Kristy – From VP Human Resources, to Stay at Home Mom, to Professional Food Blogger

Kristy – From VP Human Resources, to Stay at Home Mom, to Professional Food Blogger

#27 – Kristy Bernardo is the woman behind the wildly successful blog The Wicked Noodle, however, being a professional foodie wasn’t always in her future. Growing up in small town Wisconsin, Kristy didn’t have s strong sense of what she should pursue after high school although it didn’t take long for her to find out that she excelled in retail. After 5 promotions in 5 months, she was managing her own store in another state by the age of 20! Next came a move to Southern California where she lived for 16 years as she advanced her career through various companies from Payroll Specialist all the way up to Vice President of Human Resources for Wahoo’s Fish Taco. Upon having children, Kristy became a stay-at-home mom who had to learn how to cook, so she thought she might as well blog about it and this, The Wicked Noodle was born. Despite her low expectations, the blog gained a following quickly and within 6 months she was working with advertisers and opportunities were presenting themselves. Now, 12 years later, food blogging has taken Kristy farther than she ever imagined. She’s been a national spokesperson for major brands, worked with famous chefs, hosted TV shows and publish 5 cookbooks – all from a little hobby blog. Listen to her Career Crossroads interview to hear the whole story.

Kristy can be found at the following links:

Website: www.thewickednoodle.com

Social Media: @thewickednoodle

Or look for any of Kristy's cookbooks on Amazon or wherever you buy books:

  • The Big Book of Instant Pot Recipes: 240 Must-Try Dishes for your Multi-Function Cooker
  • Weeknight Keto: 75 East and Quick Recipes for Delicious Low-Carb Meals
  • Cooking from Frozen in Your Instant Pot: 100 Foolproof Recipes with No Thawing
  • Weeknight Cooking with Your Instant Pot: Simple Family-Friendly Meals Made Better in Half the Time 
  • Easy Cooking with Your Ninja Foodi: 75 Recipes for Incredible One-Pot Meals in Half the Time 
Transcript
Jonathan Collaton:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, you're listening to career crossroads. And if you're new here, welcome, otherwise, welcome back. I'm Jonathan Coulton, and this is the podcast where I talk to one person each week about all the decisions that led them to their current career path. This week's guest is Kristy Bernardo, but you might know her better as the woman behind The Wicked Noodle, a very successful food blog, or any of the five cookbooks she's published over the last few years. Despite that success, food doesn't come up for a long time and Kristy's career path so she's got quite the story to tell. Let's listen to her interview. And then afterwards, as I do every week, I'll share some things I think we can learn from this week's guest. Kristy, welcome to career crossroads. I'm glad that we finally been able to put this interview together, it's finally happening. So excited.

Kristy Bernardo:

Me too. I'm so glad to be here. Great.

Jonathan Collaton:

So let's talk about your career path. That's what we're here to do today. And I always like to ask my guests to start off by telling me kind of where were they raised, and where were they at the point in their life when they were about 16 or really anywhere in high school? Because I really think that's a point where people begin to think about what they might do wants to graduate high school, everyone has a roadmap until about 80. And and then after that, you make your own decision. So what was what was life like up till then for you?

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, so I grew up in Waupaca, Wisconsin, which is like Central Wisconsin, and it was a small town of thinking about 4000 or so people at the time. It's definitely grown since then. And when I was 16, it was Oh, that would have been 1986. So that's dating me a little bit. And so I was a teenager that really didn't have much direction. That's probably the nicest way I could say it about myself. I really didn't know what I wanted to do. And I, I really sort of kind of floated around, trying to figure it all out, which I guess is not that uncommon. But I did have a job. And I started working when I was 15. Actually, I had just turned 15. And I worked at a place called the wheelhouse in Waupaca. And it's actually the waupaca chain of lakes. And there are 28 lakes that are all connected to one another. The wheelhouse was sort of right there on the water. And so it was a really coveted place to work. And I have two older sisters. And both of them had worked there before me. So it was sort of a family family thing. And so that was my first job. And I loved it. I started as a bus girl. And I worked there for four years. And then I ended up getting promoted to waitress, which was exciting because you could make quite a bit of money working there, especially in the summertime, we were really busy.

Jonathan Collaton:

Is this a mid high end type of like hotel resort area?

Kristy Bernardo:

No, it's more like lots of cabins and cottages that line the lakes. And, and the wheelhouse was really more just a pizza place. But it was really good pizza and sandwiches and everything was made from scratch. And Jeff, the owner was an incredible chef. And so we would have lines out the door. I mean, it was not uncommon to have a three hour wait time on the weekends in the summertime.

Jonathan Collaton:

Three hour, Wow.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah. So it was crazy. And it was it was a really nice place. And in the winter, we had this big fireplace and everyone would hang out. And it just it was a really, really cool first job for sure. In fact, I still today. Every once in a while I'll have a dream that I'm like working at the lake. And that's all it is. I'm just taking someone's order or walking around. So it's pretty funny. So that was a really cool first job to have for sure. But I really didn't know what I wanted to do. Once I got out of high school. I really had no idea. The only thing that I had ever really wanted to be was a band director. I played the flute for seven years and I was really really into music. And I was in the choir and and I was also a cheerleader and did some other just kind of clubs and things but yeah, so band director was the one thing that I sort of wanted to do but then the older I got, I sort of fell off a little bit and so And that kind of left me not really knowing what I wanted to do. So,

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so when you were graduating high school, was there any push to go get post secondary education from, you know, family or friends or anything like that? Or are you kind of just...because for a lot of people, I think parents are, you know, push us in one direction. I know from my parents, for example, like it was go and get a good education and get a good job. And that was, I didn't really know necessarily what 100% I was gonna do, but it was like, get the degree and then you'll figure it out. Did you have any sort of influence like that?

Kristy Bernardo:

I didn't know, my parents were always like, you know, you can do pretty much what, what you want. And I really didn't have a lot of guidance in that area. So I ended up kind of floating around for about a year after I graduated high school, not really knowing what I wanted to do. I did take some classes, and I was going to college technically, but I wasn't really focused on it, though. It was more just I'm sort of interested in this, I'll take the classes and see kind of what happens. So I ended up actually moving to Appleton, Wisconsin, which is about an hour from Waupaca. And I got a job, the fox river mall, I got a job at Vanity shops as a sales associate. And I got my own apartment. And I thought, Okay, well, I'm just going to sort of do this for a little while and see where it takes me. And because I will say one thing, I may not have had a lot of direction, but I was a really hard worker. So what ended up happening was that I was promoted five times in five months. And I was the youngest person to ever get my own store.

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah. So that's kind of a whole long story that I won't get into here. But basically, what happened is, they told me that that fall, they were opening a store in Houghton, Michigan, and that they wanted me to manage it. And I would have to relocate up there. And I would open the store and hire the whole staff and along with a district manager. And, and and that's what I would do. And I was thrilled. I remember getting the call, I was back home visiting my parents and the district manager called and said, We want to give you this, this position, and I was excited. I was super, super young. And so then they ended up having to let go a manager in Sheboygan, Wisconsin at that location. And so again, I got sort of a panicked call saying any chance you can relocate to Sheboygan, like in the next three days and take over the store early. Which of course I did. But I was terrified, because I really didn't know if I could do this. But I did. I went down and it was really hard and challenging for a very young woman.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, like how old would you have been, like 20 years old at this point?

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah,exactly.

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah. So I went down. And I did that for a few months. And then once my store was ready, I went up to Houghton, Michigan, and I opened the store and I was a store manager and in a little Michigan college town.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, that's, that is such a, an interesting experience. Because it, maybe I'm way off here, but I don't get the feeling that that type of experience really happens much anymore. You're not the first person to actually who I've spoken to who has told me a story like that. But I think you and I are also different generations. And in my generation, I just don't hear that as something that is happening to people like being so young and getting promoted so early. And in running retail stores. Like it's, it's just, it's not really it doesn't seem like an option for my for my generation. And I don't know if it's more because, you know, I, I'm also maybe in my own bubble, because I went to university and I work at a university. So I'm only seeing people who've been kind of directed in that area. But I, you know, I can't think of anyone I know who's had an experience like that. But it's so fascinating, because it does show that...

Kristy Bernardo:

that hard work matters?

Jonathan Collaton:

Yes, exactly. Exactly like hardware can get you where you need to be. And it kind of I almost think that that is sort of work coming back, because I think there are so many people right now, like, I have an arts degree, but so does everyone else I know. And I'm not any different than them. So, you know, when 500 people are applying to a job and we all have the same degree, how do you actually differentiate from from them and so, stories like what you're talking about are the ways that you differentiate. So that's that's great that you had that experience so young, but I also can't imagine like how challenging that would be just having like pack up and move to another state and first one city, then another And like even the practical side of that, like, you have to just find an apartment and how like, what was that process like?

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, yeah, so my parents went up there with me, thank God for my parents, I have to say they are pretty much the best people on the planet. So I went up with them. And I ended up renting this really cool apartment, it was right above a bar, actually. And, of course, at the time and my age, I didn't realize that, of course, on the weekends, it's going to be really, really loud there. But it was great. And it was right on a river that ran along the back of this of like the Main Street. And so I had this cool balcony that overlooks the river. And it was a pretty big apartment. And it was really old with like, really cool, like old wooden beams and things and, and I had a huge living room, and kitchen and like, like it only had one bedroom, one bathroom, living room and kitchen. But it was all like, it was huge. Like all of it was just like way more space than I needed. And it was $300 a month.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh my god. So like I told you before we recorded that I'm apartment hunting literally like today I'm going to look at apartments. And what you're describing would be like a $3,000 apartment right now in Toronto anyway, so

Kristy Bernardo:

I'm sure even now today that apartment has to go for at least a grand I would think.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, yeah, for sure.

Kristy Bernardo:

But it's it's so really in such an isolated sort of town. I'd be curious to know how much it goes for today, actually. But yeah, it was a great experience. And then one really cool story that I just feel like I really want to tell is that a couple months after I moved up there because I had no furniture. I mean, right? I'm I'm 20 I mean, I can barely pay my bills pretty much. And my parents were coming to visit me and they came to the store to get the key to my apartment because they got there early before I got to work. So they were just going to wait for me there. Well, little did I know that they planned it that way. They had bought me a bunch of used furniture but really nice and like new and moved it up the up the stairs, into my apartment by themselves. And my mom had been working on all these like, pillows for it like making them herself. And like just Anyway, it was really cool, because I got home from work that day. And I walked into my apartment, and the whole place was furnished. And I literally almost started to cry. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. It's really it's one of my favorite memories. So I know it doesn't really have a lot to do with the show. And I apologize.

Jonathan Collaton:

No, I that's great.

Kristy Bernardo:

I had to plug my parents really quick.

Jonathan Collaton:

No, that's...that's I always tell people and I know I didn't specifically say it outright, but like, this is a this is your story. And whatever's important in your career path is you know, what's supposed to be on the podcast. So no, I'm glad to hear that. That's a really good story.

Kristy Bernardo:

Thank you.

Jonathan Collaton:

So you're running this store, then at like 20 years old, and you're the manager and you hired the whole staff. How did you find that experience? As someone who was so young? Did you have mostly people younger than you working for you? Did you have some people older? And I asked that because working with university students right now like they're all in that age range, for the most part. And I find like a massive difference between the like 18 year olds and the 22 year olds in terms of just kind of their like confidence level when it comes to...

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh for sure.

Jonathan Collaton:

Now I work with clubs, right? So the difference between 18 year olds running a club versus a 22 year old is like shockingly different. And so I know how much age matters when it comes to who's in charge at that point in your life.

Kristy Bernardo:

Especially at that age.

Jonathan Collaton:

Exactly.

Kristy Bernardo:

Those specific years, I think You, grow so so much.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. So what was that? Like? Did you find it really easy to kind of manage that? Or were there challenges you had to overcome?

Kristy Bernardo:

So I did actually find it pretty easy. the hiring process wasn't easy. We I mean, we had to work for several days all day just taking interview after interview after interview. But we settled on Lisa, who was 29 and she became my assistant manager. And then there was Lynn, who was management and she was even older. I think she was maybe 30 or 31. And she was sort of a step down from Lisa and then there was Jeanette. And by the way, I'm still friends with well all three but Lisa has unfortunately passed away But yeah, I still keep in touch with both Lynne and Jeanette. Jeanette was a college student and she was our keyholder which is basically like the lowest level management but she has a key to the store and concern of open and that kind of thing. And I really didn't find it difficult and I'm sure that's just a credit to both Lisa and Lynn. They were both just really super great to work with. It was exciting for them to have a new store open at the mall. And I had a really actually good experience with it. And, and I think too, I recognize that I was really young, I had zero management experience. And I knew that I had to sort of learn what I could from them too. For example, Lisa was amazing at Merchandising, and she just had such a talent for it. And so even though I was her boss, I kind of let her run with certain things and didn't get too caught up. And you know, I'm your boss, and you have to do what I say kind of thing. Yeah. So yeah, it worked out really well, for me, actually. Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

How long did that situation stay that way where you were the manager of that store running things? Because you got promoted five times of five months before? So was it a quick, like you got promoted again? Or were you in that store for years and years?

Kristy Bernardo:

Well, no, neither of those things. So in order for me to get promoted, again, it probably would have taken a much, much longer time, because the next step up was district manager. And of course, there are many, a lot fewer spots for that position. And I had planned on staying indefinitely, really, because it was such a great opportunity. But I actually ended up only staying about a year and a half. Mostly because first of all my age, I was much more isolated than I think I that most kids my age kids, but you know, and also that particular area gets a lot of snow in the winter. No, I grew up in Wisconsin, I'm used to snow, I'm used to the winter, I actually really liked the winter. But that winter, we got so much No, my car was completely buried. And I mean, there was no getting it out for a couple of weeks. I mean, it was it was buried, buried. And so it made life really challenging. And also, you know, all I did was go to work and then go home, and I really didn't have any social life. It was a college town. So I did occasionally go out and, and hang out with some of the college students. And I did make some friends. But for the most part, I was really isolated and lonely. And I realized that, you know, now that I had this experience on my resume, that maybe what I should do is leave and go hang out with my older sister Jolie in Southern California. Oh, well, that's Yeah. Yeah. So I made a complete change. And I left. Oh, gosh. So I would have been, I would have been 22. And yeah, so I went out to Southern California, and I was out there. And so I did a little bit of retail out there. I got a an assistant manager job, because I couldn't find a store manager position open, but I kept looking. And then I ended up taking just a part time job at a company called Paychecks. It's a payroll company. And it was just, you know, I was an assistant manager at close time, which was a, like a women's clothing store. And then I just took this receptionist job for a few hours a week as just kind of something, some extra cash. And I ended up really liking it there. I really liked the culture, I really liked the people I worked with. And I ended up getting a month later, after starting I got an offer to be one of their payroll specialists, which I thought was really interesting. So I ended up taking the job getting out of retail completely. And they sent me to New York for two weeks to learn how to do payroll and become a payroll specialist.

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Did you did you do all the payroll in, in retail like you had experience int hat?

Kristy Bernardo:

I did not. I knew nothing.

Jonathan Collaton:

So it was just like, you're so likable, that they just, they just wanted you to be there. And I thought if we offer a better job, she'll be here full time.

Kristy Bernardo:

Well, and I think the thing with that particular company, too, is that and what I didn't know at the time that I took the job is that it was a really stressful position. And so I wouldn't say turnover was incredibly high. But finding good payroll specialists was fairly challenging, I think for them. So I don't think it was like, Wow, you're such an amazing receptionists that, you know... But I think they just thought that I could do the job and they needed someone and so hey, you know, are you interested and I, I was and I thought what? Okay, this will be a really fun new experience. So I ended up rooming there with another recently hired payroll specialist, Jill, who was still a really good friend of mine today. And long story short with that I ended up working there for five years, four or five years. And I was a payroll specialist for probably about a year or so I would say, and then then I started this campaign. I wanted to become a supervisor. That was my thing. And so I worked so hard trying to prove myself and I yeah, so I ended up getting the job. And I ended up being a supervisor there for a few more years. And it was, it was great, I loved it. I loved it. And I stayed in that industry for really quite a long time. I ended up leaving there, I actually follow Jill, my fellow payroll specialist, she had left about a year earlier to work for Pay Tax, because one of the things about doing payroll is you also do the payroll taxes. And so what was cool about pay tax was, everything was done manually, like all the taxes. And so we did taxes for companies like GE, who had employees in all 50 states. And we would have this big ledger, where the federal taxes were on the top, and then all the different states were behind it in in alphabetical order. And you would have to do every page and balance every page, and then it all would have to balance at the end. And so it was really fun. I really liked that part of it. Like it was almost like this big puzzle that you had to figure out. So I was really into it. And I really enjoyed that. So, so I stayed with that. Maybe another year. And then

Jonathan Collaton:

Well before you get on to the next thing...

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, sorry, sorry

Jonathan Collaton:

No, no, no problem. I just I was I've got some thoughts here about like, so how big was the town you grew up in, in Wisconsin? How many people live there?

Kristy Bernardo:

I think it was like 4200 or 4600.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh so small time.

Kristy Bernardo:

Okay, it was small. Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

So you go from small town, Wisconsin, and then you end up moving alone, some Michigan and you're running the store there. And then you make the jump to Southern California. All by the time you're like 21-22, something like that, it sounds like. And then you get a payroll job. And they treat send you to New York for training shortly after that

Kristy Bernardo:

Rodchester, yup.

Jonathan Collaton:

Rochester, New York. Okay, so not like New York City. But still, to be so young and have like, moved around that much for work is that's like, I'm gonna use the word impressive, because I can't really think of another better way to phrase that. Because it's, it's not like you were sort of forced to, like get out of dodge to go get another job, like you had the ability to jump around clearly and, and get and get good jobs that you wanted, which is so awesome for somebody in their early 20s to be able to do and I also really surprised I guess about the tax stuff. I never, I mean, I don't know a lot about chartered accountants, but I 100% would have thought gee would have like, people who are registered, Chartered Accountants doing all their tax stuff. But

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, so they probably do today. But this was, you know, 20 some years ago, and things were just sort of different than I guess. And, you know, everything was filed electronically, and handled that way. But one thing is that when I worked in paychecks, and all of the taxes were also calculated electronically, but the the error risk in doing it on the computer is really high. Because if a payroll specialist would enter, let's say some sort of taxes and exempt, oh, like a like an FSA or something, and they put it in the wrong field, it could completely throw up all their taxes forever, right? Where if you're doing it manually, it just it just doesn't happen that way. Or you catch it.

Jonathan Collaton:

Writing one thing down doesn't change everything else like it does on a spreadsheet or filing online.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So that was a really fun job, though. I have to say, very different from anything else I have done. But it was pretty cool.

Jonathan Collaton:

It's so..I love hearing like that was a fun job. Because for me, that would not be fun. But like understand,

Kristy Bernardo:

That's what I always thought!

Jonathan Collaton:

Well, yeah, and everybody has a different skill sets and interests. And I just think I was sitting around like crunching numbers or one I'm, it's, I was never good at that. I've had to learn to get good at math because as it turns out, when you're an adult budgeting and things like that do require some understanding of some basic math so I had to...you know, while I wasn't good at that type of stuff in school, does pay off Actually, I don't have to use the Pythagorean Theorem very often, but have, you know, regular multiplication division is pretty important.

Kristy Bernardo:

For sure.

Jonathan Collaton:

what I'm so what I'm really kind of honing in on though hearing all this is that the idea of, you know, in the modern era, like just CPAs, and people with very formalized education being the ones doing that, clearly, it isn't, it might be the way things are done, but it doesn't mean it's the only way things can work. Because as long as you're somebody like you who's hard working, and I think the really important thing, too, is the job trained you on what to do, like they sent you away for training to New York, and a lot of other places. I think it's very common these days that companies do not want to train people, they want people to come out of education, like ready to go, ready to just plug in, you know, kind of a cog in the wheel type of cog in the machine type of type of thing. And it doesn't have to be that way. It just is that way. Right now, I am starting to see people my age, like I'm 31. And I've, I'm myself considering going back to college, because I feel like I got this great formal education. But I'm sort of like missing some practical experience or practical skills that would allow me to branch out beyond the specific thing I know how to do. So, yeah. Anyway, being a hard worker and having a company train, you seems like it will get you a long way. So I'm glad that that go for you.

Kristy Bernardo:

I would actually tell anyone listening that I assume that that company paychecks still does it that way. You know, so hey, if somebody is looking for a job, and they don't know what direction they want to go, give it a shot. You have to pass a math test in order to be hired. But as I recall, it was pretty easy, especially for me who was not the greatest student in high school. You know, so I kind of feel like if I can pass it, most people could.

Jonathan Collaton:

that's good to know. So throw that out there as advice to people.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, go Paychecks!

Jonathan Collaton:

okay, great. And so before you were saying, like you did that for however long and then and then moved along. So keep telling me that story.

Kristy Bernardo:

Well, so then my personal life kind of came into play, and I met my now ex husband, but so Alan and I met and he was actually moving to San Diego to get his graduate degree. And after about a year of dating, he wanted me to move with him

Jonathan Collaton:

and where were you in Southern California?

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, I was in Orange County. Yeah, Newport Beach. And so I really didn't want to go because I absolutely loved Orange County. I still love Orange County. I miss Orange County. I guess I just gave away some of the some of my future right there. But yeah, it was such a cool place to live. I was there for 16 years. And and, you know, San Diego is a great place, right? Who doesn't want to be in San Diego, but for me, all my friends were there. They didn't have the Kevin and bean radio show down there every morning that I listened to on my way to work. I wonder if Kevin and bean are still on? I don't know. Anyway, so there were just things that I didn't want to give up. But I ultimately did make the decision to move down there. And so

Jonathan Collaton:

how far away are they like if to drive between the two? Because I actually don't have a reference for that.

Kristy Bernardo:

I'm actually trying to remember

Jonathan Collaton:

cuz San Diego is like basically at the border with Mexico right?

Kristy Bernardo:

Maybe it's like an hour, hour and a half.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, something like that is far

Jonathan Collaton:

enough to be inconvenient if you if your whole life is an hour and a half away,

Kristy Bernardo:

especially with Southern California traffic.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yes.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah. I don't miss that part of Southern California at all. But yeah, so we were down there a couple years and I did payroll for a commercial real estate company down there. That was a job I did not like I didn't like the company or the culture at all. But I stuck with it because, you know, it was my job. It was my full time job and and I knew we weren't going to be there very long. So once Alan graduated from USD, he took a job with Raytheon in El Segundo, California. So we ended up moving to Redondo Beach, California, which is north of Orange County, where San Diego South so we move north of Orange County. And now we were more in like LA County. So I got a job doing payroll there for another commercial real estate company. And that was a job that I kind of didn't really care for all that much, but I did make a lot of really good friends there. In fact, I just talked to two of them this week to my best friends. So from that perspective, it was a very successful venture for me doing payroll. And so I stayed there. And I had no plans to go anywhere else. But then I got a call from a friend of mine. So I had I had Mingo Lee and Cindy Pataki, and they were married. And they had been friends of mine, really since I had moved to Southern California. And they owned a company called Wahoos Fish Taco. I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but it's...

Jonathan Collaton:

No, I haven't.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, so they have their chain in Southern California. Really great tacos. And if anyone is listening that ever goes to Wahoos get the blackened mushroom enchiladas with the green sauce, because I'm telling you, it's the best thing ever. Anyway, so it was a really cool restaurant chain. And Cindy had just had her second baby. And she was retiring from law who's and she had been the HR director for Gosh, ever since they had an HR director. So they had about 40 stores. And then they also had some franchises in some different states. And so they asked me if I would come and take over the department because she was leaving. And so that's when I ventured into payroll slash HR. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. So my official title was vice president of human resources for was fish taco. And, yeah, so I it was great. I mean, it was challenging because first of all, I didn't speak Spanish. And most of our restaurant and employees spoke Spanish. But it was really it was a fun job. I would go to work in shorts and flip flops. The culture was super, super casual. And

Jonathan Collaton:

that's pretty drastic from most VP HR roles.

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

I've ever heard of.

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, yeah. I mean, there were times. Very rarely, but you know, if I had to meet with someone in particular that I would dress the roll. Yeah. But for the most part, I mean, it really was like a tank top shorts and flip flops. And even the owners did the same. They were in Hawaiian shirts, and it was great. It's pretty good.

Jonathan Collaton:

What Yeah, like of all the other jobs you had, were they all more formal than that? Or like, were they all very formal, or that kind of laid back atmosphere?

Kristy Bernardo:

Uh, yeah. So paychecks was pretty formal. Like you had to really dress dress the part we had casual Fridays, which was pretty, pretty nice. But yeah, you know, you had to sort of wear a dress or a suit or something like that. And then I think all my other jobs especially certainly retail was pretty casual, right. But the other payroll jobs I had. Were casual, but I guess maybe business casual, I would call it gotcha. Yeah. So, but still shorts and flip flops? You can't beat that. No, I guess not. You really can't.

Jonathan Collaton:

No. And before you tell me more about that job. I just, I'm trying to kind of want to get a sense of the timeline to get to a job kind of at that level. Because I think what I'm curious about and what a lot of people probably listen to this or curious about is like how long and how many years of effort you have to put in at various jobs to kind of get a, a job with a title like that. So yeah, so because you said 16 years in Orange County, but I'm trying to map it out in my head. So from the time you, you, you're in that the second payroll job that you said for five years.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, for four or five. I don't remember exactly what it was, but about that you got.

Jonathan Collaton:

And then you went down to San Diego. Yep. And then how long were you there for?

Kristy Bernardo:

a year and a half

Jonathan Collaton:

year and a half? Okay. And then you move to LA almost LA County. You said?

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah. And then I worked for Kilray Realty.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

And how long were you there for?

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, man, a year and a half again, maybe?

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. So not overly long times you were able to, I mean, part of it was necessity. If you were...if the plan was to move as a family, you you have to get another job, right. It's not like you were ready to jump just because you were a year and a half in it was because you were literally moving somewhere else.

Kristy Bernardo:

Exactly.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. And then it was it after a year and a half there that you got this. You got on with the tacos.

Kristy Bernardo:

Wahoo's? Yeah. Yeah. With the taco.

Jonathan Collaton:

And then how long before that director job or VP job?

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, no, that was it was a VP job straight out.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh you went straight to that?

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, yeah. Like I was the HR department the whole time I was there. There was no other HR

Jonathan Collaton:

Just because these were friends of yours who you knew from that area and they offered you that job.

Kristy Bernardo:

They did. And I think I think the reason that I ended up getting it though was because Cindy and I were such good friends. And we didn't see each other often, we were both super busy. But we would get together for dinner now and then. And I would tell her about sort of the trials and tribulations of being a payroll specialist and being a supervisor at a payroll company. And, and so I think she got a real sense of maybe who I was in the role. So it wasn't just like, Hey, we're friends. And you do payroll?

Jonathan Collaton:

Of course, yeah.

Kristy Bernardo:

I think oh, no, for sure. Like, but I think she just had some personal insight into, I guess, my work ethic a little bit, just because we talked so much. Yeah. And at such length about it. So.

Jonathan Collaton:

So I, a lot of my friends work in the same field as, as me. And when we get together, it's always hard to not talk about work, because we understand each other's cashews, you know, and so I get where you're coming from. Because Yeah, we do that same thing, where we'll just discuss, like, oh, what's it been like for you? You know, what do you been working on? And we'll talk about that stuff, even though, you know, you would think, as friends shouldn't be just want to hang out and talk about other things. Except your career is a huge part of your life. It's what you do eight hours a day or more Five days a week for for a typical job. But some people are working way harder if you own your own business like this Your whole life. So

Kristy Bernardo:

Right.

Jonathan Collaton:

So it makes sense that those conversations come up. And I kind of wanted to highlight that just because, well, like you got that job because you were qualified for it and someone who knew you was looking for someone with that skill set. And it wouldn't have come up if you weren't talking about what your real life was like to people like you don't gloss over, like, Oh, yeah, my job's great. Blah, blah, blah, move on right now. Like you're actually talking about the reality of your day to day life with your friends. And that's how you ended up getting a job.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, and I guess I never really thought about it that way. But you're right. Absolutely. Well, and you know, I have to say, you know, looking back over my life and my career life, I certainly feel that a lot of luck was involved. But it was definitely definitely built on a base of hard work. Yeah. And, and ambition. Also, you know, I, I school was not my thing. And I have taken classes, a lot of different classes over the years. But, you know, I don't have a degree. But I, but I love to work. And I love to learn. And I think that for me personally, the the traditional school route was just not going to work for me. And I'm thankful that it ended up turning out. Sure, but But yeah, you know, a lot of luck, a lot of being at the right place at the right time, a lot of knowing people who can, you know, give me a good opportunity, and are willing to do so which is also necessary.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. Now, these you just mentioned, like you took some courses over the years here and there. Was that just out of pure interest? Or is it something where when you were working, you saw maybe like a gap in your skill set? And you thought I should learn more about this so that I can be better at it? What was the rationale for those courses?

Kristy Bernardo:

So both of those things, so definitely, I took some classes just to make sure that I was on par with my field. But also like, one, one of the things that I've always really, really loved is history. And I think because I wasn't the greatest student in high school. I kind of wanted to prove something to myself, I guess. And so I have a really good memory of this is when we were living in San Diego. And I took some history classes at the community college. I don't remember which one, but I do remember that my professors name was Professor Fishbein, F-I-S-H-B-E-I-N, something like that. And it was an American history course. And I worked so hard in that class. I mean, first of all, I loved absolutely loved it. My professor was amazing and so passionate about history and so like I couldn't wait to get to class and you had to write papers and she would grade that, that that that like those were the only assignments and it was you know, A to F type style grading. And on several occasions, I got Eight classes. And it was really cool because I remember sitting in class and there were like all these sort of young people around me like I was way older than anyone else in these classes. And there was a particular guy that sat behind me, I don't remember his name. But I would get really excited when the she would give us our graded papers back because my scores are always really high. And I'd be like, Oh, my God, like I got any plus again. So yes, I was that person. And I did tone it down after the first time or two, but he would literally just be like, ah, God, you know, but it was really cool for me, because I was never that kid in high school. But here I was, and I was getting these amazing grades. And I was really passionate about it, and I really loved it. So I kind of learned that I it wasn't. It wasn't learning that I that I didn't enjoy. I just needed to find the right topic, I guess. And maybe age had a lot to do with it, too. But yeah, so so I ended up ultimately really enjoying school. I don't think I would ever go back full time. Although Never say never. But yeah, so so both of those for sure.

Jonathan Collaton:

Very cool. So let's get back to tacos.

Kristy Bernardo:

Okay.

Jonathan Collaton:

because now I have to go get tacos for lunch after this. But

Kristy Bernardo:

you definitely do and if you get to Southern California, you definitely need some wahoo

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, yeah, I'm gonna make sure I get all the recommendations from you before I go. Good. So so your VP HR was your title? You said right.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yep.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so VP HR. How long of a of a career was that for you? Because I know you're not doing that now. And you also talked about Orange County, 16 years, but I feel like that wasn't 16 years in Orange County before. So let's go through kind of what happened from when you started as the VP HR, what was the next step for you?

Kristy Bernardo:

So let's see, I was VP HR, I must have been 31 I would say probably could have been 32. But somewhere around there. And while I was at Wahoos, I, Alan and I got married. And not long after we got married. I found out I was pregnant. So I think we were married for maybe six months. And then we actually started trying for a baby. So I probably it was probably like nine months after we got married that I found out I was pregnant. So I only ended up working for Wahoos for another seven months after that. And I ended up resigning when I was seven months pregnant to become a stay at home mom. So that is how that journey ended. Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Was that something that you always planned for? Or it just kind of like in the moment when you started to kind of look at..I think a lot of people like financial security plays a big part in whether or not a person in the family chooses to be a stay at home parent. So was that expected? Or was it just when you started to look at kind of your situation at that time, it just it fit? And you decided to do it?

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, so I had never really you know, I always wanted to be a mom, but I never, it wasn't like a major part in my plans. Like, I'm going to drop everything to become a mom, you know, I figured it would all just sort of play out, which is what ended up happening. And so yeah, we just sort of figured it out at the time. And Alan made more money than I did. Plus he had a graduate degree. And so it just kind of made sense that it would be me to to stay home. And you know, we could have put the put our kids in daycare, and we both could have kept working. But I just didn't I that was not for me. I'm no problem with people that do do that. And I certainly understand why they would. But for me, I just really wanted to stay home and you know, raise my kids. So that's what we did. So we ended up building a house a little more inland, Southern California. And we were there about a year and a half. And during that time, I became pregnant with our second daughter. And we decided that we wanted to leave Southern California. And the biggest reason for that was because my husband's commute was a minimum of two hours each way because

Jonathan Collaton:

Ohh, that's aweful.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yes.

Jonathan Collaton:

I mean, like an hour and that's and that was a lot. Two hours would be a nightmare

Kristy Bernardo:

and that was minimum depending on traffic. Yeah. And so he did he did buy a motorcycle. And in Southern California you can sort of weave in and out of cars. Yeah. Which of course I didn't like him doing because I feel like that's really dangerous but definitely cut down on his commute time. But yeah, so we just decided that we were, we had kids now and we wanted sort of a more quieter pace of life, or slower pace of life and a quieter overall just existence, I guess. And so, long story short, we ended up moving to Virginia. And I am still here in Virginia. And that's been Oh, I don't know how old I'm not. I'm not going to tell you how long it's bad, Jonathan? Because then, then everyone's gonna know all I really am. But yeah, so. So this is where the next phase of my career life started. And this was completely accidental.

Jonathan Collaton:

So you know what, even before you get into that really quick,

Kristy Bernardo:

yeah

Jonathan Collaton:

did you think that, like, you can only be a stay at home parent for so long? Because eventually your kids get older and move out and so did you think like that you ever would go back to work at some point?

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I think once the kids were in school full time, so I guess, you know, probably by the time our youngest daughter, Katie was in first grade, I definitely had plans to go back. And you know, I may or may not have worked full time, you know, we hadn't worked all that out. But yeah, it was definitely something that I wanted to do. Only because what else would I do? Yeah, yeah, I'm really not into gardening or, you know, I've never been, I've envied those women who have like the talent for decorating and that kind of thing. But it's just, it's really never been me. So for me, I really needed to sort of get out and do something. But I definitely had quite a few years, you know, probably good seven or eight years before that was going to happen. So. So I had time on my hands. And we moved to a new town in a new state. I didn't have any friends, it was the middle of winter. And I was really bored. I'll be honest, you know, my, my girls were two and four, no younger than that. And we, we lived in this, it was a great house, I loved this house. But it was really, really cold we had like, we eventually switch to a propane gas heater. But before we did that, for some reason, before we put in this whole new heating system, we had this really high ceilings, and it was so cold when we first moved in there. So we had an office, they had a door. And Allen hung the TV in there and and that was we had our desk, and it was a fairly large room. And we had a lot of the girls toys and things. So we would spend a fair amount of time in there where they were just playing or I would turn the TV on for them. And while that was going on, I decided, Hey, you know what, I'm just kind of sitting here watching them play, maybe I'll start a food blog. I don't have anything else to do. And I had really gotten into cooking. And I should probably say backtrack a little bit, that when I became a stay at home mom, I had not I never cooked before that, like we ate out pretty much breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I was a huge foodie. And I decided that I was or maybe not even decided I was sort of forced to learn how to cook because I really wanted to eat good food, but you're not going to be going out to eat all the time with one income and a newborn. So anyway, so I had spent the last few years teaching myself how to cook. So now flash forward back to my story. I decided to start this food blog. And it really was something silly, you know, I thought maybe my mom will read my recipes. Maybe this will be a place for her to go and she can see what I'm making that week or something. You know, it really was very frivolous and just something to occupy my time. And so, unbeknownst to me, you could actually have a career as a food blogger. And within just a few months, I was getting paid gigs. Very, very, very small pay. I will stress that but back in those days, there was a company called Food Buzz that a lot of the food bloggers sort of got jobs with and those jobs for the most part were unpaid, but they were they would also do things like we had this. You can pitch them different ideas and they had this thing called 24/24/24 and it was 24 bloggers...24 dinners in 24 hours by 24 different bloggers or something like that. And they would basically pay you to have whatever this dinner was. And then and so I, I pitched an idea called city girl goes organic. And you know, I came from Southern California. And now here I am living in Virginia that's sort of ish in the country. And I'm going to put on a dinner that has all locally sourced organic ingredients, just from my new area. But also on top of that, I'm going to have, I'm gonna invite people who have never socialized with previously because we're completely new to this area. So so that I got the opportunity. And we threw this dinner party, and we had I think about 20 people. And we set up these tables, and like the the local...in Middleburg, Virginia, the very small, very small paper in town, but they covered the story. And then that photographer that was coming, his girlfriend was a personal chef, and he was like, Hey, you want somebody to come and cook? And I was like, Yeah, that would be amazing. So she and I cooked the meal together. And it was awesome. So and there's a reason that I told you about that. Because that comes into play further down the line. So that was super fun. And I started getting things like that. And then nine months later, palm wonderful flew me to Fresno, California to tour their orchards. And, and then things like that started just happening all the time. And so, so this was early 2009, when this started.

Jonathan Collaton:

And this is starting up a food blog and like people just find it or do you do paid advertising? Or like how do you, you know, you have a thing you're good at but how do people find it do you think?

Kristy Bernardo:

Well, you know, back in those days, I'm actually trying to remember how because the culture has changed so much. I mean, the food blogging industry is absolutely completely different from what it was in 2009. So I don't remember really how we promoted it. I think we did promote on food buzz, but there was no Pinterest. Facebook was super, super new back then. So to be honest, I don't really remember. But I guess people did and brands did. And somehow. And also, the other thing is, I don't think there were a lot of food blogs back then. So back then you might have a blog that would do like, you know, the top 50 food blogs of, you know, of 2009. And those type of posts were huge back then. Right? Has you really didn't have any other way to sort of find people. I mean Google, of course, but umm...

Jonathan Collaton:

I have a question. I was thinking about this actually, because I was looking at your website and your Pinterest. And do you take the pictures of the food yourself that you post about?

Kristy Bernardo:

Okay, so that's a whole long other story. But yes, so I I taught myself food photography, just by researching online taking some online classes. Practice, practice, practice, practice. So I think I got pretty good. I have some photos on my site that are that I'm really really proud of

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, they it's no it's a very good looking site. Yeah, pictures look good. And what I'm thinking here is like if that was in oh nine, everybody had cameras on their phones but they weren't very good and now are probably just taking pictures with their phone whereas like back then you would have had to have an actual camera so that's part of the reason why there were just less food blogs out there too. It was

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh for sure

Jonathan Collaton:

it took more it took more effort than it does

Kristy Bernardo:

A lot more effort

Jonathan Collaton:

yes then it does a lot more ever.

Kristy Bernardo:

A lot more effort. I remember having to do a video for a couple different brands way back when and I had this little camera that I would put I mean it was awful and the videos were awful. I mean I don't know how I ever got jobs to be honest. I really don't. But um but yeah, so I did learn food photography. I think I got pretty good but that was never a process that I really enjoyed. It was really time consuming. My my house wasn't really set up for for properly for lighting and I did get some artificial lighting that was specifically for food photography and the right lighting temperature and different things. And I did that for years and I actually like I used to do food photography for all recipes calm that I've had some Little different side gigs over the years because of this food blog. And that was one of them. So, so yeah, so I have I photography was definitely a part of all of this. Having said that, just in like the last year, year and a half, I have started using stock photos, when I could find a photo that really completely fits my recipe, which happens pretty often, to be honest, I mean, if I made brownies, you know, as long as they're about the same thickness, and you know, I definitely want the end product to look just like what I made.

Jonathan Collaton:

Well, I'm sure if I google brownies, I can find like 2000 pictures of brownies. So

Kristy Bernardo:

Oh, for sure. Yeah. So I do use stock photos when I can these days. But I also take my photos myself if I if I need to. And then I do also a lot of work with different brands, developing recipes. And I always take the photos myself if it's for a brand, like, that's just non negotiable. That has to happen. So So I still probably do 75% Okay, is mine. But I will say that being a food blogger is so much more challenging and time consuming than maybe the average person might realize, yeah, there's so much that goes into it. And so I just realized that if I could cut out just that one thing. You know, I could focus on maybe some of the more technical back end things that I just don't have time to do.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, so anyway, that was that was a long tangent. We just got on there. But you were right. Yeah. You were talking about this gig. And I know this. Yeah,

Kristy Bernardo:

this is gonna be like a two I'm sorry, readers, or I mean,

Jonathan Collaton:

Listen!

Kristy Bernardo:

I'm sorry, listeners. I'm sorry. Let's, uh, my readers, you have listeners? Exactly. I'm sorry, listeners, I can talk. That's the Midwestern girl and me, I think,

Jonathan Collaton:

So can I that's why I have a podcast.

Kristy Bernardo:

Well, that's why we had such a good conversation. The first time we talked.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, we should point this out that we are strangers who met through the internet, because I didn't say this at the beginning. But you posted on a....you had a podcasting question. And I responded, and we got talking. And we set up a chat like a video chat like we're doing now. And we talked for an hour and 15 minutes we never met before. So

Kristy Bernardo:

I know! I thought it was gonna be maybe a 30 minute conversation. Yeah, well, and and I would also just like to point out that the reason that we even got to that point was because so I had an opportunity to potentially do my own podcast. And so I had posted on Reddit, for some help. And you were the only person that responded to me, but you were so incredibly helpful. And so then we sort of pm a couple times, because I wanted to check out your podcast and, you know, maybe promoted or whatever. And then we ended up here, which is really kind of cool.

Jonathan Collaton:

I know.

Kristy Bernardo:

again, again, that is an example of networking, and I guess, kind of being in the right place at the right time. And maybe one of the positives of the internet.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, yeah, for sure. And, you know, it's funny when you were talking about, like, all this backend technical side of like, the challenge of being a food blogger and how much work it is that people might not realize. I think in the modern day, people think that you can download the anchor app and hit record and record a podcast and publish it and that's, that's all you have to do. But that's gonna be a garbage podcast, right? Like you got to put in some work in the back end to make it good so so that's why I spend my time on Reddit trying to like talk to other people but the technical side as well.

Kristy Bernardo:

Right? Yeah, well, and you know, honestly, that's a big part of why I ultimately ended up passing on doing my own podcast only because I do already have so much work that's backlog Yeah, my food blog like so much work and I actually have a second site now as well that I'm trying to get really off the ground. And so you know, I just thought man learning all this new technical stuff and focusing on this I just don't think I can do it. So yeah, but I want to have one at some point in the future. I have some some ideas for what I might be able to do. So we'll see.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, very cool.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right. So let's get back to your your get paid to go to California for for this trip. And at that point you up till then at least you had said a lot of the things you're doing like it wasn't a lot of money you were making, but I imagine no getting paid to go to California. There's more money in that.

Kristy Bernardo:

Well, I wasn't paid to go to California.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, okay

Kristy Bernardo:

but I but I was sent for an amazing experience where they wined and dined us and I learned about pomegranates and I did get one heck of a lot of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay,

Kristy Bernardo:

then and after. I worked with them for quite a while and I think back in those days, I don't remember if it was paid work or not if it was, it wasn't much. But that's kind of how it was in those days where you weren't paid. But honestly, I was stoked because I was getting free product. Like I remember, a couple of my friends came to visit me for a night. And I just happened to have a new blender. And these like Margarita mixes and smoothie mixes delivered when they were there by this brand. I don't even remember the name of the brand. But I was like, Oh my god, how cool is this? Like, I was getting free stuff. And now I get a margarita with my friends just because of my food blog. So I thought it was the best thing ever. Yeah. And I have always said over the past what what is it now? 12 years? No...Yeah. 12 years. 13 years.

Jonathan Collaton:

Time flies

Kristy Bernardo:

12 years. I don't even know what year it is right now. Yeah, but I've always said through every stage of the process that if this is as good as as it gets, I'm good. I'm happy, you know. And so I think if it had just stayed that where I was getting some free stuff now and then that would have been great. But as it turned out, it did get better. And over the last 12 years. Well, well, first of all, to kind of jump back into that story about that dinner I had sponsored by food boss. So Julia was the personal chef. And her boyfriend at the time was no Ryan, the photographer, and they lived in Middleburg. Well, they decided that they know they weren't moving, Julia was taking a new job. And so she was giving up her personal chef clients. And she wanted to know if I wanted to take them on and become a personal chef. And so of course, I was thrilled, but also a little terrified. But so I did end up taking them on it was only two clients at the time, I did end up getting a few more. But yeah, I I ran my little personal chef business where I would I would shop for the groceries and I would go into their homes, most of the time they weren't there it was while they were at work. And I would cook all their meals for the week, however many they had ordered usually five, and then I would store it in the refrigerator clean up and go home. And that was my job. Oh, yeah. And I could do that while the girls were in school. Because at this point, you know, they were at least kindergarten. At least I don't remember the exact timeline of it all. But yeah, so it worked out great. And worst case, I brought them with me because I could put a movie on and they could, you know, watch a movie while mom was working. And it's pretty easy. So So I did that

Jonathan Collaton:

From a purely like, making it a full time career kind of perspective. You know, from going from the food blog that you had where you said, you know, if you got free stuff and brands like that was great. That was all you really how how could you ask for more? But then obviously, as you said, it got better over time. Was it like a sub significant sort of raise, I guess, financially to suddenly be doing the personal chef business as well? Like, did that really bump up the income you were making?

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, for sure. For sure. But I will say that I ended up leaving that. Because my bog had taken off so much. And I had actually gotten a gahhh. I don't know, I don't know that. I'm trying to remember how the timeline of all this went. But I had gotten a an email from the PR guy for a company called Simply Potatoes. And they're based in Minneapolis. They're a nationwide brand. It's like, it's like, ready made mashed potatoes in the refrigerated section. And they were looking for a national spokesperson. And, of course, I was just super, super excited and wanted this really badly. Because that was really good money. That was really good money. And I in fact, I still miss that money to the day. But yeah, so I ended up at that point. I didn't know how to negotiate for something like that. I didn't know what kind of dollar number to ask for I was completely out of my element. So what happened was, I had gone on to lammott Valley, Oregon with the National egg board. Oh, maybe a year or two before this. And Jeffrey Saad is, was and maybe still is the National egg board spokesperson. And if you don't know who Jeffrey Saad is, he was the runner up on Next Food Network Star. And he had a couple different shows on the cooking channel. Really fantastic guy. Wish him so much success. I don't know anyone nicer. But anyway, so I met Jeffrey on that tour. And I wouldn't say we became friends, but we were strongly tied acquaintances, I would say I mean, like our cell numbers were in each other's phones kind of thing. So I called him because I knew that he was a spokesperson, and I thought maybe he could give me some advice. And he did. And in fact, he said, I think you should talk to my agent, because he's the one that can really help you with this. So that's how I got an agent. So Tim Kessler from TKO media, became my agent. And he negotiated for me and we got the deal. And I ended up being the spokesperson for simply potatoes for three or four years.

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

So this sounds like this really ramped up from like, part time, you know, some money on the side food blog while, you're a stay at home mom, and then all of a sudden, like, you've it's, it's a career and you're making good money out of it.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah. And no one was more surprised than me. I'm telling you, it was all just so crazy. I couldn't believe my luck and my fortune that I had. You know, thanks children for you know, yeah, for for letting me do this. They deserve all the credit. So yeah, so so that happened. I ended up getting chosen to co judge in, professionally filmed show, sponsored by Lactaid in LA. So I flew out there. And my fellow judges were Chef Lala, and Chef Marlon Alexander, who had just come off touring with KISS. He's KISS' band chef, Chef, Merlin's another great, great person. And so we were the three judges, I was the token blogger, and they had a lot more clout and career experience. But I'm sure they could probably pay me a lot less than them. So. But it was it was a blast. And then that job went so well. And I loved everybody on set. So well. And the people that worked for that PR company turned around and said, Hey, we want to do another with you. But this time, we want you to be the host, and we're just going to have different bloggers come in and make a dash and you're gonna so yeah, so they, they weren't sure where it was gonna be filmed yet. And I suggested Hawaii because Yeah, why wouldn't you? I mean, right. And then they came back and said, Actually, you know what, we have the perfect place, your house? And I was like, No, no, I'm gonna go to some exotic location. I don't want to stay home. But so yeah, so we ended up doing that. And, and that was a really, really amazing, cool experience. Because like, they come in the whole camera crew, and they clear all the furniture out and they put like cardboard down to, you know, protect everything. And, and it was just fun. It was so fun. The crew was amazing. And, of course, I knew a couple of them before before shout out to Kristin, and the PRF and Adam, but yeah, it just was a really, really fun experience. So that happened. And yeah, just was kind of crazy. How it all went down. So

Jonathan Collaton:

yeah, you just, it was like just a runaway train. It just wants to pick up steam. It just kept going. And yeah, and that's, if I'm not incorrected, that's what brings you to where you are today.

Kristy Bernardo:

It does, it does. And I I'll tell you, I still kind of look back sometimes. And I I pinch myself because for someone who didn't even know how to cook when I resigned from HR to raise kids to now 12 years later. And also in the last four in the last four years. I've also published five cookbooks.

Jonathan Collaton:

Oh, yeah, of course. I totally forgot about that part.

Kristy Bernardo:

Yeah, so there's that whole thing too. So yeah, so it's, it's been a it's been a really wild ride. But I will say that, you know, for someone like me who didn't have any direction, who really struggled as a teenager, you know, to come all this way. And to have made my parents so proud of me is really better than anything. Else, it really is. so perfect.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, well, I think we're gonna end it there then because that's a really nice sentiment to end on. So Kristy, thank you so much for sharing that whole story on the podcast today.

Kristy Bernardo:

It was absolutely My pleasure. I'm so glad to have been here and I wish your podcast so much luck, I will definitely be listening.

Jonathan Collaton:

Alright, so that is Khristy's career path, or at least her career path so far. I don't think she's going to make any major pivots down the road, but I guess you never really know. Now before we get to the lessons of this episode, I want everyone to know that I'm a man of my word. And I did in fact, get tacos within mere hours of recording my interview with Khristy. My wife and I were driving around Toronto viewing apartments and when we parked by one, it was fate. Right in front of us was Gus tacos, and they were amazing. And I wanted you all to know that. Now that that's out of the way, what can we learn from Kristy's career journey. In some of my interviews, I end up coming up with a bunch of smaller lessons, things that I learned from the person I'm speaking to, but with Christie, I really am walking away with one very large lesson, which is that you should always be willing to take on new challenges. Kristy's whole career story is just new challenge after new challenge, think back to her rise through the retail ranks. After five promotions in five months, at 20 years of age, she took on the role of store manager with three days notice in another city. And that was just a pitstop because she was actually prepping to take on the store manager role in another state entirely. At 20 years old, there's no breezing through that experience. But Kristy didn't turn it down because it would be difficult. She tried it and she excelled at it. Not too long after she realized she needed to change. So she moved to the west coast and found her way into a part time receptionist job at a payroll company. Now moving all the way to the other side of the country is one challenge. But within one month at that payroll company, she was given the opportunity to become a payroll specialist. And what did she do, she rose to that challenge and became a very, very good payroll specialist, good enough that she never struggled to find new jobs when her family moved around, and good enough that it led her to become the Vice President of human resources for Wahoos Fish Taco many years later. And then one of my favorite challenges that comes up in this story is her changing family dynamic when she took on the new challenge as a stay at home mom. Sure the pays not that good. But any mom will tell you that that's a job. And it's certainly very challenging. And what was so interesting for her was that she had to basically learn how to cook in that role, because she was a foodie and knew she wasn't going to be able to go out and eat all the time. And I think we can all agree that the challenge of learning to cook for Kristy t rned out pretty well. Well, K isty started her food blog ju t for her. And you know, she sa d maybe her mom would be re ding about what recipes she wa making each week. Everything sh did after that was just ac epting one challenge after an ther. She accepts an offer to ta e on clients as a personal ch f. Then she challenged he self to learn food ph tography, because she knew it wa important for the blog. Then sh accepted the challenge of be ng a national spokesperson fo simply potatoes. Then she wa the judge on a TV show, then a ost of her own show, and five co kbooks later, here we are. Th interesting thing to me is th t when we think of career pa hs, a lot of people want to ta e on challenges that will he p them on the path they're al eady on. But Christie, on the ot er hand, was always willing to take on any new challenge th t presented itself, even when it wasn't directly related to wh t she might be doing at that ti e. But in each case, it ended up putting her in a better and be ter spot in her own career. No , maybe you the listener are st uggling with your own career. An maybe you feel stagnant or th ngs just seem repetitive or yo 're unmotivated. And if th t's the case, be like Ch istie and challenge yourself. Ma e your own version of a food bl g and maybe it will open up a wo ld of possibility you could no have predicted and that is so e of what I learned from Kr sty today. A bit of news on my end is that after seeing the massive success that Kristy has on Pinterest where she gets literally millions of hits per month, I have gone and created a Pinterest account for the podcast. It is very barren at the moment, but I'll be adding the episode our work to it over time. So if Pinterest is your social media of choice, look up Career Crossroads while you're there. For all our other social media accounts, you can find them linked at career Crossroads podcast.com, where you can also subscribe to the podcast for free on whichever podcast app you're comfortable with. And while you're there, please consider leaving a review if you enjoyed the show. Lastly, one of my hopes for the show is that it will help people who are struggling with what to do about their own career, figure out which path maybe they should head down. So if you know someone who would benefit from hearing Christy's story, do me a favor and share with them. Come back for next week's interview with Jessica, who was on the path to a long career in student affairs at a university but pivoted and now works for a house of friendship, a nonprofit organization that provides food housing and addiction treatment to those in need.