Meet the FoodE Expert: Denise LeClaire
What is your background?
After attending college to become an interior designer, and years spent working in the hospitality and airline industries, I finally followed my passion for food and attended the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with many inspiring and talented chefs to learn the trade. Some of the memorable experiences include working at an inn in Vermont, the Telluride Film Festival, projects at the Culinary Institute of America, serving as a chef for a corporate guest house in Virginia and assisting with the start-up of a foodservice program for a private school in New York. The list is long and I am very grateful to have had such a variety of experiences. I joined the L&B team in 2006. Unbelievable! They say time flies when you are having fun!
What do you love most about being a FoodE Expert?
(This is a hard question to narrow down! There are so many things I love about being a FoodE!)
I enjoy learning the origins of our products and often times having the opportunity to meet the makers of those products. It really enhances our ability to inform our customers to make better decisions. I enjoy asking questions and listening to our customers to learn what their needs and wants are and in turn I am able to direct them to products and recipes to help them be successful in their culinary quest.
I enjoy seeing our regular customers and assisting them with daily needs and I also enjoy welcoming our new customers! I have worked in our store for 15 years, which means I’ve gotten to watch families grow and children grow up. I enjoy the relationships I have developed with our customers and store team and I look forward to working with the next generation of shoppers.
The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year! The stores get crazy busy and the customers are making their traditional fare or being adventuresome and trying new recipes. Oftentimes customers are always looking for that one specific item they’ve never heard of and we get to help them! I love that I can be there for them to help make those special occasions successful.
What new things do you hope to bring to Lunds & Byerlys?
I would like to think our ability to provide excellent products and services, with relationships developed along the way with our customers is what sets us apart in our industry. We all have to eat, so let’s eat well! I love to travel and I love to explore new cultures – food is such a strong part of culture, and I am grateful to have had such a variety of experiences and I hope that I bring some of those experiences back to our customers each and every day.
What is your favorite meal/snack solutions?
I try to keep a few staples in my pantry and refrigerator to ensure I am able to eat a good healthy meal or snack every day. A few items I keep handy are avocados, prosciutto, a tin of tuna, lemons, eggs, cilantro, salmon fillets, arugula, flatbread, cheese and tomatoes. An impromptu flatbread pizza with arugula salad on top, a variation of avocado toast with whatever else I find in the fridge, or a simple grilled salmon fillet are some of my favorite quick and easy meals anytime!