One of my best pandemic projects was an accident. While it was not an accident that I applied and got accepted to a stellar food business master’s degree at my alma mater, The Culinary Institute of America, but it was an accident that the 2 years mostly occurred during the pandemic. This MPS degree, awarded on August 12th, 2021, gives me a big edge. Bigger than my Mac knives or Phase One Camera for sure!

The knowledge I received through the program, professors, guest speakers, and cohorts is a game-changer not only for my business but for all whom I serve.

Some of the most important takeaways:

  1. Determining what makes me competitive. For me it is the fact that I can culinary direct, create content, and tell a story with my images. Most studios have to hire gobs of people for that and in today’s world, a lean creative stands out.
  2. But I also understand how to see and promote the features of my customers’ products to make them more competitive. This is gained through a deep dive into Michael Porter’s philosophy about what helps you stand out.
  3. Creating and understanding the collaborative message versus the transactional message. This has never been more important than now with all of the social media channels.
  4. Sustainability is a subject near and dear to my heart. The knowledge and values I have acquired now permeate everything I do. I strive to save resources, to serve companies that do good, and to offer value to my customers. There is also the desire to make purchases that are more mindful and to have a more sustainable kitchen and studio.
  5. Branding for food is so important. It is a lot more than colors, garnishes, and props. We took a deep dive into all of the innovative companies today to discover what is driving their success and innovation and it is definitely the way they position their brands. One of my professors is from Cliff Bar while another is from Edelman. We studied many different trends along with Kellogg and the book on how to create less friction.
  6. Social media and the CIA’s conferences were so much a part of our studies. I am thrilled when I get to work on social media campaigns because I understand the importance of their connection with consumers and I love their speed and trendiness coupled with branding and innovation. Many influencer guest speakers in food came to our classes and conferences. Favorites include Dirt Candy, Single Thread, Thomas Keller, Michael Minta, Domininque Crenn, and more. Not to mention that my classmates are from Boars Head, food science labs, Campbells Soup, and Unilever.
  7. Design thinking taught me to take apart the final set that the customer loves and create one more amazing image. It is usually a show stopper. Never settle for ordinary and always think out of the box. Break it to make it! I love the new prototyping skills that I learned. My moodboards are very different than a treatment where a photographer things they have to do a lot of work on their vision. I am all about finding the client’s vision so I can make every shoot a big yes on the first go.

Can’t wait to knock your socks off with content going into 2022. Hit me up if you want to collaborate! The book is filling for fall and winter. Video and stop motion animation are in the works and a new content creation studio is coming!