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SearchSmarter is a new, periodic series that will showcase emerging tools designed to make managing your job search (or career) easier, smarter and/or a lot less overwhelming. This week, Karen Friesen explored, a killer resource for all who want interesting, cool jobs within the food industry.


Go ahead. Call Taylor Cocalis Suarez and Dorothy Neagle “gastrognomes.” Not only will they politely decline your suggestion they urgently start a rigorous course of antibiotics, they proudly embrace their condition.

In the Cocalis-Neagle world, a “gastrognome” is simply “a jovial individual whose main purpose on earth is to connect people who derive pleasure from good food.”

That describes the pair perfectly.

The longtime best friends are the brains – and the heart – behind, a cool, growing website that sits at a delicious intersection of food, technology and (naturally) job search.

Why food?

As Cocalis (the name Taylor goes by for GFJ) puts it, “we eat several times a day,” and she has long enjoyed every aspect of the process – growing food, cooking, entertaining and sharing it.

“I always knew I wanted to work in food,” says Cocalis, who also happens to be deep in the trenches of starting a brewery with her husband. “But when you say ‘food job,’ everyone thinks ‘restaurants.’

“I realized there were many others that were also looking to apply their skills and interest in food into meaningful career paths. Dorothy and I created the site as a community space for folks to gather, learn, connect and take action.” launched in 2010, several years after Cocalis and Neagle (who met while students at Cornell) had each spent a few years venturing into careers. Cocalis had earned a Master in Food Culture, Neagle worked in design

They rejoined forces to build a business that, as their website tagline puts it, is “satisfying the hunger for meaningful work.”

So far, so good.

The site has grown to encompass 54,000 active users, assertively pairing food-loving career seekers with the jobs of their dreams. Since they first launched, the site has hosted over 15,000 job postings, and currently lists over 1,000 openings from all over the US, Canada and beyond.

What else makes great? Inspiration and education.

“In the sustainable food world, there are mainly two types of jobs: “super entry level and very advanced,” as Cocalis puts it. "That doesn’t leave a lot of room for established career changers who are looking to transition to food.”

The “Gastrognomes” blog section of the site (which could be the very coolest part of the entire website)  showcases people who are building careers in food; it aims to inspire those who are hungry to pave their own way.

(Pun intended)

Here, they share first-person insights from industry trailblazers like chocolate maker Patricia Tsai, herd manager Stephanie Fisher, and horticultural educator Mason Vollmer. And there are scores more, including documentary film makers (food-focused, of course), farmer’s market managers, restaurant owners, chefs, and food law attorneys.

Cocalis thinks the blog works in the way “it humanizes and fills in the story. Instead of just looking at the jobs, it puts a face and a story to them, and that makes people realize that their dreams are, indeed, possible.”

We love that about as well.

Other features of the GFJ site include educational resources for those looking to pursue a food specialty and video stories highlighting all sorts of food and farming pursuits.

“We always advocate that the best food-related positions are the ones that people create for themselves,” says Cocalis. “The field of sustainable food is its infancy. There is SO much opportunity. But there’s no set path. So the ones that have the most success are those that see a need or desire and fill it. And sometimes that takes a leap of faith.”

Her words of wisdom for food career seekers?

“Decide what it is you want to do and do it." 

"Whether that is roasting coffee beans, or setting up distribution channels, educating school kids on good food and farming, or growing your own items. There is just so much room for improvement in our food system.”

So if you're thinking food might be your thing...? Race on over to