The governing board of NOCHI is composed of a blend of industry and civic leaders.

Ti Martin


Ti Martin is co-proprietor of The Commander’s Family of Restaurants, which includes Commander’s Palace, Picnic Provisions & Whiskey, SoBou, and Brennan’s (Houston). A renowned ambassador for New Orleans’ unique brand of hospitality and a self- proclaimed “cocktail chick,” Ti has written three cookbooks and released a new book and documentary about her mother, Ella Brennan, in 2017.

Dickie Brennan

Vice Chair

Dickie Brennan worked for two decades in kitchens all around the world and then proceeded to build a restaurant group that now includes Palace Café, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Bourbon House and Tableau. Dickie is an active member of the culinary and hospitality industry and currently serves on the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Board and National Restaurant Association Board.

Carol Markowitz


Carol Markowitz brings over 15 years of deep, multi-industry experience in strategic and financial planning and general management to the team. Carol was pivotal to the success of NOCHI’s bid for the former Louisiana ArtWorks building. She served as NOCHI’s founding Executive Director from 2014 to 2019 before transitioning into her role as treasurer.

George Brower


As managing member of Tax Credit Capital, LLC, George Brower has helped to facilitate $125+ million in commercial ventures including the Saenger Theatre and Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Amanda Aiken

A native of New York, Amanda Aiken has spent decades in various roles in the education sector. Currently, Amanda is the Senior Chief and Portfolio Officer for the Orleans Parish School Board and is the Founder and President of A.Leigh Solutions, an educational consulting group. Aiken’s expertise includes leadership development, teacher development, CMO strategy, recruitment, school turnaround, community relations, and the implementation of trauma informed/restorative discipline practices.

Wayne Baquet

Born and raised in a New Orleans restaurant family, Wayne M. Baquet, Jr. currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Trading Company, a nationally ranked Top 5 convenience store distributor which carries over 15,000 items including candy, full-line groceries, deli, frozen foods and beverages. 

David Blitch

With more than 35 years experience in the foodservice, hospitality and hotel business, David A. Blitch is a recognized leader in the hospitality industry in the state of Louisiana and founder of the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, a burgeoning nonprofit that has dispensed $1.5 million in aid to hospitality employees.

Edgar Chase III

Edgar Chase, son of the famed restaurateurs of Dooky Chase Restaurant, is a retired business educator — former Dillard University Vice President of Master Facilities and former Lead Faculty for Delgado University’s Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program — with deep expertise in accounting and finance.

Deborah Elam

After retiring from her dual role as General Electric’s Chief Diversity Officer and President of the GE Foundation, in 2017 Deborah Augustine Elam moved “home” to New Orleans, where she now runs Corporate Playbook, a business consulting firm that coaches leaders and organizations while elevating diversity, inclusion and philanthropy.

Barbara Mollere

After nearly 10 years with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), Barbara “Babs” Mollere has extensive experience in fundraising, community outreach and general operations for a major nonprofit in New Orleans.

Nicole Miller Regan

For more than 20 years, Nicole Miller Regan has been dedicated to elevating the importance and measurement of the role human capital plays in the success of restaurant and branded hospitality companies. Nicole is currently managing director and head of the consumer research practice at Piper Jaffray, a growth-focused investment bank. She serves as a member of The Society of Fellows of the Culinary Institute of America.

Michael Smith

Over the course of 40 years with Hyatt, Michael Smith has established himself as an expert in the hospitality and tourism industry and an innovative business leader and revered philanthropist in New Orleans. Among a large number of civic and philanthropic roles he serves, Smith is a Past Chairman of the Board for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Sean Tuohy

Sean Tuohy is an American sports commentator and restaurateur. He played college basketball at the University of Mississippi in the early 1980s, and is known for being the all-time assist leader in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Tuohy, his wife Leigh Anne, and his family are a subject of Michael Lewis’ 2006 book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and its 2009 feature film adaptation, The Blind Side. The book and subsequent film are based on the Tuohys’ raising of National Football League player Michael Oher.

©2019 New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute