Alyssa spent years as a schoolteacher, a principal and a therapist before she realized her true passion. It turned out to be something she was doing all along. “I decided I wanted to spend my time cooking,” she says.
As Assistant Kitchen Manager at our Belmont Market, Alyssa has ample opportunity to cook. Before coming aboard in 2019, she was looking for a better work-life balance and the chance to create scratch-made foods. “This place checks all those boxes,” she says.
As a teenager, her first job was as a short-order cook at a bowling alley. She learned a lot about cooking and serving customers, but she never imagined a career in the food industry. She went to college, became a teacher and then an administrator.
During her summer breaks, Alyssa worked as a chef at a farm in northern California, preparing meals for seasonal workers. She loved the atmosphere, being able to harvest fresh vegetables from a garden outside her door and then “bliss out on cooking all day every day,” she says.
After years of teaching and school administration, she returned to college, earned a psychology degree and became a therapist for veterans coping with post-traumatic stress. The work could be difficult, but it was rewarding.
Meanwhile, in her personal time, Alyssa was always cooking and picking up catering and private chef jobs. Then a traumatic experience brought everything into focus.
“I think where you have one of those crystallizing moments in your life, where something just really shakes you, it’s a good opportunity to focus on what’s really important and what you want to spend your time doing,” she says.
She became a full-time chef, traveling extensively and serving multiple high-end corporate clients. It was an invigorating life, but she longed to spend more time at home, in Portland, with her friends. That’s when she joined Market of Choice.
Alyssa started out as a Sous Chef but soon moved into a leadership role yet was able to maintain her skills and passion preparing foods. “That was important to me,” she says.
“I’m not willing to divorce myself from the part of my job that is fun, which is making food and seeing how happy it makes people,” she says.
Alyssa enjoys her Market’s atmosphere and the way the company makes it its mission to support local businesses while serving the community. One of the highlights has been the chance to prepare meals for families in support of Ronald McDonald House, she says.
“Even though this is a large company, it still has that local vibe,” she says.
When she’s not working Alyssa likes to shop at her Market, as well. She’s impressed by both the quality of the products and the expertise of her fellow employees. She knows she will get great advice, be it from a Cheesemonger, Beverage Steward or Butcher.
“The people who work here really are experts in their field,” she says. “These people know what they’re doing, and they share that knowledge to help you have the best shopping experience. I just love that about this place.”
Alyssa still has many opportunities to draw on her past experiences. For instance, she enjoys teaching new employees in the kitchen. “That’s honestly one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is being able to coach and develop other people’s skills,” she says.
It took time and a few different careers to get here, but Alyssa is glad to have found her place at Market of Choice.
“These things are perfect preparation for what I do now, to incorporate my passion for cooking,” she says. “My desire to do something meaningful, helping to develop other people’s talents, or give people something that makes them feel good – food.”