How I Turned My Love for Food into a Business & Grew a Following

My earliest food memories both have to do with chocolate and my grandmothers. I remember driving with my mom to San Antonio as a five-year-old to see her parents. Her mom, Mater, would have Blue Bell Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream and foil wrapped Hershey’s Kisses waiting for me, and I’d run straight to the pantry for my reward. At big family dinners and birthday parties with my dad’s side of the family, we were always eating Grandmother’s “Special Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing” (that’s what my dad named it). I’ve still never seen a sheet cake like it! For my birthday in elementary school, my mom would make yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing (Duncan Hines is still the best) and decorate them with those cool silver ball sprinkles for my entire class. Then, she had a full cake for me at home to celebrate with my family. I would have a little slice with breakfast for the whole week as I have clearly been taught to love dessert since I was born! 

Fast forward to summer before senior year of college in New York City. I moved up there for a two month fashion PR internship where I worked on projects like the TV show Gossip Girl and Omega Watches. I kept my maroon Zagat restaurant guide book in my bag at all times and highlighted all the places I dined. I remember this chocolate chip cookie article in The New York Times came out while I was there in 2008,  and I raced over to Levain. Their six-ounce chocolate chip cookie was the thickest I had ever seen, and I had TWO which is NOT normal (see me with it in my NYU dorm below). I still remember being too full to eat my bowl of pasta at Bar Pitti that night. It was the best cookie I had ever had (until I found City Cakes)! I was labeled as the Levain girl for several years because I talked about it so much before Instagram came along and helped make it a household name.

Since the only PR experience I had was that internship, when I got back to UT Austin, I signed up for a class my last semester in the Communications School. I knew that I wanted to move back to New York and work at a firm that focused on hospitality and restaurants, so I called my cousin Marc Glosserman, who owns Hill Country Barbecue in the city, to see if PR for restaurants was even a thing. He immediately connected me to Baltz & Co. and I moved there for a paid internship June 25, 2009 (while watching Michael Jackson’s death live on Jet Blue- that was wild). My first week, I had to write a pitch to the local media about the new grilled cheese at Stanton Social, and I knew immediately this was the job for me! Since this was during the recession, the only job I could get was working at a firm with some tech clients, Dr. Oz, and it was NOT fun. I had three different bosses who didn’t communicate with each other, and I had to write a Yahoo! Advertising report that made me whimper because I had no idea what it was talking about. Luckily I got fired (although I did burst into tears on the street while walking home). I then emailed Quinn & Co. who I saw had a job opening in the Food, Wine & Spirits division two months prior that I had wanted to apply for anyway and got it within two weeks! It was here in the summer of 2011 that I started my restaurant review website Chekmark Eats.

My clients at Q&C were hotels in the Maldives and restaurants in Chicago, and I wanted to connect with NYC and where I was actually eating, so I wrote 5 nights a week about where I ate, what to order, who to bring, etc. It was a creative outlet especially when I stopped enjoying my day job. In 2012, I was featured on Huffington Post as one of the Best NY Food Blogs. I remember running into my roommate Tracy’s room late Thursday night to ask if she knew what was going on. My Google Analytics were blowing up. How did this happen?! I was in good company with Eater, New YorkMagazine’s Grub Street, Tasting Table, and Infatuation. This set me on fire and kept me motivated to keep up with my new audience and my writing so that people would keep coming back for more! I then somehow got to speak on a panel with an editor at Zagat that was put on by the magazine Edible Manhattan. I loved the food scene in NYC so much and really wanted to connect with the industry in person through my PR work, so I switched firms to spend the next three years at SHADOW PR. I worked with high-end, celebrity-filled restaurants and nightclubs like CATCH, The General, Abe & Arthur’s and Morgans Hotel Group’s Hudson, Mondrian Soho, Royalton hotels. The owners, Brad & Lisette, made work so much fun. They treated us as equals while sharing so much knowledge about the industry.

My first week on the job, I managed a taping for Keeping Up with the Kardashians. This is when I first learned who they were as I watched a posse of humans waiting outside CATCH in the Meatpacking District screaming. They literally ate fried shrimp and sushi like normal people…. I usually didn’t know who any of the celebrities were and had to study a Facebook sheet right before because I only knew who chefs and editors were! I was more star struck when I saw Chef Marcus Samuelsson in the West Village than when I met Ross from Friends while watching Pharell sing at Finale. Over the years, I was able to see Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea perform, Katie Holmes twirl around in her Zac Posen dress during Fashion Week, and attend a private Passion Pit concert with about 40 people in Brooklyn. Oh yeah, and one time we had to work at event at The Darby with Jane Fonda and Andy Cohen. I was standing in the walk-way and my leg was out a big when Jane Fonda tripped over my foot and I caught her immediately— good thing I always have had good reflexes. Randee and I snuck out of work one day to watch Jay-Z put on a show for his song Picasso in an art gallery my friend worked at. Aside from all this, I learned so much about how to craft a story, make clients happy, and be creative with the chefs and people that already had so much going for them. Instagram had started getting popular and I quickly befriended other food focused ‘grammers like EatingNYC, Rayna Greenberg, NoLeftovers, and BrunchBoys. I thought inviting them to try the restaurants I worked with and creating small events for them to attend would be an additional and different way to gain press and notoriety than just traditional media and no one else was doing this at the time. At SHADOW, I  helped Thiago Silva, the pastry chef at EMM Group, win several awards and raise his profile to get onto cooking shows. My boss and role model, Randee, taught me how to eat, introduced me to chefs and writers, and made me feel so welcome and confident in the food world that really is so small in NYC. I learned how to deal with a lot of egos, late nights, but the hard work and experiences were all so exciting!


By 2015, I wanted to try out working with more James Beard style chefs like Marc Forgione and restaurants that would catch the eye of Bon Appetit and Food & Wine editor-in-chiefs. I called Jesse who I interned for back at Baltz & Co in 2009 because he was working at The Door which had all this kind of clientele. He saw my passion for the food world and that I could bring a lifestyle rolodex to the table from SHADOW. I was ready to learn a different side of media contacts and a month later, he called to say they had a position for me! What timing! While I was there, I worked to open Quality Eats and got Black Seed Bagel a profile in The Wall Street Journal by having them make their first Indian flavored bagel with a chef I had met from Babu Ji. Making connections fit and then seeing them in print at some of the top publications was where I really saw myself shine.

Next, I was ready to work in-house and grow directly with chefs and restauranteurs. I would always get this feeling when I felt like I needed to explore a new side of the business and even though I loved ALL of my jobs, I knew when it was time to grow and move on. I wanted to be a part of the whole process not just the PR and marketing for the opening and then a year after. I wanted to build a brand from start to finish and help have a say in developing ideas, menu items, design, and more. I wanted to give my all to one group instead of work with 10 clients at a time and just be their “publicist.” I decided to look back at home in Texas after I went to a friend’s wedding in Ecuador and really loved being back outside in the wilderness with so many Texas friends. I heard about McGuire Moorman Hospitality in Austin (now MML) and reached out to one of the founders, Larry McGuire, through their website to see if he’d be interested in an in-house PR person. He ended up coming to NYC a few weeks later and called me to meet him. We met at Café Select, and as I shared what kind of role I was looking for, he simultaneously let me know that was exactly what he wanted. I thought I had made up the words he was saying back to me because it seemed so perfect! I sent him a job description that night of what value I could bring to the team and two weeks later he offered me a job and moved me out of New York City. 

I remember I was eating pizza at Roberta’s in Brooklyn with a client whose cookbook tour we were launching that day. I read the job offer email in the bathroom and looked in the mirror thinking, ‘I AM MOVING TO AUSTIN AND LEAVING NYC?’ It was a shock to everyone as I had been in NYC the longest out of all my Texas friends and everyone always saw on my face or my blog how much I loved it. So yes, after 7.5 years, I scooped myself up and moved back to Austin to work for the best and fastest growing restaurant group in the city. It was such a delight to be in-house and everything that went into the growth of the brand, management, design, and hospitality. It was the exact job I was looking for, and it felt so great to be home! I learned everything PR and food related in NYC and everything design and operations related at MML. I had lunches and dinners weekly to immerse myself into the Austin community. I helped launch the Elizabeth Street Café Cookbook campaign in Austin and with a special lunch in NYC, helped with the opening for Pool Burger, took a trip to Aspen for Food & Wine, and raised the profile of each executive team member in the press. There was so much synergy between NYC and Austin that anytime an editor or chef came to visit, they would call me, and I’d set them up at one of the restaurants or create an event for the community to enjoy like Colu Henry’s Backpocket Pasta cookbook lunch at Jeffrey’s. I even got to collaborate on a new ice cream cone dessert at June’s All Day with pastry chef Jen Tucker. I had really missed babka and no one here knew what it was, so we made a babka ice cream cone that sold out every day for two weeks!

In July 2018, I went out on my own and started working for myself with Richard’s Rainwater as my first client followed by Picnik, Thai Fresh, New Waterloo’s Il Brutto, and the launch of Vixen’s Wedding (with Todd & Jess from Lenoir) which I helped get on Pat Sharpe’s Best Restaurant List for Texas Monthly within my first year in business. I was working endlessly as I made a spreadsheet of everyone I knew in Austin and continued to update it with notes after meetings about their brand or other people they knew to introduce me to. I still use this spreadsheet to keep my contacts organized and check in with people that fascinate me. I messaged a few people that I was dying to work with over Instagram to ask to meet for coffee and that’s how I got myself in front of them and eventually won certain accounts—I literally just said hello and asked if we could meet so I could learn more about them. Never underestimate a hello or putting yourself out there! As business went on, I found different ways to make things work if there was ever a “no” to start or a “not right now.” I’d always circle back with a new idea or try something I hadn’t thought of originally if something didn’t sell or an article didn’t land. I was so excited to meet everyone in the restaurant industry and my goal was to meet everyone in town that I could try to help or if they didn’t make sense as a personal client to still have them in the back of my head for future collaboration ideas that would eventually make a good fit for all of us. I remember being on a date at Nickel City and talking to the bartender about how she should try out Richard’s Rainwater for the bar. My date said, “Wow you are quite the hustler.” HA! Too much, maybe, but my point in sharing is that I truly love what I do and at that moment I couldn’t help but connect the dots in my head and try to share the brand. I still love that water so much and buy two cases a month (100 bottles) even though we aren’t working together. 


I have continued to write about the culinary scene in Austin on Chekmark Eats for the last five years with an added touch of travel guides, so no matter where you venture off to, you have my recs on where to eat, drink, sleep, play. You can see that I’m an avid morning mile swimmer at Barton Springs, and I love the Austin outdoor culture, so there is plenty of info in this department as well. When people ask how I’ve built my brand, my first thought is really just–I LOVE DOING THIS! I have always had an equal interest in food as I do for people, their stories, their best friends (people used to make fun of me because I would always ask who their best friend was for some reason), how they got to where they are in their career and even relationship. It’s true that when my mom would drive me to school in the morning, I would ask her what every person’s name was that we passed on the side of the road—how annoying for her to deal with this daily. I have always wanted to know who everyone is and their story. Now, I continue to tell everyone else’s story through my marketing + PR company simply by getting to know them on a deeper level, finding what interests me most about them, and then shouting it from the rooftops. The main point here is that this comes naturally to me because it is truly what I care about and what I want to listen to.  I’m a hype gal, and when I believe in someone, I want everyone else to know them or to know that they cannot miss that special pasta! It pains me if someone goes to a city and misses my favorite restaurant, so I will go as far as to offer to make them a reservation and make sure they don’t forget about that cookie as they are about to leave! So how did I do all this? I just found what I really liked and continue to blaze down the trail and truthfully enjoy my time. I believe you can feel it if something isn’t right, and whenever I felt stuck in a job or that I had completed what I needed to do there, I listened to myself and moved on—even if I loved it because I wanted to grow and learn something new.


So here you have my new website It’s the first time I’ve actually monetarily invested in my own brand and hired a professional designer, web developer, copywriter, and photographer to work with me to match my vision. I have to say it felt REALLY good to have others share their thoughts and opinions since I work alone and have built my old websites myself. I highly recommend investing in yourself or own personal business especially when you are a service that spends all your time investing in other people’s image! I think the new site reflects my personality and how I hope to make you feel when reading my articles on WHERE TO EAT (this is where all the articles from ChekmarkEats live). You can see the work I’ve done to highlight my clients businesses and personalities to make them stand out and grow their own business locally in Austin. Thanks for joining me on this new brand that feels so right and a dream come true!