MEET THE TEAM

Best in the Business

Our Rocky Top Catering team takes a tailored approach to each and every client we serve. Our professional and friendly staff make your event unforgettable — from planning to execution and every step in between. We work seamlessly with vendor partners to ensure that your event is everything you want it to be and more. To best serve our clients, our team members specialize in certain areas — corporate, weddings, social events, venue management and so forth — to ensure you get the expert attention you deserve.

Interested in working for the best in the catering business?

We’re constantly looking to grow our first-class team of sales and event managers, client relations staff, administrative support, chefs, servers and bartenders.

Leadership
RTC_2021Headshots_Web_DeanOgan

DEAN OGAN

OWNER
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since the beginning!

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Picking a favorite menu item is like picking my favorite child! Impossible.

Fun personal fact:

My favorite food is fresh roasted pumpkin seeds. I dream about them.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I love my teammates. People make this company great!

JEN OGAN

Director of Business Applications
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since November 2013

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Shrimp & Grits

Fun personal fact:

I am a retired pharmacist.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I love my co-workers and not just the one I am married to.

Carol Sasseen

Director of Sales
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since September 2014

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Street Tacos

Fun personal fact:

I have two amazing daughters.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Teamwork

Kristin Jolly

Director of Operations
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since May 2015

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Hot Chicken Poppers and our House Made Pickles

Fun personal fact:

I enjoy making jewelry and doing other crafts in my spare time.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The collaboration between sales, operations and culinary to create a unique event for every client.

Spencer Carter

Culinary Director
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since March 2016

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Shrimp & Grits

Fun personal fact:

I am happily married to my high school sweetheart.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Everything!

Colleen Vivenzio

Director of Finance
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since September 2010

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Roy’s Grits & Crab Cake Sliders

Fun personal fact:

I secretly love & am very good at archery. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have two children.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Introduced me to lifelong/best friends

Operations

Samantha Cromartie

Operations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since December 2017

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Pepper-Jack Queso, it’s truly addictive!

Fun personal fact:

My husband and I met while both working for Rocky Top. We now have three beautiful children together and still love working for this amazing company!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Rocky Top is more than just a catering company — it’s a second family. We all support each other and love what we do, which is giving back to the community and giving our clients the best experience on their special day.

Brian Reid

Beverage Operations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since April 2021

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Turkey Club from the Twisted Fork days

Fun personal fact:

My dog and I LOVE to go paddle boarding. I think he likes it more than I do!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Putting smiles on our client’s faces while working with a great group of employees that I’m proud to call my friends.

Culinary

Elizabeth Holdsclaw

Executive Pastry Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since June 2014

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Bacon Butterscotch Cupcakes

Fun personal fact:

I ride a motorcycle. You will recognize me by the cupcake on my helmet.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Seeing photos of my creations on social media and my assistant, Shawnee!

Roz Fields

Private Tasting Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since October 2014

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Chicken & Waffles

Fun personal fact:

I was the catcher for my college softball team.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I love the friendly staff I get to work with every day!

Michael Willliamson

Culinary Analyst
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since March 2019

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Whole Hog BBQ

Fun personal fact:

I love hanging out at the beach with my wife and dog.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The work-family comradery.

Hank Benjamin

Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since September 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Pink Peppercorn Seared Tuna with pickled ginger and wasabi aioli

Fun personal fact:

I’m a rabid hockey fan (Go Caps!). I love sci-fi fantasy movies and shows. I like my beer cheap and my bourbon neat. It is my dream in life to be a stay-at-home dog dad with my three hounds, Judge, Julep and Jura, although I am sure my wife (who also works at Rocky Top) would have something to say about that.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I really like being a part of making people’s special moments perfect. It’s a lot of fun and super gratifying.

José Guzman

Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since March 2018

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Smoked BBQ chicken

Fun personal fact:

I grew up in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The great people I get to work with.

Minilik Hailemariam

Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since October 2010

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Short Ribs

Fun personal fact:

I love to hike.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

It is an adventurous and fun environment to work in.

John Hinderliter

Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since April 2017

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Shrimp & Grits (and whatever is on the snack tray in the pastry department!)

Fun personal fact:

I try to play golf once a week, and I jog 3 – 5 miles a day.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The people I get to work with every day.

Jose Martinez

Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since February 2013

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Seafood – all of it!

Fun personal fact:

I like to play soccer.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Cooking for all our employees and guests.

Jhoan Mendez

Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since May 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Beer Can Chicken

Fun personal fact:

I love helping my community.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

This team feels like family!

Meghan Olesen

Executive Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since October 2021

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Brownies

Fun personal fact:

I taught agriculture at a Waldorf school.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The people!

Allison Phelps

Pastry Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since January 2023

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Cheerwine Chicken and the Mac & Cheese Station

Fun personal fact:

I love crafting and gardening. I’ve been making candles for years!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The work environment is very welcoming. Everyone always seems to be happy being at work!

Sales

Kevin DeHimer

Senior Catering Sales Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since August 2004

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

1. Seared Tuna 2. Pork Belly Tostada

Fun personal fact:

I have been to 14 countries, and 24 states.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The family of staff & the people/vendor partners I get to meet along the way.

Vicki Tong

Senior Catering Sales Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since July 2008

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Toasted Parmesan Mashed Potatoes…I could eat them every day!

Fun personal fact:

I’m a dog mom to 3 fur babies, a 90’s rap and country music enthusiast, and I live for Panthers football season!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Event Day! It makes my heart happy to see months of hard work and planning come together to create the most magical days for our clients!

Carley Festa

Senior Catering Sales Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since April 2021

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Sesame Roasted Salmon

Fun personal fact:

I’ve played soccer for as long as I can remember, and love anytime I can go and play for fun.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

As a new sales member, the team welcomed me with open arms and is there for me every step of the way.

Haylie Ludlum

Catering Sales Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since July 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bites

Fun personal fact:

I have two silly kids!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Everyone is like family here.

Kadie Martin

Catering Sales Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since May 2021

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Late Tomato & Sweet Corn Salad and Hot Chicken Poppers

Fun personal fact:

I’m originally from Kansas (cue Wizard of Oz jokes).

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Getting to travel around NC seeing all kinds of event venues and making new friends along the way!

Nichole Benjamin

Catering Sales Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since May 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Bacon Wrapped Pimento Dates

Fun personal fact:

I am a dog mama to three pups and getting married in October 2022.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

As a new member, all the support I have received from the team is awesome!

Sean Degnan

Client Relations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since August 2023 (after a 14-year hiatus!)

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Shrimp Ceviche (and a bunch of other Red Room, Michael Dean’s and Bogart’s throwback menu items!)

Fun personal fact:

I was a ballboy at the first-ever Charlotte Hornets basketball game.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The people. Rocky Top has provided a welcoming atmosphere for employees and their families for 25+ years. Countless marriages, families and small businesses have spawned from this amazing setting, including my own (Buku, Soca and Koan restaurants), Trophy Brewing and many more!

Ainsley Dickerson

Client Relations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since October 2023

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Shrimp and grits! I could eat grits every day of my life!

Fun personal fact:

I love all things to do with the beach and have grown up sailing!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I love how friendly and welcoming everyone here is!

Tessa's headshot

Tessa Hassinger

Client Relations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since December 2023

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Anything from the dessert menu!

Fun personal fact:

I enjoy CrossFit and am a certified Zumba instructor

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

How much it feels like a family! No mater how busy or stressful, everyone looks out for each other and cares for one another.

Jenifer headshot

Jenifer Machuca-Sorto

Client Relations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since February 2023

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Chicken & Waffles and Sesame Ginger Salmon

Fun personal fact:

I love game nights and going on walks with the love of my life and two dogs.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I love the people I get to work with every day!

Jordan Plocki

Client Relations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since August 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Bruschetta Mac & Cheese

Fun personal fact:

I am from Northern California but moved to Wake Forest when I was 9 and have lived here ever since then.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The team and the opportunities I have been given to work towards a career.

Corporate Office

Meredith Brensinger

Corporate Office Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since May 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Pupusas

Fun personal fact:

I love to write and am currently working on a four-part book series.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The people I work with — so far everyone is awesome!

UNC Blue Zone

Christopher Allen

Director of Operations & Sales
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Comeback tour since March 2023; Originally March 2010

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Japanese Black Wings with Ponzu Dipping Sauce

Fun personal fact:

I met Guy Fieri at a Rage Against The Machine Concert.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

It’s like working with a family.

Emma Dressel

Catering Sales Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since August 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Chicken & Waffles, Tia Maria Cooke Stacks

Fun personal fact:

I’ve danced since I could walk and love going sailing.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I’ve always admired the hustle this company has and the lively culture that’s here.

Lexi Jensen

BZ Operations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since September 2022

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Tia Maria Cookie Stacks or the Mac ‘n Cheese

Fun personal fact:

I moved to North Carolina this past fall from small town Minnesota. I enjoy golfing and hiking in my free time, so North Carolina is where I belong!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new events so Rocky Top is a perfect career fit!

Justin Levasseur

BZ Operations Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since July 2023

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Roasted Salmon

Fun personal fact:

Just moved to NC from CT. I enjoy attending sporting events, hiking, cooking and fishing. I’m an avid Boston sports fan!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Rocky Top’s team is always there to support each other to make sure each of our clients have the best possible experience during their event.

Nick Beiring

Executive Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since April 2021

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Harissa Grilled Chicken

Fun personal fact:

I love riding my motorcycle.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

Great co-workers!

Joseph Umbaugh

Sous Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since June 2017

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Green Chile Braised Pork Shoulder with Cheese Grits

Fun personal fact:

I can roll sushi with one hand.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

They provide employees the opportunity to balance work and home life.

UNC Football Center

Marc Vanscoy

Executive Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since December 2021

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Smoked brisket

Fun personal fact:

I went on tour with the Grateful Dead for five years when I was much younger.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I enjoy Dean and all the staff. And I really enjoy being the chef for the UNC football team. It’s a great environment, and getting to know the team and coaches is pretty cool!

The Daily Planet Cafe

Jourdan Cromartie

General Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since August 2011

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Turkey Burger & Epic French Dip

Fun personal fact:

I met my fiancé at Rocky Top and we are getting married August 5, 2022. And yes, Rocky Top is catering everything!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The people! I have a lot of lifelong relationships now because of Rocky Top and I am very thankful for that. Good people are hard to come by, and when you find good people that you love to be around and work with, it makes coming to work every day that much better.

Sarah Goodwin

Café Manager
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since January 2012

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Caprese Panini

Fun personal fact:

I’m from the Eastern Shore of Maryland and am obsessed with all things related to crabs and oysters. Oh and balloons make me uncomfortable when other people touch them!

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

The lifelong friends I have made working here!

Roy Durham

Executive Chef
How long have you been with Rocky Top:

Since 1998

Favorite Rocky Top menu item:

Nothing beats our burgers!

Fun personal fact:

I’m known for my smile.

Favorite thing about working at Rocky Top:

I love meeting new people at the cafe and through events we cater.

want to join the team?

Take a look at our available positions and see if you’re a good fit.

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Photo credits: Kate Pope Photography