My background and career
Although I was born in Orillia, Ontario, and spent a few of my early years in Clearbrook, B.C., I grew up mostly in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1980, I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Home Economics in Food and Nutrition.
My first job was as a nutrition consultant at a weight loss clinic in Winnipeg that performed targeted toning with muscle stimulation therapy. I wondered about this form of “activity” as a long-term exercise plan, but it was a paying job and I rationalized that the clients were receiving excellent nutrition advice!
After a few months at the clinic, I landed a job in southern Manitoba as an Extension Home Economist for the provincial department of agriculture. The position came with a car which was needed for all the rural travelling. In this role, I organized and taught cooking, nutrition, and home-skills courses and worked with 4-H groups in the communities in my region. I also wrote a weekly column on nutrition, home, and family topics for the local newspaper.
Three years into the job, I got married and moved to Norway House, a First Nation reserve in northern Manitoba, where my husband was teaching. There I did some supply teaching and met frequently with another teacher’s wife to practice our “gourmet cooking” skills.
We moved to Cranberry Portage, another northern Manitoba community, two years later. My husband taught in the high school and I found part-time work as a Community Liaison Officer, working with school committees in three northern communities. During this time, I started FoodWise Consulting, teaching weight control courses and microwave cooking classes, and writing a 4-H project manual called Living On Your Own.
After four years, we left the north to move to Kitchener where my husband had accepted a teaching job and we hoped I’d find a job suited to my skills and interests. I’d been a member of the Manitoba Association of Home Economists since my university days and knew the value of belonging to a professional organization, so soon after moving to Kitchener, I joined OHEA and the Waterloo Wellington Home Economics Association (WWHEA).
I met home economist Pat Hughes at a WWHEA meeting. She was writing a daily recipe column for The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo’s newspaper) and needed help since her writing partner, Eleanor Cameron, was not well. I worked with Pat for over a year, learning the techniques of recipe writing and development. When Eleanor passed away, Pat decided to retire from a long and successful career of food writing for The Record.
With Pat’s recommendation, the Lifestyles editor invited me to continue writing for the newspaper, changing the format to a longer weekly feature that included an image of one of the recipes. I wrote the Creative Cooking column for almost 14 years, each week bringing one of the prepared recipes and assorted props to the newspaper’s studio to be photographed. I learned food and prop styling skills as I went along.
For three years after moving to Kitchener, I taught Grades 7 to 10 Family Studies in the private school where my husband worked. Through my FoodWise business, I also did some restaurant reviewing and product sampling demos during that time.
In 1995, a job posting in the OHEA or OHEIB newsletter (I’ve forgotten which!) caught my eye. It was for a Nutrition and Marketing position at Ontario Egg Producers, now Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO). This led to a 16 year position with EFO promoting the wonderful attributes of eggs through recipe and resource development, cooking videos, media appearances, consumer events and shows, blogging, and the creation of a cookbook of egg farmers’ favourite recipes.
Since leaving EFO in 2011, I’ve done contract work that has included recipe editing, development and nutritional analyses; recipe writing instruction; media appearances; social media and website writing; teaching cooking classes; resource development; and event planning for various clients (the egg industry and other agricultural groups, food companies, cooking schools, and restaurants). I’ve enjoyed participating as a judge for the Taste Canada Awards.
These days, I’m also making time for travelling with my semi-retired husband, hiking, reading, volunteering, sampling as much chocolate as possible, and finding the best places for afternoon tea!
Involvement in OHEA
I’ve been a member of OHEA since moving to Ontario in 1990. When I initially joined, I knew a membership would be a great way to network, learn about job openings, and hopefully find a successful career within the profession. As the years have passed, I’ve kept up my membership in order to stay in touch with what’s going on in my profession and to maintain connections and friendships.
I’ve held Executive positions with both OHEA (Membership Chair) and WWHEA (Secretary and Program Chair).
Impact of OHEA and being a P.H.Ec .
My membership in OHEA has been the foundation for personal relationships, business connections, and the career I’ve enjoyed. As I mentioned, I learned about the job at EFO through a home ec newsletter. After being offered the job, I called home economist Clare Jones, who was leaving the position, to ask her some candid questions about the job and EFO. I didn’t know Clare at the time, but with our shared professional background, I had faith she answered my questions honestly.
During my time at EFO, I used my network of home ec colleagues to hire help with recipe development, consumer marketing, food styling, and resource development.
As a self-employed P.H.Ec., referrals by other P.H.Ecs have resulted in work contracts. I’ve been pleased to recommend colleagues for work I’ve been unable or unqualified to do.
When I organized the 2018 Food and Nutrition Forum for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, I was grateful for the support of OHEA and P.H.Ec. friends in helping to make the event happen.
I am proud to be a Professional Home Economist and a member of a diverse, supportive, and talented group of people dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families through education and skills development.
A recipe to share!
Crème brulee is a favourite dessert of mine. And it’s easy to make! Here’s a great recipe from a project with Egg Farmers of Canada. https://www.eggs.ca/recipes/creme-brulee