Meet the #SCBDTeam!


Sara Monica, CEO, Founder, & Editor-in-chief

1545748_502483743200100_1843717874_nSara is the CEO, founder and Editor-in-chief  of aka #SCBD. Sara is a Jersey Girl raised by and currently living by the shore hoping to make her way living back near NYC. When she is not working, she is finding something new to post and share with her readers whether it be a new food product, recipe, restaurant review or another interview. Read her full bio, here. Read the full story behind #SCBD, here.  When she is not writing for #SCBD she also contributes to FriendsEATJersey Bites, Carter Int’l ConciergeManhattan with a Twist, & more. Follow her and feel free to tweet her @SmChickBigDeals!

 Jasmine Eclipse, Former #SCBDIntern & Writer


 Jasmine Eclipse is a journalism senior at the University of Oregon. After she graduates, she will be moving to Hawaii to work in the editorial department of a magazine. During her college career, she has been an active part of the journalism community. She was the Copy Chief of the Emerald Media Group, a political columnist for Turning Point USA and an active contributor for Lucky Magazine. When she isn’t at home on Maui, she’s traveling the world. You can find her on Twitter at @jasminekeclipse.

Jessica Figueiredo, Former #SCBDIntern & Writer

0604 (1)I’m Jessica Figueiredo and I’m an unusual girlie girl. I love ice cream, my dog, shoes, travel and laughing – all in excess please. I live my life by enjoying each and everyday…Carpe Diem! So, I may make a few mistakes, but that’s how one learns to live life and fall in love. I have learned that you need to work 100% of the time, even though 70% of the time it’s luck. With that said, I graduated Kean University with Communications-Public Relations as my major and Health Education as my minor. I know they are two completely different areas, but I am passionate about both. My dream is to take the PR world by storm while finding new goals along the way! Make sure you follow your dreams and travel often – oxox! Follow me @jessicagrace25

Kristen Hammett, #SCBDIntern & Writer

1381983_744358475580831_860227204_n        Kristen Hammett is a junior at California University of Pennsylvania where she studies Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in business. Kristen is her chapter of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) fundraiser/event coordinator. After college Kristen dreams of being a publicist within the entertainment industry and/or planning events.  In her free time Kristen enjoys being outdoors, hanging with friends, finding the latest fashion trends at a discount price, and trying out new recipes. Kristen is excited to be interning  at! What to find out more about her follow her @krishammett!

Victoria Caroccia, Former #SCBDIntern & Writer


Victoria Caroccia is an Editorial Intern at and a senior Journalism major at the College of Staten Island. Growing up in the Forgotten Borough of New York City has given Victoria a humble suburban foundation with abig city attitude. Victoria writes primarily about fashion, beauty, health, and fitness, and spends an unhealthy amount of time on Twitter.When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her either out an about with friends or snuggling on the couch watching Bravo TV/Will and Grace/The Golden Girls reruns with her boxer, Chloe. With a Journalism degree, Victoria hopes to pursue a career in Broadcast Journalism and eventually become the host of her very own daytime talk show. If that doesn’t work out, you can see her as the Editor and Chief of a major magazine. If both of those plans fall through, she’ll settle for becoming Mrs. Leonardo DiCaprio. Like her so far? Follow her on Twitter! @VictoriaFerosha

Sarah Gibney, Former #SCBDIntern & Writer 


Sarah Gibney is a Hofstra University junior majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Psychology. This New Hampshire native moved to New York for adventure and to explore the big city. In her spare time she loves to experiment with new recipes and is always down to try new foods!

Alessia Aron, Hudson County Writer

alessia aronAlessia Aron moved to Jersey City from New Brunswick two years ago and fell in love. She currently works for the Jersey City chapter of Dishcrawl, taking foodies on guided walking tours, sampling some of the best food the city has to offer.When she’s not planning the next crawl, she’s attending other food events, trying new restaurants, bar hopping in the East Village, experimenting in the kitchen, or reading Michael Pollan’s latest book. How does she not weigh 300 pounds you ask? She’s been dancing since she was four and attends classes whenever she’s not busy eating. Her favorite cuisine is Peruvian and she’s inspired by her sister and uncle Sal’s amazing Argentinian Italian cooking. She currently has the travel bug so be sure to check out her blog for her latest adventure.

Amanda Mactas, Food & Nightlife Writer

Amanda Mactas is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Manhattan with a Twist. She originally hails from Connecticut, but has lived in the Big Apple for over two years now. She has since scoured the boroughs for the best of the city’s food, cocktails, nightlife, and fashion. Amanda is also a contributor to Shecky’sShecky’s NightlifeJoonbugSocietePerrierForkology, and SmallChickBigDeals. When she is not exploring the city, she can be found reading a good book, cheering for the Yankees, partying with her friends and always quoting Harry Potter. Follow her @ManhattanTwist!!

AnnMarie Williams, Writer 
Annie Williams Bio Pic
AnnMarie Williams, or Annie as her friends call her, is a twenty something living in sunny Southern California. As a recent graduate she spends her days working in the busy Los Angeles entertainment industry and reporting for a local city channel. She’s a huge fan of outdoor activities, and can be found hitting the trails for a hike or at the beach. She loves trying new activities and restaurants, and going to the latest country music concerts. Follow her @AnnieWilliams13
Antoinette Miles, South Jersey Food Writer & Restaurant Reviewer

552403_10150657637188277_1817197321_nI’m Antoinette, also known as Toni, and I reside in South Jersey. I consider myself a jack of all trades, having interests in graphic design, politics, writing and now, cooking! I love to cook with fresh ingredients and discover new techniques and flavor combinations right in my kitchen. My love for cooking comes from my grandmother who has passed on many southern traditions from growing up in Virginia. When I am not working in politics or designing on my computer, I am usually browsing all things nerdy, from comic books and technology to video games and Japanese animation. Follow me on Twitter @ayylookitstoni!

Arlene Gaona, Food Writer & Restaurant Reviewer

215194_10151366704482238_392385867_nI’m Arlene Gaona. I like to call myself the Empty Nester of Small Chick Big Deals. I am a very Jersey girl. Grew up in Bergen County, went to college in Gloucester County and have lived in Monmouth County for the past 30 years.  I have been a high school Special Ed teacher since 1980, teaching various subjects, this year it is Spanish. I have 2 daughters who are establishing themselves in the work world and am ever so proud of them. When I am not working I like flea markets, the beach and meeting people from different countries. All this travel in state or out of the country often finds me in a restaurant. Although I’ve been told I’m a very good cook, after a tough week, or even a tough day, I like to be taken care of at a restaurant that will give me good food for a good price. Sometimes, it is the happy hour with ½ price apps, or a nice meal at a place a bit pricier for something in particular they serve. To me, a good deal can be a bargain meal or a pricier meal that gives you just what you’re craving at the moment.

Cortney J. Johnson, Virginia Based Writer

imageCortney Johnson, a native New Yorker (Brooklyn & Westbury, LI) currently resides in Glen Allen, VA a suburb outside of Richmond, VA.  Cortney is married to Matthew Johnson and they have a son, Matthew Jr. (3 yrs.)  Cortney’s professional background is in Education- a graduate from SUNY New Paltz with a B.S. in Elementary Education then later received a Masters degree from Troy University in Post Secondary Education.  
Right now, Cortney is taking time off from work and enjoying motherhood.  In her spare time, Cortney loves cooking, dining out, going to the movies, watching TV, Tweeting, and traveling (domestic and internationally).  Follow her on Twitter: @CortneyJohnelle

Cassandra Marro, Connecticut Based Food Writer

Cassandra MarroCassandra Marro is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University currently hailing from beachside Connecticut. She has always had a love affair with New York, and has plans on relocating soon. Music, wine and the culinary arts are three of her core passions, and when she’s not working as a veterinary technician at an animal hospital, she can be spotted singing, playing the ukulele and piano, and experimenting with new recipes and flavors. She is thrilled to be a part of the Small Chick Big Deals team, and hopes her fresh perspective and experience will be an asset to the community. You can follow her on Twitter @m_cmarro!

Dawnmarie Birch Trani, Brooklyn Based Food Writer

Dawn is a 37 year old, dedicated mother and lover of all things food related. She spends most nights home cooking with her husband, Pat, who is known best for mastering the art of Pizza on their little charcoal barbeque. Spoiled by her Grandma Anna’s amazing cooking, she searches for the complete experience: high energy, just the right amount of noise, great food, and a good price.Dawn is determined to venture out and have at least one successful dining experience a week with her three and half year old son, Christian, in tow. Her main goal is to expose her son to the many culinary delights that Brooklyn has to offer without breaking the bank. And maybe a splurge or three along the way… Follow her @DawnmarieB1103!

Christina Philippou, Former #SCBDIntern & Writer

cp2Christina Philippou, is a junior at Hofstra University majoring in Public Relations and Global Studies. She loves living in New York, but will always be a Jersey girl at heart. In her free time she enjoys venturing into NYC, shopping, and of course eating. Christina enjoys trying new food from all different places around the tri-state area. She is currently trying to perfect the art of eating like a queen on a broke college students’ budget! Follow Christina on twitter @ChristinaAPhili

Emily Welby, New York City, Hampton’s Writer


Born and raised just 30 minutes outside the bright lights of NYC, Emily grew up knowing she was destined to be a city girl.  A graduate of Fordham University (major: Communications, minor: Business) she works as an events and marketing professional with experience in the restaurant, fashion and hospitality industries.  When she’s not exploring the vast array of culinary and social experiences the city has to offer, you can find her cheering on the Yankees and Jets.  Emily is grateful to her parents for exposing her to the Hamptons at an early age, and will be covering the scene from the Island this summer as she feeds her addiction to seafood.  Emily currently resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Follow her at @bambiibella!

Fay Schwartz, Health & Fitness Writer

Fay SchwartzFay Schwartz is a born and raised Jersey girl with a huge passion for health and fitness. In 2010 she lost 68 pounds by redoing her diet and finding healthy food alternatives to her not so healthy favorites. Since then Fay has started Curvy is Bella, a Facebook community where girls with a “figure” can get healthy recipes, tips, tricks and the motivation they need to get fit and love their bodies! Fay currently resides in Burlington New Jersey with her boyfriend of four years and two pups Twiggy and Kiwi. Her hobbies include graphic design, working out, jewelry making, performing and helping others reach their weight loss goals! You can follow her on twitter @L0LAbunny!

Helena Riede, Bergen County/NYC Writer

linkedinHelena Riede is a senior at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is studying Public Relations, focusing on social media. She is a four-year varsity volleyball starter, as well as a 4-year member of the varsity golf team.  A Bergen-county native, she spends as much time in New York City as possible.  Her favorite meal of the day is brunch, as she is on a quest to find the best eggs benedict the world has to offer.


Hope Kumor, Fitness Writer

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I’m Hope Kumor and I love all things health & fitness. Along with that, I love to learn about relationships and love! I graduated from Temple University with a BA in English. But, I’m continuing to pursue a career in magazine writing and social media! Working for a magazine has always been my passion and I took it up a notch when I began interning at Good Housekeepingand Family Circle Magazine. From writing for various publications such as Her Campus Temple, Bucks County Courier TimesTemple NewsThe Centurion– the Bucks County Community College newspaper to interning at WBCB 1490, I’ve gotten the ultimate writing experience. I will continue to strive for my goals to pursue this dream of mine! Many cheers for the pink lipstick queen. Follow her @FitnessHopeK

Jessica Danto, Former #SCBDIntern & Food Writer

jessdJessica Danto is a Jersey Girl, born and raised in the heart of Bergen County. She is currently a senior at William Paterson University where she is pursuing her degree is Marketing. On her free time she loves to look up and try new recipes that she finds on pinterest. She has recently discovered her foodie side. She loves finding new restaurants to try and is looking forward to working with the SCBD family. You can follow her @JessicaDanto!


Jill Rosenfeld, Pescatarian Writer

 Hi readers, I am Jillian Rosenfeld. I grew up in Central New Jersey, and I am currently a sophomore at SUNY Albany, where I am majoring in journalism and minoring in communications and educations. Like most people I enjoy a night out with my friends and boyfriend where we try out local restaurants and cafes. I love trying out new places and finding pescatarian friendly places. Since I have stopped eating meat almost 5 years ago, I love finding restaurants with good, fresh fish and of course pasta! So, I hope I can find places for other vegetarian and pescatarians out there, aimed in the Albany, NYC, and central NJ area (all the places I am the most)!

Julianna Bilton, Food & Fashion Writer

Photo on 2011-02-06 at 14.22 Julianna is a Manhattan College alum. She has interned at MTV, VH1 and mtvU. Her internships have helped her discover her passion for television publicity and she hopes to begin a long career in the field. NYC is the place she calls home so she knows the subway system inside and out. Julianna listens to every genre of music from country to rap.She loves trying new foods at restaurants around the city and is always looking for a deal. Julianna loves home décor and each month she buys practically every magazine on the newsstand. Follow her on Twitter @julibilton


Katie Day, Lifestyle, Fitness & Fashion Writer

kdayheadshotKatie Day is a senior at Hofstra University studying Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and Social Media. She is currently a freelance bridal writer and works part-time for an advertising agency.  Born and raised in Maine, Katie is getting used to the excitement of living in New York and is constantly exploring Manhattan. She loves all aspects of fashion, Starbucks, cats, and high heels. You can always find her with a fashion magazine or book in hand. Follow her on Twitter @katierday

Kate Hay, Beauty & Entertainment Writer

kate hayKate Hay is an actress. Born and raised in New Jersey, and constantly traveling into the city, particularly Greenwich Village, in a effort to expand her cultural horizons. She graduated with a B.A in Theatre and minors in History and Political Science from The George Washington University. While she loved living in DC, her heart was left in the Tristate and soon after graduating she returned to NJ to pursue her career in acting.  In her free time she loves trying new organic beauty products, watching copious amounts of film and tv, and venturing into NYC to see new theatrical productions. This lifestyle comes with a hefty price tag, which a working actress wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford, but where there is a will there is always a way, and Kate has discovered that way. She will be contributing to with tips on how to stay naturally beautiful and where to get your entertainment fixes on a budget. Tweet her @KateHay.

Kelly Ann Gonzales, Food and Travel Writer


AFS Profile Pic FBKelly Ann Gonzales is a hotel and restaurant management graduate from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Class of 2014. She is currently a Travel and Food Writer for SCBD. She is also the Founder and Editor-In-Chief at and the Business Relations Manager for ConZerge – a web-based app for streamlining business and leisure itinerary. Kelly is a lover of all things Pablo Neruda, Junot Diaz, puppies, and literature. You can follow her on Twitter at @bobellerz or @AlphaFemSociety. Cheers!

Kristen Heard, Food Writer

kristen heardI have such a passion for food and dining at restaurants. I love being healthy too, but you need to enjoy life. I love finding the balance between enjoying what you like to eat and eating healthy. Food is a lifestyle, it is part of everyone’s life but in my life it is more than just a necessity, it is an indulgence. I do have to admit my cooking skills are nothing more than ordinary, but my knowledge and passion for finding good restaurants with good recipes, taste, atmosphere, presentation, and service is top notch. I graduated Fairleigh Dickinson University with a B.A. in Psychology and currently reside in Morris County, New Jersey. Helping people is my passion, and I personally feel food and having a fabulous dining experience is important in helping people relax and escape from reality and the stresses of work and life. I love to dine out a lot, so I will be adding my knowledge and taste buds to help share the good and bad of the restaurants I dine in. Feel free to follow my Instagram @Kri0000!

 Kristen Lefkus, Food, Fashion, & Fitness Writer

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Kristen Lefkus is a recent graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with degrees in Literature and Spanish. A born and raised Jersey Girl, Kristen spends her time in the Garden State and finds her way to the Big Apple when she can. As an athlete in both high school and college (tennis and fencing), Kristen loves to discuss new workouts and staying in shape whether or not you are an athlete. When she isn’t exercising or reading, Kristen has a passion for fashion. Having worked in retail for two years not only has her style evolved but so has the desire to get those fashionable pieces at an affordable price. She loves discussing anything from sports to classic literature, especially Miguel de Cervantes.

Lauren Emerick, Fashion Writer


Lauren was born and raised in South Jersey. She graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Studies. Recently, Lauren spent just under 5 months living in the US Virgin Islands doing an internship for a retail store. She loves all things fashion, summers at the Jersey Shore, the beach, and having adventures with her friends! Lauren is always on the lookout for deals and hopes to help readers score some amazing fashion finds! Follow her on Twitter @xoLaurr!

Lia Giachino, Food Writer

Hi I’m Lia and I’m a born and raised Jersey Girl from Bergen County. I come from an Italian family, where food is everything, and have been a food lover ever since my first visit to Il Mulino in NYC when I was a mere two months old. My whole life I’ve frequented restaurants in the North Jersey area as well as in Manhattan. I have always enjoyed cooking myself trying recipes passed down from my Nana and mother as well as my own new creations. I recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island with my B.A in Communications/Public Relations with a focus on Social Media Marketing. I have experience in sales and marketing for the food service industry, hotel and hospitality public relations as well as social media marketing and public relations for start-up companies and someday hope to own my own boutique PR firm. When I’m not working I’m usually out in NYC visiting family or on adventures with friends. I love taking pictures, am very passionate about music and often go to live shows, I try to travel when I can and am a huge make-up junkie! Follow me on Twitter @lmgiachino! 

Liz Amodeo, Writer 


Liz Amodeo is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in Psychology and has a large interest in consumer insight. She is a cat-loving, nature trekking coffee connoisseur who resides in Northern New Jersey. Even though she is a loyal Starbucks AND Dunkin’ Donuts fan, she finds great delight in scouting out the unique local coffee shops. She also loves to experiment with recipes and photograph the finished creations. When she is not drinking coffee or experimenting in the kitchen, Liz enjoys hiking, photography, and promoting recycling. She is extremely excited to work with the SCBD Team! You can follow her on Twitter @amoeliz

Michael Pecci, Restaurant Reviewer

michaelMichael is a Communications Consultant and Event Planning Specialist with a Master’s in Corporate and Organizational Communication. He’s had a passion for eating and critiquing food for as long as he can remember (ever since the mushed peas). When not at work or out and about, Michael can be found keeping it classy with a glass of wine, brushing up on his sarcasm, or planning his next travel adventure. He believes in carpe diem, not “yolo”, and will always be ready to correct YOUR grammar whenever YOU’RE wrong (he’s got your back!)

Sami Phillips, Food & Lifestyle Writer

unnamedSamantha Varneke is a freelance graphic designer who has worked in New Jersey, New York, California, and Pennsylvania. Her main passions in life are coffee, cats, and doodling. Samantha enjoys all sorts of food (especially deserts) and fortunately also loves finding exciting new work outs and exercise tips. You can see her work at Follow her @manthastar31!


Stephanie Porter, Beer & Spirits Writer

882794_10200505068165423_1440001178_oStephanie Porter is an alumni of Wagner College where she studied arts administration. She has a passion for entertainment, art production, and painting nails. She is also published photographer on She enjoys an ice cold beer, and absolutely loves finding deliciously brewed treasures hidden on the store shelves! Drink Up C; Follow her on Twitter @Stephaniirosee!


Steven Pesantez, Former #SCBDIntern and Writer

960065_518602788175945_1034442145_nSteven is a native New Yorker currently living and studying in Staten Island. He is a proud brother of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and while he may live in the suburban borough, his heart remains in Manhattan. He loves finding hole in the wall restaurants and loves trying new food wherever he goes. Steven’s a huge arts enthusiast and he goes to concerts, improv shows, and Broadway shows whenever he can. He’s very excited to be joining the team as an intern here at Small Chick Big Deals, and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for him! Follow him on Twitter @StevePesantez!

Sakarra Fite, Former #SCBDIntern & Writer


Hey there, my name is SaKarra Fite. I am a very honest, crafty, and creative, 22 year old, recent college grad, and mother of one beautiful baby boy.  I am a perfect blend of Southern Bell and Northerner; very blunt with hospitality and charm. I enjoy writing, singing, and laughing. I just recently started blogging ( and doing freelance public relations ( I love to learn new things and meet new people. You can follow her @_msgetright!

Taylor Delandro, Former #SCBDIntern, Features and Fashion Writer

taylor dTaylor Delandro is a journalism student at the University of Mississippi, where she writes for the Daily Mississippian. She discovered her passion for writing during her senior year of high school. Taylor is a New Orleans native and enjoys everything cajun, traveling, painting, and of course finding great deals. If she’s not out hunting for the latest fashion trends, you can find her catching a bite to eat on the square with friends. She is excited about being a Small Chick Big Deals fall intern. You can follow her @Tayla_Babyy!






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