Have you ever found yourself living a life that was driven more by the people or messages around you than by yourself? In Nick's story, we're struck by his natural sense of identity and adventure, which still managed to get put aside in order to fulfill outward expectations. We're not surprised that he found himself responding to a job posting from Sir Kensington's, a line of ketchup and condiments that defies expectation.
When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
I think that I "knew" from a very young age that I wanted to work in food. I grew up in a big family and my mom was always cooking and working in the kitchen and I was very drawn to that. As I grew older, went to college and was told that I needed to do something "viable", I lost touch with that passion. I worked a job in construction for 3 years after college and one day while talking to my closest friend she stopped me mid-sentence and said, "You need to work in food. It's what you always wanted to do, you just need to do it!" After that, the wheels began spinning, and six months later I quit my job and moved to New York City.
How did you get your current good food job?
I was living in NYC, working for a seafood distributor (a job I found through Good Food Jobs), and I was ready for a change in scenery. I was looking on GFJ under the Austin, Texas zip code and came across a posting for Sir Kensington's, a company based in New York but looking for someone in Austin. I loved their products and brand so I reached out saying "I live in NYC but am looking to move to Austin, I think I would be the perfect candidate, let's talk!" Luckily they responded and 2 days later I was sitting in their office for an interview. It was an experience as close to fate as I can imagine.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
My natural love for food, ingredient sourcing and agriculture makes my job feel much less like "work." The old adage "choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life" couldn't be more true. Waking up each day being stoked about what you'll be doing is a wonderful feeling.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your Good Food Job dream?
The biggest challenge was probably negative self-talk. Society is constantly telling you that you need to earn a certain amount, find job security, etc. Once you start believing that, it makes following your passions a little harder. It takes a certain amount of courage to follow your dreams, especially if they are less conventional. I have come to realize that doing what I love holds a higher personal value than material things.
Name one positive thing that a former employer taught you that you continue to appreciate?
I remember in my first job after college, I was just starting to manage a small team and my boss told me something very simple but very memorable: "praise in public, criticize in private." To this day, I make a point to praise other's accomplishments publicly.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
I think that we will see more and more companies finding clever ways to repurpose 'waste' or byproducts into usable goods. Being from California, I am very interested in agricultural methods that reduce water usage and hope to see continued innovation in that field. People are doing some really amazing things with hydroponics right now.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
I think work life balance is crucial to retaining employees and maximizing their effectiveness. Flexible vacation policies are a great way to reward employees.