Frankie Whitman is the marketing director for Rubicon Bakers in Richmond, California.  She has had a long career in food and has worked in marketing for Peet’s, Scharffen Berger Chocolates, Niman Ranch, and a host of other Bay Area food brands.  Frankie currently is the Book SIG chair for the SFPFS and in the past held positions as the special events chair. An active member of Les Dames, she also served as the chapter lead for Slow Food and is the former executive director of Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs.

Frankie Whitman

When did you first decide you wanted to make food your career?
I have always been interested in food but when I was in high school, college and grad school, being a food professional was not an option. I went to public high school but it was college oriented and didn’t even offer home economics—not that I would have taken it.

I went to grad school at Cornell and even though they had an esteemed hotel school, I never considered it as an option. In grad school I was very involved in the local food co-op which was really a citywide food buying club. I wrote the weekly newsletter/order forms and did the weekly buying at the wholesale market in Syracuse, NY, 60 miles away. When I finished grad school I went to work at Moosewood Restaurant which was in its infancy.

How did you get where you are today in the food business?
Looking back on one’s career you can see patterns but when you are going through it, those connections seem more amorphous. I am a firm believer in the serendipity school of job finding. While I did not consciously plan the course of my career, in retrospect you can see the linkages.

Here’s a brief listing:

Farmer Liaison at Pike Place Market in Seattle
Marketing in Agriculture Department of King County, Seattle
Director of consumer goods cooperatives at a national trade association for cooperative businesses
Director of market at a specialty bank in Alaska that only loaned to the fishing and ag industries
Owner of a high end confectionary shop in Anchorage, Alaska
Executive Director of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs
Consultant/Special Projects with CUESA
Sourcing for Freshnex, an online portal for chefs and perishable goods
Marketing at Niman Ranch
Marketing at Scharffen Berger Chocolates
Marketing at FullBloom Baking Company
Marketing at Rubicon Bakers

What is your favorite food experience?
Hosting dinner parties

What advice do you have for young people who wanted a career in your field?

Marketing in the food world is changing rapidly. Right now social media is a very significant tool in reaching consumers. Who knows how long that will last. Supermarkets seem to be staying relatively safe in the retail world (as other retail categories are disappearing before our eyes), but, again, who knows if and when that will change (e.g. what does the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods mean for specialty food retailing). The one safe thing about food is that we will always need to eat.

Follow your interests and stay on top of trends. Even if something does not pay well, consider doing it if you like the work. You never know where it will lead.

What is your go-to recipe for entertaining?
I try new things for every entertaining event.

Where do you shop for food?
Berkeley Bowl

Frankie Whitman
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