Hi everyone, I’m Shannon. I grew up in a middle class family with one younger brother in Northern New Jersey. When I was growing up, my parents would save as much money as they could so we could go on a nice family vacation every year and eat at a nice restaurant a few times a year. My brother and I would sit on the living room floor clipping $.25/off Campbell’s soup all January, knowing  that we were going away in July. My dad was famous for declaring it was “time to eat” about every 3 hours wherever we were and my love for different types of food was born.

In high school and college I found myself jumping at any opportunity to travel as often as possible and try new restaurants whenever my finances permitted. I am always the type of person who couldn’t just go to the same restaurant and order the same thing over and over. As soon as a new place opened up, I always want to be the first person to go there and tell everyone all about it.

Graduating from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was a temp employee at various places all over NYC, then I found what I thought was a fabulous job doing marketing for business conferences. “Do I get to travel to some of these conferences”? “Yes”. That’s all I needed to know. Sadly, this was 2007 and my position was quickly eliminated. I floated around for a few years and then enrolled in grad school where I earned an MBA in marketing and international business.

When I turned 23, I came across a position for a marketing coordinator for a small cheese company and the rest is history. I have been in food and beverage industry for 7 years now and I absolutely love it. I get excited walking through grocery stores and seeing what the latest food trends are; I never tire from working the Fancy Foods Shows in San Francisco and New York or a local food show. I love interacting with people in the food industry, because they are so passionate about their products and foods they love.

However, please don’t think the journey to get where I am now 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 I persevered and I never looked back.

Fast forward, I became a regional sales manager for another cheese company and was given very little direction besides, “go sell cheese.” I loved our cheese and was so passionate about it; customers could tell I loved my job. I would get so 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 local breweries. Kansas City has some of the best BBQ ever! I truly feel like you can connect with anyone through food.

Within the past two years I transitioned into an executive and strategic role in the seafood industry. The highlight of this job is the opportunity to travel to New Zealand twice a year. I was also provided with an opportunity to join a Seafood Leadership Conference this summer where we 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 really interesting and I feel like I finally found my true passion in life.

Through my current role, I have connected with chefs and restauranteurs. As a result, I have become extremely passionate about food in every aspect. I have had the opportunity to visit a few of the restaurants on the Top 50 list and truly believe it’s an experience everyone should do, at least once.

Know what your passion is and follow it wherever it may lead you. There’s nothing I enjoy more than traveling and trying food from different cultures, visiting new restaurants in NYC and having the head chef come over inquiring about my meal, or going to a winery and having the owner ask me my thought on the current vintage. I truly admire someone who is absolutely passionate about what they do. I hope to be able to share some of my passion for great food and traveling with others. Oh yeah and never stop believing in yourself!