Western Research Kitchens Team

Pam Johnson - Associate

Pam Johnson has 20+ years of experience including public relations, sales promotion and marketing communications. Pam’s “niche” is in the food industry, including marketing and PR for consumer packaged goods, restaurants, chefs and nutrition communications. Pam has developed and managed strategic programs for companies such as Ready Pac Produce, Lawry's Foods, Vons, California Egg Commission, Kerr Consumer Products, California Avocado Commission, National Nutritional Foods Association, Dole Foods, and Gelson’s Markets, as well as national restaurant chains including Chipotle and Pasta Pomodoro. Pam has also conducted numerous media relations and special projects for Lee & Associates over the past several years.

Pam provides Lee & Associates’ clients with a wide range of marketing and public relations services, including program development, media relations/pitching, spokesperson development and training, trade show management, special events, marketing communications and copywriting. Pam has worked on both the corporate and agency sides of marketing, including consumer promotions, brand management support and public relations management, as well as agency account management and new business.

Pam's work has won several creative awards including a CIPRA award from Inside PR Magazine, a first place PRism award in the audio-visual presentation category from PRSA Los Angeles and a second place PRo award for continuing internal publications from the Publicity Club of Los Angeles. Pam holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Magna Cum Laude from Texas Tech University, and a Certification in Public Relations from UCLA. She is an active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Gerry Furth - Food Consultant/Writer

Gerry Furth began working with Lee & Associates over 20 years ago as the creator/producer of the Ethnic Community Segment of the Chef Boy-ar-dee National Pizza Bowl Cook-off. A record-size pizza presentation to the Los Angeles City Council by three generations of a prominent Italian family made for lots of fun print and TV coverage.

A seasoned photojournalist, Gerry has been covering the food and restaurant scene in Los Angeles, since it first gained national prominence. Her experience ranges from Newsweek editorial and television broadcasting to three ethnic magazine publications: (Jewish Forward English section; Saludos and the African-American publication, Cause). She also covered Southern Los Angeles for a Frommer Guidebook series. Her cookbook work securing contracts and writing, includes Sofi’s Aegean Kitchen and pizza-making icon Ed LaDou’s pizza book, as well as Peggy Mellody’s Guidebook to L.A. Her column, "Kids in the Kitchen” appeared in L.A. Family Magazine, and she is a regular contributor to Valleyscene Magazine. She works with all of the major social media outlets, as well as key bloggers in the food industry.

As TV spokesperson, Gerry develops recipes with top chefs, representing a variety of Lee & Associates clients’ products, to present on multi-city holiday media tours. She does cooking demonstrations, as well as offering viewers health information and ways to prepare the products.

Gerry has personally represented dozens of ethnically-diverse and major Los Angeles area restaurants, including the introduction of the national Buca di Beppo chain and the newly-remodeled Malibu Chart House, as well as publicizing top catering companies, such as Along Came Mary and Someone’s in the Kitchen.

Gerry strategized national publicity for Chef Prado and for Chef Sal Marino of Il Grano and La Bottega Marino, including dinners for the James Beard Foundation in New York.


  • Tommy Tang's Global Catering at the SAG AWARDS
  • “Let’s Get Cooking” TV Show with Tommy Tang – on location in Thailand and major urban cities in the U.S.
  • The first and second Royal Thai Government sponsored Food and Cultural Festival with pre-event parties for 300, national post-festival PR.
    SALUDOS MAGAZINE Video "The American Dream" and National Awards Banquet, including Ferde Pacheco, Muhammad Ali's physican , Julio Iglesias, Jockey Lafitte Pincay
  • AmFAR's "Two Steppin' for the Cure," for Elizabeth Taylor's birthday,
  • First Olympic Cook-off on behalf of the St. Nicholas Church 23rd Annual Valley Greek Festival with top hotel and restaurant chefs and owners; food writers as judges and sponsors. Exclusive full page story in L.A. Times.
  • First Sephardic Seders at Cava Restaurant, which benefitted charity. National and extensive local coverage in print and TV
  • "Cinco de Mayo Feast and Wine Tasting to kick off the Latin Cuisine series, "Keeping Ethnic Food Authentic" with John Sedlar, Felix Salcedo of Sonora Cafe; Border Grill and "Day of the Dead" costume ball at Cava, sponsored by the American Wine and Food Institute.
  • Waiter's Race "Taste of L.A."
  • “SOS Taste of the Nation": "Give Back to the Hungry" in conjunction with Universal Studios Hollywood and American Express
  • Various Women's Culinary Alliance Program Activities
  • *"Food is Architecture/Architecture is Food": Holiday Gingerbread Houses by famous architects and pastry chefs (which inspired an annual NYC event).
    *Panel: "Women in Food" of top, notorious male, female chefs; *"Etiquette Dinner at Le St. Germain Restaurant
  • Planned Parenthood Guild’s Food Fare

Gerry holds a dual - Master's Degree from Antioch College in Ohio, as well as an English as a Second Language Certification from UCLA; her undergraduate work was done at University of Michigan and Monteith College.

Steven Kasmar - Consulting Chef

Steven Kasmar (C.W.C.) is an American Culinary Federation certified working chef. He received his accreditation at Orange Coast College Culinary program, graduating with honors.

His career includes work at Vie de France in South Coast Plaza, Mother's Market and Kitchen (a total vegetarian restaurant), Le Midi (Southern French Cuisine) and Sail Loft (Seafood Restaurant). He assisted the Touque Blanche Culinary Team in Frankfurt, Germany at the 1988 Culinary Olympics and is currently Director of the Culinary School, as well as, a culinary instructor at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Steven also teaches courses at Orange Coast College. He is very active in the education process and has involved his students in several chef competitions, where they have won many medals for top honors.

He has appeared on many local TV and radio shows demonstrating his culinary skills, showcasing products of Lee & Associates' clients, as well as offering advice on nutrition and food safety.

Steven's philosophy for his food presentations is that flavors, textures, colors and aromas must be in harmony to create a well-balanced symphony of food.


Marcie Rothman - Food and Nutrition Consultant

Marcie Rothman has a thing about food.  She believes that fresh seasonal ingredients and simple cooking methods make good, fast, satisfying meals.  Her expertise spans more than 30 years in the field and includes television, radio, two cookbooks and a cooking video. She grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by good cooks, fresh seasonal produce, and hundreds of restaurants full of the ethnic cuisines she still turns to for inspiration.

In 1988, Marcie became The $5 Chef on Sacramento’s KOVR-CBS TV with her ability to put seasonal foods together in quick, easy and creative $5 meals that feed four. She continues occasionally to share her low cost shopping and cooking savvy on local and national television and radio.  

Long before it was fashionable, Marcie lectured at well-known health spas-- including Rancho La Puerta--on how to read labels, cut salt and use herbs and spices as flavor boosters. Her no nonsense, common sense style of cooking translates to lively, information packed lectures and classes. She has spoken to groups including the federally funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Programs in West Virginia and Washington DC among others. Marcie consults and creates recipes for Western Research Kitchens in Los Angeles, and periodically caters parties in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Her books include The $5 Chef:  How to Save Cash & Cook Fast. and The $5 Chef Family Cookbook  She is a contributor in Best of the Best from California Cookbook.   She wrote a column for years in The Sacramento Bee and occasionally in the Los Angeles Times.  She appears in the No-Brainers Quick & Easy Cooking video, based on her cookbooks and she wrote The College Gourmet, a booklet of quick tips for grocery shopping.  Marcie wrote “Restaurant Buzz” for San Diego’s online publication Voice of San Diego at www.voiceofsandiego.org as well as the restaurant column for San Diego City Beat, www.sdcitybeat.com. She was the food editor for OurCity: San Diego and currently writes her food blog  www.foodbuzzsd.com about San Diego’s food scene.

She studied cooking with such notables as Wolfgang Puck, Ken Hom and others.  She supports the San Francisco Professional Food Society, Toastmasters International, and the International Slow Food Movement and is a certified Barbecue Judge.

Marcie has a BA in Political Science from UCLA .and completed the Executive Program at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. She is an avid international traveler and amateur photographer.

Mary Coyne - Dietitian, Consultant

Mary Coyne (R.D., M.S.) is a registered dietitian and has a Master's Degree in the areas of dietetics, food science and nutrition and is a consultant on diet and fitness. She has been an independent consultant, specializing in developing and testing nutritional diets that are low in calories, fat and sodium, for a variety of Lee & Associates' clients. She also develops recipes for cookbooks.

Mary enjoys creating programs that involve her knowledge in the combined fields of nutrition, dietetics, food science and physical fitness, including the formulation and administration of activities that affect the health and nutritional knowledge of people. She also believes in the concept of "healthy body - healthy mind." This is why nutrition and physical fitness are such high priorities in her life. She is also (in her own words) "a fantastic cook!"

With all of the products on the market today with labels reading "low-fat," "non-fat," "fat-free," and so on, Mary offers advice on the differences between low-fat and non-fat foods and shares ideas on the subjects when appearing on TV and radio, or during interviews for newspapers.

Violet Coto – Ethnic Food Consultant

Grew up in Los Angeles, California. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Comparative Literature and Spanish Literature. Violet worked for Lee & Associates Public Relations and Marketing, and Western Research Kitchens for over four years, and continues to freelance for them while working as Development Associate and short-film writer and producer in Santa Barbara, California, while always being a “foodie.”

Violet has traveled throughout the world touring and learning yesterday’s and today’s kitchens. She collects and reinvents ancient and modern day recipes from Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Italy and Turkey, to name a few countries she’s visited. She worked with different food companies coordinating recipes and simple ways to prepare various food products for consumers – especially around the holiday time.

Today, Violet continues researching and enjoying different ethnic foods to help expand her knowledge of recipe development.

She’s always had a passion for food from around the world. She has learned different types of cooking methods and has shared them with family and friends. Now she enjoys it as part of her work at Western Research Kitchens, appearing on TV doing cooking demonstrations, featuring handy hints and elegant, yet, simple-to-prepare recipes of the agency’s clients’ products, with a unique, ethnic touch.

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