My background contains nothing overly exciting or unique. I am from a middle-class, two parent working family from northern New Jersey. We lived modestly, ate dinner together as a family, and went to soccer games every Saturday. My parents instilled a sense of work ethic in me. My dad also taught me never to accept “no” for an answer while living the mantra, “if you can dazzle them with brilliance, befuddle them with bullsh*t.” I guess that is where my desire to enter into a life of sales came from.
Growing up in northern NJ there is one type of food I knew the best: Italian. My parents rotated through the same three or four restaurants over the course of a month; all within a 5-10 minute drive of our house. The other constant that comes with growing up where I did and in an Irish family, the language spoken most often between family and friends was sarcasm. If you were not being sarcastic, nobody knew what you were talking about.
We portrayed your typical NJ family but I was anything but typical. I had a burning passion to always find new places, try new things, and meet new people. I never liked sitting in any particular “comfort zone” and I would jump on a new opportunity whenever possible.
While in college, everyone was settling into a new lifestyle of not being home, I was planning my semester abroad in Australia to experience a not only a new culture but to experience a new continent! Australia was not my first experience abroad but that was the catalyst for my desire and passion to see the rest of the world and experience everything it could offer.
When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just wanted to travel the world and eat. Unfortunately, desire for those things does cover the cost to actually partake in them.
I started my “career” as temp employee at various places all over NYC, then I found what I thought was a fabulous job doing marketing for business conferences. When asked in the interview if I had any questions, I said the only thing that was important to me: “Do I get to travel to some of these conferences?” All I heard was the reply, “yes”, and the salary, hours, or workload didn’t matter; that’s all I needed to know.
While changing jobs frequently, not feeling fulfilled and lacking passion for my work, I decided to enroll in grad school where I received my MBA in business marketing and international business, but no idea what I wanted to do besides travel as much as possible and try all kinds of food.
Opportunity arrived when I turned 23; I came across a position for a marketing coordinator for a small cheese company. I thought to myself, “I love cheese, all kinds of cheese; who doesn’t?!” I began working for the company and my journey towards a career in food began.
I have been in food and beverage for the last seven years and I am absolutely in love with my career, its not actually work. I love walking through grocery stores and seeing what the latest trends are, attending the Fancy Foods Shows in San Francisco and New York and I love interacting with people in the food industry; the people in food get so passionate about their products and foods they love. We all have an addiction with food and will defend our particular taste to anyone who challenges us.
Please don’t think the journey to get where I am currently was easy. At my first job, I begged my boss to let me travel more and work the trade shows for him. I was a young female in a middle aged male dominated industry. My bosses did not take me seriously, but refused to accept his “no” or anyone else’s; I cold called, I preserved and never looked back.
I became a regional sales manager for another cheese company and when I started I was given very little direction, besides, “go sell cheese.” I loved our cheese and was so passionate about it, people could tell I was not selling them something I did not genuinely enjoy.
My new job would take me across the country; while some people dread the airport, I would get excited about hopping on four planes in January, by myself, to get to Des Moines, but I loved it. While in Wisconsin, I would eat tons of local cheese and visit their breweries. Kansas City has some of the best BBQ I ever tasted!
In the midst of all this travel and “work” I was connecting with people; I truly feel like you can connect with anyone through food. I met suppliers, growers, producers, distributers, and other sales people; each one was passionate about their products and proved it over a good meal.
I have since transitioned into an executive role for an international seafood company. My tastes have changed and become more refined with respect to food and travel. I currently have the opportunity to travel to New Zealand twice a year. Back to the area of the world where I fell in love with exploring and wanting to see more.
I completed a Seafood Leadership Conference this summer where I visited Oyster facilities in Washington State, a Lobster facility in Northern Maine, an FDA facility in California and seafood distributors all along the West Coast. It was incredibly interesting to know the intricate details surrounding the foods we see everyday. I have also had the unique privilege of connecting with chefs and restauranteurs across the United States.
As a result, I have become obsessively passionate about food in every respect. The greatest “perk” to date is my being able to indulge in the perfection of six of the 14 restaurants in the United States with a coveted 3-Star Michelin rating. They are more than just food on a plate, they are experiences. They are the place where a chefs passion meets vocation and the guest experiences that true love.
Now that you know my purpose for this blog and a little about my background, my future posts will catalogue my culinary, work, and travel experiences. I could write a blog looking back at my experiences but I would rather look forward. My job would take me across the I truly admire someone who is absolutely passionate about what they do and I feel food is the best expression of real passion. I hope to be able to share some of my passion for great food and traveling with others while inspiring people to always step out of their comfort zone and experience some incredible things.