Gretchen VanEsselstyn has been the director of education at the Specialty Food Association for eight years, helping to launch hundreds of specialty food brands along the way. She has received a James Beard Award Nomination in Culinary Journalism; a first place trophy in the National Pork Board Editor’s Recipe Contest; and a Table 4 Writers Foundation Award in memory of Elaine Kaufman for her short story, “Flour, Butter, Lemon, Heat,” and got to dance with Tony Danza and Dr. Ruth Westheimer at the award reception. A former magazine editor and line cook, she is also a Qualified Teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and a strong advocate for mental health in the food industry.
Megan Rooney is the education specialist at Specialty Food Association, where she assists in the development of educational offerings such as weekly webinars and in-person and virtual events. Her writing is featured in SFA News Daily articles and SFA Community Hub blog posts. Prior to SFA, Megan worked for American Pet Products Association, The Windward School, and New York Mets. She holds a BA in Communication with a minor in Global Studies from Marist College and a MST in Childhood Education from Pace University. She currently lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and enjoys wine and cheese, all things Disney, walks in Prospect Park, and riding her Peloton.
Julie Gallagher has been managing editor at the Specialty Food Association for five years, where she puts to paper the fascinating stories of the most inspirational, tenacious, and resourceful food entrepreneurs in the business. Her delicious foray into coverage of food was purely accidental when, with a background in technology writing, she joined Supermarket News 20 years ago as its editor of Technology & Logistics. She has since covered every food category under the sun and today writes for, edits, and oversees the production of Specialty Food magazine, SFA News Daily e-newsletter, SFA Feed app, and various Fancy Food Show print publications.
George Hajjar is the associate editor at the Specialty Food Association where he elevates crucial voices, trends, and news impacting the specialty food industry. In a previous life, George edited and developed textbooks and educational materials used by science students as well as future nurses and doctors. He graduated from NYU with a degree in English literature and creative writing. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, and enjoys writing about, cooking, and eating food.