrived since.
Mittelbronn’s roots extend to the area near Metz, France, where she grew up around her parent’s produce gardens and collected milk from a neighboring farm. “It helped me understand the meaning of good products,” she says. That foundational knowledge propelled her to a former post at the National Restaurant Association, where she developed the growth strategy for membership engagement and served as a supply chain expert during pandemic shortages. “There is a big relationship component to that, which people don’t think about but is important,” she says, explaining how vendors often give their limited supplies to customers with whom they have good standing. Careful menu planning, strategic thinking, and negotiating fixed prices as a buffer against market fluctuations have also been key.
She recently shifted to head of direct procurement for Reef Technology, a Miami-based company that builds ghost kitchens in shipping containers. She’s working remotely in Dallas while challenging herself with a large project outside her industry: bringing the global championship of an innovative car race to North Texas in 2024. “It would put Dallas on the map at a scale it has never been,” Mittelbronn says.
This isn’t the first time she has challenged herself beyond her industry. While preparing to be a stockbroker after college, she took a job in London decanting 1.8-kilogram tins of Iranian caviar into smaller portions. She spent the next decade in the luxury food sector in various roles, including being a food buyer for London-based Harrods and a business development manager for Caviar House and Prunier in Switzerland. At the latter, she partnered with Porsche, Rolex, and other lifestyle brands to provide upscale foods at large events, even after sturgeon had been declared an endangered species and demand dropped. “I was not going to invent a new caviar,” she says. “You have what you have. What you need to do is push yourself.”
And that is exactly what Mittelbronn has done—through a 9/11 layoff at Caviar House, a move back to France to manage partnerships with more than 50 suppliers as head of global supply chain, food, and beverage at Paris-based Sodexo; running global supply chain for food and beverage at French hotel company Accor then moving to Dallas to lead its North American procurement; through launching her own procurement advisory business; and through working with GLEAM Network and Copia, two California ventures that mentor the underserved in the restaurant industry and deliver food waste from hotels, restaurant, and more.
Mittelbronn says she knows it’s time to change course when her work becomes routine. “I need to bring something to what I do,” she says. Her new position at Reef and her work on the car-racing project provide plenty of opportunity for growth. And although her endeavors take her worldwide, she has no plans to leave North Texas. “Dallas is a place I really enjoy, and it feels warm,” Mittelbronn says. “It is home.”