Being a writer is at the absolute core of who I am, and I knew from an early age that I wanted to pursue a career in writing.

My very first taste of being paid for writing was in high school, when the Daily Herald, a newspaper in the Chicago suburbs, hired me to cover local city board meetings and local cultural events. I loved taking notes on my steno pad, interviewing people, and staying up late typing up my stories to file them before the paper went to print. And the thrill of seeing my byline on the pages of the newspaper was undeniable.

At the University of Illinois, I studied English Rhetoric, with a concentration in magazine journalism. It was there that I pitched and wrote my first piece for a magazine: a feature about canine dental health for Dog World magazine. I also was active on the Daily Illini, the University of Illinois’ award-winning newspaper, working as a news reporter at first and working my way up to penning my own weekly column. My time at the DI instilled in me the importance of accuracy, unbiasedness, and coffee.

Applying for dozens of jobs after graduating from college was eye-opening, but I finally landed one at a gourmet food trade magazine. I didn’t know much about food at the time, but my years working as an editor for that magazine and its sister title for chefs and restaurateurs set me up for a career as a food writer. After moving to New York City and working as an editor for a venerable weekly trade magazine for the home furnishings industry, HFN, I decided to strike out on my own as a freelance writer.

Around this time I also completed the Career Culinary Arts Program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, ending with an externship under Jonathan Waxman at his Greenwich Village restaurant Washington Park. Studying at ICE gave me a solid foundation in culinary fundamentals and the confidence to develop recipes. It made it possible for me to develop hundreds of recipes for the nine cookbooks I’ve written as well as for other outlets, including Clean Eating, About.com, SouthernLiving.com, Pilates Style, Tasting Table, and more. I’ve also parlayed my culinary expertise to teaching cooking lessons to individuals and groups both privately and for Cooks Warehouse, an Atlanta-based kitchenware store.

One of my favorite parts of being a writer is learning about new things. While food and cooking will always be my first loves, I now consider myself an expert on a variety of topics, including home furnishings, sustainability, commercial real estate, interior design, and more. Through my writing career, I’ve judged a hot and spicy food contest in Albuquerque, toured an olive oil factory in Italy, tasted wines in Walla Walla, and visited the IKEA headquarters in Sweden. I can’t wait to see where my work takes me next!

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