AMIE VALPONE

CULINARY MARKETING CONSULTANT, PUBLISHER OF EASY EATS, FOUNDER OF THE HEALTHY APPLE BLOG

Amie’s story of taking a personal diet limitation and turning it into a passionate career sounds like a dream for many of us. But what we love about her experience is that it isn’t sugarcoated. Amie had a successful corporate job but chose a harder, less glamorous path, motivated entirely by the desire to do something she loved, even when it found her with less money and more uncertainty. Sometimes there is no knowledge more valuable than being sure of what you don’t want to do.

What attracted you to a good food job?

It all started while working in several corporate jobs in Manhattan. My jobs were ‘glamorous’ to everyone but me. I loved the idea of my jobs,  but at the end of the day, I was neither fulfilled nor inspired.

I became interested in food and nutrition when I was faced with gluten and dairy intolerance.  I went back to school to study Nutrition and spent my days, nights and weekends walking the aisles of Whole Foods Market and health food stores throughout Manhattan, jotting down names of brands and researching new products that I could eat.

I’ve always enjoyed marketing and I’m a people person- so I knew I needed to be working with the end client and create a balance between business and creativity for myself.  I started my blog, The Healthy Apple over three years ago and since then, it’s grown into so much more. At first, I blogged every day, but I soon realized what my passions were and I started working with my favorite food brands, traveling to speak at conferences, expos and press events where I met some of the most amazing foodie people. This is how The Healthy Apple came to be.

Every day, I meet someone new and every day, I learn something new. I now blog twice a week because I write for several websites and publications including WebMD, Skinny Bitch and the Manhattan Gluten-Free Examiner.  I’m also a brand ambassador for companies which sees me traveling all over the country for expos and events, meeting fans that love the products and working with them. I love tapping into my creative side to create recipes for companies and coming up with fun, added-value, out-of-the box marketing ideas and ways I can help them generate buzz and build awareness around their brand. I’m a buck full of energy and I’m a little ‘Energizer Bunny’ so they say.

I realized this was my passion when I’d sit home on Friday and Saturday nights writing my blog, researching companies and coming up with creative strategies to work with them.  Before I knew it, it would be 1:00AM but I was fired up and on a roll because I loved what I was doing.  I decided on this specific spin as a culinary marketing consultant because my repertoire is in a variety of things, including conference presenter, brand ambassador, food store tours and pantry makeovers, recipe creator, publisher of an online gluten-free magazine and brand consultant for companies in the food and beverage industry.

How did you get your current good food job?

I created my blog, The Healthy Apple through years of networking, attending conferences, expos and events where I wasn’t afraid to call/email people until they responded (Editor’s Note: That’s how we met Amie. See, it works!). I never gave up and I still never will.

Along with The Healthy Apple, I recently launched an online gluten-free magazine, ‘Easy Eats’ with my good friend who launched ‘Everyday with Rachel Ray’ Magazine as the Editor in Chief.  She is amazing; an inspiration to me every day and I love working with her.  We were at an event, where I introduced myself, kept in touch and created a wonderful relationship with her because she asked me to be the publisher of our beautiful online magazine. It just goes to show, the more you go after what you love, and the more you network, the happier you will be and success will come.

Are there days when I thought I was going to hit rock bottom and be broke? Of course. Were there days when I asked myself why I sat home networking on a Friday night? Definitely. But, now I realize those connections lead me to become a brand ambassador, which led me to the event where I met my Easy Eats business partner, which led me to becoming the publisher of Easy Eats. And there is nothing better than working with a great friend and role model; that simply is way I wake up smiling every day.

How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?

Working in advertising, design and marketing was a great foundation for me starting The Healthy Apple and Easy Eats. I’ve used a combination of my experience in business and creativity to piece together my strengths, my weaknesses and my passions. I learned a lot about myself in corporate America and most importantly, learned what I needed to do to get myself to a happy point, and then success followed. I’m a firm believer that if you’re not happy, there’s no job is the world that is worth it. There is more to life than making money.  I don’t define success in terms of how much money one has. To me, that’s just not what it’s all about.  I wasn’t scared to pursue my true passion-and that’s why I’m where I am today.  I found it helpful to keep a notepad with me at all times so I could write down inspiration as I witnessed it.

What advice do you have for others in search of good food jobs?

Don’t let obstacles get in your way. Never give up if you are on a path to reaching your goals and pursuing your passions. There will always be barriers, but keep your head up and stay positive.  Something good comes out of everything. I used to wonder what I was going to do with the rest of my life and wonder if I’d be stuck in a 9-5 desk job forever. I looked around and realized that wasn’t the life I wanted to live; I wanted something different and I made it happen; I am making it happen.

If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money; what would it be?

Organic veggies. I simply can’t get enough of ‘em.  There’s nothing like a fresh Jersey tomato, creamy zucchini and an extra ripe avocado. Perfection.