Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. My love and passion for cooking and curiosity around food has really shaped the evolution of my career. I started in the food industry as a server and worked my way into a kitchen. Then I quickly found myself going to school for the culinary arts in an agriculturally rich area of North Carolina. After working in restaurants and graduating from culinary school, I started yearning for my home state of California and the rich, established food movement in the Bay Area. Upon my return, I found myself drawn to the world of cheese. This was my first introduction to the specialty food industry. I fell in love, and I started the next phase of my education and career. As time went on, I was intrigued by the agricultural side of cheese and soon left the cheese counter to work on a dairy goat farm back in North Carolina. Soon, I was running a kitchen in the Pisgah national forest for an outdoor school where I planted and cultivated vegetables for meals. After I managed kitchens, I found myself in Salt Lake City where I managed a specialty foods store, Liberty Heights Fresh, and worked on the Slow Food board. I wanted then to go into buying as a career. I ended up running into someone here at Market Hall Foods almost four years ago. There was a position opening, and I took it to be groomed to be a senior buyer. I was handed an incredible opportunity to be head of the charcuterie program, and now I oversee our import program, purchasing, produce and everything that is grocery and charcuterie related. I also work with our sister companies for procuring product, as well.
Q. What positions have you held in industry associations?
A. Board of SLC Slow Food Chapter, Good Food Foundation Member and Trend Spotting for the Specialty Food Association.
Q. What is your leadership philosophy?
A. It’s really important to me to identify strengths of the people I work with and utilize and grow those strengths. We work as a team, and everyone feels supported in their careers and shares the general philosophy of food and protecting our food system.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?
A. Go after what you want to do, even if you’re terrified and only know a part of the job. I came upon the advice, fail harder and faster, in a book a picked up several years ago at a point in my life where I was struggling with what my next step was going to be in the industry. At that time, I felt like I had failed everything so reading this changed my perspective on failure. Instead of fearing failure, I started to embrace it and take chances on myself. My life started to reshape itself, and now they are words I try to live by every day,
Q. How do you balance your work and personal life?
A. I think this is challenge for a lot of people currently in our world. Technology has really given us such great advantages, but it also robs us of a little bit of peace and quiet. Every day, I try to do something for myself. It can be meditation, walking, hiking, stretching or just talking with a friend. I always am checking in with myself and my mental health to make sure I am taking the time I need to nourish myself.
Q: What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?
A. I think the biggest trends are grab-and-go and prepackaged items. We’re seeing an increase in producers providing that and, in turn, customers wanting a quick option. People want to get in and out of places versus waiting in line.
Q: What have been the biggest changes in the deli industry over the course of your career?
A. One change is accessibility to specialty products across the country. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked in this industry, people now have more access to specialty products either at their local grocer or online.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome on the job?
A. I would say merging current technology into the workplace. I think small businesses in general are facing a new phase of technological options to operate their business, and there is a challenge to incorporate the old with the new. It can be difficult to find what is most efficient and the best use for your return We’re always talking with other companies to find out how they’re incorporating technology to better manage inventory.
Q: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
A. Gardening, hiking, cooking, traveling and creating art.