Meet SFPFS Member and culinary consultant Rosemary Mark

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Rosemary excels at incorporating intriguing, approachable flavors in practical and accurate recipes for home cooks and foodservice. Client projects have addressed health topics such as: increasing omega 3-fatty acid consumption with innovative walnut recipes for the California Walnut Board; and designing child-centric frozen vegetable dishes for a supermarket chain. She has produced inventive recipes for new flavors of Dreyers and Haagan-Dazs® and conceived delectable uses for pantry staples like Sun-Maid dried fruit and Del Monte vegetables. Other clients include Driscoll’s, Safeway, The Ginger People, Idaho Potato Commission, and The Walnut Board.

Her food blog www.getcookingsimply.com  from ‘Rosie’s Kitchen’ shares delicious healthful recipes and cooking tips. Rosemary’s passion for creating recipes revolves around the importance and enjoyment of dining as part of a healthy lifestyle.

 When did you first decide you wanted to make food your career?

When I was a high school sophomore I wrote to a few women’s magazine food editors – Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, Good Food, Redbook –  and told them my favorite hobby was cooking and asked how to work in recipe development and testing. They all replied and I still have the letters! They said to take chemistry and organic chemistry in high school then study Home Economics in preparation for a career with food companies, PR agencies, magazines or supermarkets. Some said to study journalism which I regret to this day that I didn’t do! (PS – Dianne Jacob, I needed your coaching!)

How did you get where you are today in the food business?

I interned with the California Egg Board after graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Home Economics and Business. For five years I did sales and marketing for a fresh egg distributor called Rebecca Farms Eggs – I was called the Egg Lady! My first free-lance recipe project was with Golden Grain Pasta in 1993, through a Home Economist colleague. At Golden Grain I met (current) SFPFS member Mary Margaret Sinnema with whom I still do projects for at Del Monte. Relationships can shape a career for many years!

Over the years through networking and outreach I developed clients including Sun Diamond, Sun-Maid, Safeway, Driscoll’s, The Walnut Board, Basic American Foods and others. 

What is your favorite food experience? 

It is hard to choose.  But one that comes to mind was the longest I ever waited for a meal.  We waited 2.5 hours with the most beautiful beachside view in Cape Coast, Ghana, at a rustic café run by a Ghanaian man and Croatian woman. I’m sure we were waiting for them to catch our fish because it was the most delicate and best flavor I’ve ever had with their traditional tomato and pepe pepper sauce. My mouth waters writing this!

What is the most exciting thing going on in food right now, in your opinion?

I like that people are interested in fresh clean cooking. Cooking takes planning or what I call a mental cookbook, but doesn’t need to be complicated to prepare healthful tasty food. I also really like the growing trend that consumers and companies care about the social and environmental impact of their business. I particularly noted this at the Fancy Food show this year and wrote about it here

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

Consider areas beyond cooking including ingredient and food product sales, and ingredient supply chain, where culinary knowledge can be used for marketing and brand support. Also think about whether you want to turn your hobby into a career. There’s pros and cons to that.

What cookbook could not live without?

I use the internet much more than books but at the moment I am deeply into Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast book and am loving the breads I bake with his formulas.

What is your go-to recipe for entertaining?

Don’t have one! Guests are usually my recipe taster/testers, or I’m trying out a new idea, or a recipe I’ve read somewhere.  A lot of my favorite recipes are on my blog www.getcookingsimply.com

Where do you shop for food (could split by proteins vs. veggies)?

Mostly Trader Joe’s and my Riverdog Farm CSA box.

What project are you working on today and how will it impact your career/business? 

I’m working on product concept innovation and benchtop development for a major national brand product line extension. I’ll announce what it is, when/if it hits supermarkets! How it impacts my career is that I’d like to continue to work more with product concept innovation. I’m also revamping a classic potato recipe called Utah Funeral Potatoes for Idaho Potato Commission into a relevant signature recipe for them.

Are you involved with a food non-profit? If so, which one and what do you do?

Most recently involved with the SFPFS non-profit! Over the past 3 years have worked with Cake4kids.org in event support.

What chefs or blogs do you follow? 

I read TheKitchn.com regularly and am totally impressed with how their on-line format has developed in a short time. Clear, on-trend, and usable content with excellent visuals.

Have you held SFPFS board positions in the past?

My first board position was 1989-90 as secretary. Prior to that I was on the founding committee for the small group food tours with Susan Patton-Fox. Later I was directory chair, again chaired small group tours and SIGS, then joined Gayle Massey as co-chair when she did a second term in 2015 and supported Lesley Stiles in 2016. I’ve always felt I gained by being involved and meeting members as we work together.

What have you gained (or would like to gain) from being a member of the SFPFS?

The many connections can never be replaced as resources for client projects, culinary knowledge, and camaraderie with food professionals.  We have a unique network that sometimes takes time to develop but the only way that can happen is with continued participation with the Society. Pretty much any time I have a culinary or business question, there is someone in the Society I can ask or they can refer someone to me.

And recently this network extended to my daughter in her international job search related to food security (thank you Michele Hennessey, Jo Lynne Lockley, John Wiest). She is now working in Ghana and Sub Saharan Africa in renewable energy and agricultural development programs.

I’ve always said that as member I attend events as much as possible, if we don’t participate there isn’t a membership. And I try to reciprocate in helping others with what they need. We’re in this together and joined the Society to meet and connect!