By Caroline Brooks
In the early 2000s, Elizabeth Suvedi (BA Marketing ’01) lived the typical life of a Broad College of Business student: she worked hard, participated in extra-curricular activities, and had big dreams of working for one of the companies highly sought after by her Broad peers. Ambitiously, she chased her dreams and found success in the corporate world. Fast-forward to 2016: Suvedi has traded in her power suit for a chef’s hat.
“I always had a knack for cooking. In college, I would bring my friends to my parents’ house and try new recipes on them. Throughout my career I kept it as a hobby, but the desire to start a culinary business was heating up inside of me,” Suvedi explained.
For over 15 years, she worked in human resources consulting for companies like Willis Towers Watson, Motorola, Ford, Whirlpool, and Amway. Oftentimes working long hours each week, Suvedi and her husband (whom she met at Michigan State) knew they needed to strike a more realistic balance for their growing family. Suvedi transitioned to different roles in her professional career, but didn’t feel totally fulfilled. “I hit a point where I needed to make a more impactful change,” she said.
An avid world traveler, Suvedi took a trip to New Zealand in 2014. There, she had time to think things through and hit a reset button. She returned, quit her job, and decided to formally make her passion her profession. Suvedi created Culinary Expedition later that year, which combines the love of food, social engagement, wellness, and culture and travel. Culinary Expedition has already demonstrated success across many broad aspects of the culinary world, including guest chef events at restaurants, private chef services, cooking classes, and culinary trips. Suvedi draws from her world travels to inspire dishes and experiences for her clients and events, and makes events a social function, not just food preparation.
Beyond classes, one of Culinary Expedition’s niches and innovative areas is culinary medicine. Suvedi partners with a physician, and together they educate about eating and cooking for optimal health. “With the current state of health in America, people are really looking to make positive changes – and how people eat plays a major role in their overall health and wellness,” she said. With the popularity of her four-part “You Are What You Eat” series, Suvedi hopes to continue educating on culinary medicine.
After garnering media coverage and success across the state of Michigan (links below), Suvedi took another international trip, which once again brought her career to a tipping point. “I went to Italy to get inspired and began a whole new chapter for Culinary Expedition. We have a group trip planned for New York in the spring, where we will spend time in Manhattan and in the beautiful upstate New York exploring different foods and sightseeing.” Suvedi partners with a travel agency and draws upon her own first-hand research to plan trips that are not only educational, but engaging.
With big plans ahead and miles from where her career began, Suvedi draws upon her learnings at Broad College of Business and from the corporate world. “In my career, I constantly challenge myself to respond ‘yes’ to the daunting question of ‘can I do it?’ There’s something very rewarding about accomplishing something you didn’t think was possible, no matter the scale. When your passion is driving you, it does not feel like work.
To see Suvedi in action, follow the links below to media clips, or visit http://www.culinaryexpedition.com/
WZZM (ABC): Weekend Adventure with Culinary Expedition
WoodTV (eight West; NBC): Za’atar: A Culinary Expedition to the Mediterranean