Senior Vice President
Corporate and Educational Dining
Hometown: Masontown, Pa.
Education: B.S. in economics, University of Pennsylvania; culinary degree from CIA
First full-time job: Greenskeeper for a nine-hole golf course in western Pennsylvania
Married, two daughters
Charles LaMonica has what one might call a healthy obsession with cycling. His bicycle has taken him all over the country, while taking his mind far from the cares of the workaday world of contract foodservice. For the past six years, he’s even used his bicycle for a noble cause, to raise money for teens in crisis.
“Cycling is my form of golf. I’ve been cycling since college and have always done it as a pastime and a passion. When I started cycling it was a way to get around the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is a bike-friendly city, so it was a way to get some exercise and to get around as a college student at the University of Pennsylvania. Later, when I was a chef at the Breakers in Florida, I used to cycle to work every day, and I still cycle most days from my home to the train station in Princeton. So I’ve always taken that with me. It’s really become about exercise, about unwinding. It’s a tonic for the stress of our fast-paced business. I’ve always integrated cycling into my lifestyle.
In recent years, through my involvement with Anchor House, I have become much more dedicated to cycling.
Anchor House is shelter for runaway, homeless and abused teenagers. It is based in Trenton, N.J., and serves the greater Mercer County area. I learned about the organization through my church. They would come to Mass to try to raise funds. I heard these guys talking about these arduous rides of 500 miles in 7 days, and they talked about the cause they were riding for and I was intrigued by it. Riding 500 miles in seven days sounded like a lot of fun. It took me a couple of years to organize my schedule so I could do it, but six years ago I signed up for it and I’ve been doing it ever since.
The starting point for the road changes every year, but we always end up at the Quakerbridge Mall in Lawrenceville, N.J. Funds are raised through pledges. Every rider is required to raise a minimum of $750. The average rider raises $3,000, and last year we raised over half a million dollars. This year the ride starts in Harrisonburg, VA. It goes up the Blue Ridge to Front Royal, Va., then up through Hagerstown, Westminster and Aberdeen, Md., and through Lancaster, Pa.
I take my bike with me everywhere. I found the Cape Breton highlands up in Nova Scotia particularly spectacular. The roads there at the intersection of the mountains and the coast are incredible. There is wonderful wildlife and vistas that take your breath away—and hills, which always add to the fun.
The Olympic Peninsula is great cycling, and the coast of California is like cycling Nirvana, along the PCH going up from Santa Monica or down from the Monterey Peninsula. In general, the mountains and oceans combination makes for wonderful cycling.
I do some of my best thinking and reflection on the bicycle. You have a time when you are unfettered by any outside disturbances, and you can reflect on what’s going on and come up with game plans and resolutions to issues. It’s really the time I have the most clarity of mind.”