When it comes to food, Susie Fogelson is no “lightweight” folks -- despite what her slender figure may suggest. As Senior Vice President of “Marketing & Brand Strategy” at "Food Network" and "Cooking Channel," Susie knows her way around the television viewer, the consumer, and the kitchen and she has been sharing her passion for all three, rather adeptly, since she joined the Scripps Networks Interactive family in 2001.
A seasoned “food” connoisseur and proponent for “healthy living,” Susie sheds some light on what it is like to be at the forefront of the Food Network and Cooking Channel brands while balancing both family and self. And “impressed,” you will be, I assure you. The lady is just plain “smart,” folks. So much so, infact, that you will probably experience an “Aha” moment - like the one I did - at the conclusion of your reading her interview.
“What’s an Aha moment,” you may ask?
An Aha moment is one of those uplifting moments when you suddenly realize why certain things “happen to be” -- in this case, why Food Network and Cooking Channel just happen to be two of the most successful television ventures to-date and certainly since their inception in 1993 and 2010. Obviously the ‘powers-that-be’ at Food Network and Cooking Channel are cooking-with-gas when it comes to choosing - not only their chefs - but their underlying team, as well. As people and professionals go, Susie Fogelson is “Grade A!”
Enjoy getting to know Susie Fogelson through this in-depth interview. No doubt, Susie’s answers will help to explain why so many of us, foodies, find Food Network and Cooking Channel so darn addictive.
In the words of Susie Fogelson:
As a little girl, what was the first thing you ever wanted to be when you grew up?
A DOCTOR, LIKE MY DAD.
You graduated with a BA in Sociology from UCLA. How did the studies behind earning this degree help you in your work at "Food Network" and "Cooking Channel" today?
MY DEGREE IN SOCIOLOGY REALLY GAVE ME A FOUNDATION IN OBSERVATION, RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS – ALL KEY INGREDIENTS TO CRAFTING AND EXECUTING STRATEGIC AND EFFECTIVE MARKETING PLANS. UNDERSTANDING CONSUMER TRENDS IS AKIN TO THE STUDY OF SOCIAL AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR; I THINK ANYONE IN MARKETING WOULD AGREE THAT KNOWING AND UNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIENCE/CUSTOMER IS ESSENTIAL TO BEING AN EFFECTIVE MARKETER.
You, obviously, maintain an intense schedule being a mom, wife, and high-level professional. When you feel yourself falling to the stress and the pressure of it all, what is the one thing you do that helps put you back on course?
I TRY TO DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL MOST DAYS, USING EXERCISE TO DECOMPRESS AND SPEND SOME MORE QUALITY TIME WITH MY FAMILY. I LOVE BIKING OR SCOOTERING AROUND THE PARK WITH MY GIRLS OR EVEN A VIGOROUS WALK AROUND THE BLOCK OR A QUICK TRIP TO THE GYM WILL HELP KEEP ME CENTERED.
What is the one food item that you always have in the house and cook regularly with?
MY HOUSE IS NEVER WITHOUT AT LEAST TWO KINDS OF HOT SAUCE.
Is there a food item you absolutely hate?
ITALIAN RAINBOW CAKE
Describe a normal dinner at your home.
WE HAVE A GREAT OPEN KITCHEN IN OUR APARTMENT IN BROOKLYN, AND THIS CREATES A GREAT SETTING FOR THE FAMILY TO COME TOGETHER TO PREPARE AND ENJOY A MEAL. SO MUCH OF WHAT I DO IS ABOUT FOOD AND THAT DOESN’T STOP WHEN I WALK THROUGH MY FRONT DOOR. AS FOOD NETWORK AND COOKING CHANNEL HELP BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER WITH FOOD AS THE CENTERPIECE, SO IT DOES WITH MY FAMILY AT THE END OF DAY WHERE YOU CAN USUALLY FIND ME PREPARING DINNER WITH SOME HELP FROM MY DAUGHTERS AND HUSBAND. IT’S A GREAT WAY TO UNWIND FROM THE DAY AND ALSO FIND OUT ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE’S DAY.
Does ‘organic’ truly matter in your opinion?
AS THE MOTHER OF TWO DAUGHTERS, I AM ALWAYS TRYING TO FEED THEM THE MOST NUTRITIOUS AND HEALTHY MEALS SO, IN THAT RESPECT, UNDERSTANDING ORGANIC OPTIONS AND WHAT THAT MEANS IN TERMS OF THE FOOD YOU ARE SERVING IS ESSENTIAL. BEING EDUCATED ON WHAT CONSTITUTES ORGANIC AND HOW THAT IMPACTS THE FOOD YOU BUY AND PREPARE HELPS ENSURE YOU ARE MAKING THE BEST DECISIONS FOR YOUR FAMILY. IN LIFE, I THINK YOU NEED TO BE ORGANIC IN WHO YOU ARE – HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOUR PHILOSOPHIES ARE; BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF WILL HELP TO ENSURE THAT THE MESSAGE YOU ARE DELIVERING TO STAFF AND COLLEAGUES RINGS TRUE.
Is it difficult for you to go out to eat, given that you are surrounded by so many incredible chefs and top-notch food?
NOT DIFFICULT AT ALL. I LOVE TO GO OUT TO EAT-- WHETHER IT IS TO A NEW RESTAURANT OPENED BY ONE OF OUR TALENTED “ON-AIR” CHEFS OR A NEW RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION RECEIVED FROM A FRIEND. DINING OUT IS A GREAT WAY TO GET TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY. NEW YORK, ESPECIALLY, HAS SO MANY WIDE-RANGING FOOD OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM. I THINK BEING SURROUNDED BY SO MANY INCREDIBLE CHEFS HAS ONLY HELPED TO EXPAND MY FOOD KNOWLEDGE AND PALATE. THE ONLY THING DIFFICULT IS HOW MANY CHOICES THERE ARE!
"Food Network" and "Cooking Channel" are masters of the “face-off” cooking show. What four individuals – alive or dead and not chefs – would you love to see face off given the opportunity?
I’D LOVE TO SEE THE LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW GUYS GO HEAD TO HEAD IN THE KITCHEN. HOW AMAZINGLY FUNNY WOULD JIMMY FALLON, STEPHEN COLBERT, JON STEWART, CONAN O’BRIEN OR JIMMY KIMMEL BE ON "CHOPPED?"
Lots of networks have jumped on the Scripps bandwagon, touting their own cooking shows and their own chefs. How do you keep the "Food Network" and "Cooking Channel" shows, talent, and brand fresh as oppose to getting “lost in the sauce” amongst the competition?
BOTH OF OUR NETWORKS OFFER 24/7 PROGRAMMING THAT IS CREATIVELY FOCUSED AROUND FOOD. THAT IS A KEY DIFFERENTIATOR THAT AUTOMATICALLY SETS US APART FROM OUR COMPETITION. ADDITIONALLY, OUR TALENT - MANY OF WHOM HAVE BEEN ON THE NETWORK FOR YEARS - ARE BELOVED BY OUR VIEWERS. ON TOP OF THE NETWORK BEING A FAN FAVORITE, SO ARE OUR “ON-AIR” PERSONALITIES. OUR FOCUS ON DOING WHAT WE DO BEST (DELIVERING DELICIOUSLY ENTERTAINING PROGRAMMING ALONG WITH SHOWCASING “ON-AIR” TALENT THAT FANS HAVE GROWN TO LOVE) KEEPS OUR AUDIENCE COMING BACK FOR MORE.
What is your personal mantra?
STAY POSITIVE. IT ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO ATTITUDE.
When all is said and done, what do you want to be most remembered for?
I THINK MOST PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW AND BE REMEMBERED FOR HAVING AN IMPACT -- FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE...BE IT IN THE LIVES OF THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS AND/OR IN THEIR CAREERS. IN THAT RESPECT, I HOPE FOR THE SAME -- TO BE REMEMBERED AS A POSITIVE INFLUENCE AND FORCE FOR MY DAUGHTERS AS THEY CONTINUE ON IN THEIR LIVES AS WELL AS IN HELPING TO BUILD A BRAND THAT, 20+ YEARS LATER, CONTINUES TO BE A GAME CHANGER.
What is one thing you would like to accomplish in your life for Susie and Susie alone?
MY LIFE IS VERY LOUD AND I FEEL I’VE GOTTEN USED TO IT SO I’D LIKE TO TRAVEL ‘ALONE’ FOR A BIT AND GET COMFORTABLE WITH QUIET AND SOLITUDE.
Are you formally or informally affiliated with any social cause or charitable organization?
SINCE 2007, “SHARE OUR STRENGTH” HAS BEEN FOOD NETWORK’S EXCLUSIVE NATIONAL PHILANTHROPIC PARTNER, AND THEREFORE AN ORGANIZATION THAT IS NEAR AND DEAR TO ME IN THEIR COMMITMENT TO ENDING CHILDHOOD HUNGER. "SHARE OUR STRENGTH’S ‘NO KID HUNGRY’ PROGRAM" CONNECTS KIDS IN NEED TO EFFECTIVE NUTRITION PROGRAMS - LIKE SCHOOL BREAKFAST AND SUMMER MEALS - AND TEACHES LOW-INCOME FAMILIES TO COOK HEALTHY, AFFORDABLE MEALS. IT’S MY ONGOING GOAL FOR THE NETWORK TO PROVIDE A NATIONAL PLATFORM AND VOICE FOR "SHARE OUR STRENGTH," BRINGING THEIR MESSAGE OF ‘NO KID HUNGRY’ HOME TO OUR VIEWERS AND ENCOURAGING ACTION ON BEHALF OF THEIR MISSION AND OBJECTIVES.
Thank you to Susie Fogelson and Food Network for making this interview possible.
How Susie Fogelson Keeps Us Craving "Food Network" & "Cooking Channel"