Our Staff

John Merrill, General Manager

John Merrill Food in Bloom General Manager From the age of sixteen, John was drawn to the energy of the food and beverage world. He began his career on the Las Vegas Strip, working his way up through every position in restaurants and rubbing shoulders with some of the most famous chefs in the country. After graduating from UNLV with a degree in Hospitality and Business Management, John quickly found himself traveling the country, consulting and opening new venues with a variety of cuisines. Settling back home, he took over the reins as the Catering and Operations Manager for all of the Wolfgang Puck restaurants and off-premise events in the Las Vegas area. He went on to become the General Manager for Steve Wynn’s new restaurant, Society. Inspired by the outstanding cuisine and fresh, organic products of the Northwest, John recently relocated to Portland with his wife Carrie, a Pastry Chef, to seek out the next chapter in their exciting careers.

Paul Bosch, Executive Chef

Biography coming soon!

Elizabeth Roberts, Marketing & Sales

elizabeth headshot final Born into a family of travelers, Elizabeth grew up sampling the world’s cuisines, from China and Australia to Mississippi and Argentina. Eventually finishing up her formative years in Southern Oregon, Elizabeth took jobs in the food industry as soon as she was old enough: back of house, front of house and even running community gardens in between. Marketing and event planning is a job that taps into her prior experience in baking and managing bakeries (Pearl Bakery and Little T American Baker), handling marketing and product development for an organic beverage company, running sustainability programs, and even teaching, which she has a Masters in. She feels fortunate to work with some of the best chefs around and is happy to bring their cuisine to Portland tables.

Annessa Hartman, Event Planner

annessa headshot final As a little girl Annessa always found interest in planning events. Often she could be found making dinner menus for her pretend restaurant and coordinating talent shows for her friends. While planning her high school prom, she discovered that she could make a career out of her passion! After high school she immediately enrolled in the hospitality program at Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles. There she explored her passion for fine dining and exceptional service. After graduating she began working at a prestigious Los Angeles catering company, Patina Restaurant Group. During her tenure at Patina, she planned and executed events at some of Los Angeles’ most celebrated venues, including The LA Music Center and Hollywood Bowl. Annessa’s next venture took place in Long Beach, CA at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

She then became a mother, gained experience in the hotel industry, became a mother for the second time, and led the sales department for Maverick’s Catering. Recently, she and her husband picked up the family and said ‘good bye’ to California and ‘hello’ to Portland, OR to pursue new and exciting opportunities. Annessa’s passion for local organic foods, live music, macaroons and farmers markets, make Portland a perfect fit for her and her family; epitomizing her favorite inspirational quote by Bob Marley, “ “Love the life you live, live the life you love.”

Mary Clare Adame, Event Planner

 mary clare headshot final biography coming soon!

Mellisa Shapland, Event Planner

 mellisa headshot final Starting out in Portland radio as a producer Mellisa learned that her ability to anticipate needs and organize others was a strength. Her second career as an Event Planner began when her children started school – by helping other busy moms plan and cook for social functions. She channeled the domestic abilities of her grandmother and the culinary flair of her mom (a Cordon Bleu trained chef) in a casual and elegant style that quickly became a business known for its high quality cuisine and service.

To sharpen her cooking abilities Mellisa studied at The Chef Studio under Chef Robert Reynolds and had the opportunity to travel with his class to study in France. For over ten years Mellisa owned a boutique style catering kitchen and eventually a store-front in NW Portland. Mellisa also provided consult work for other local kitchens in building menus and catering programs. As a native Oregonian her ties in the community run deep. Her attention to detail and passion for food, hospitality and all things aesthetic drive her style. Mellisa lives in NW Portland with her two teenage kids in a house full of cookbooks.

Justin Saylor, Office Manager, Marketing Assistant & Venue Representative at Montgomery Park

justin headshot final Justin has been involved in the Portland restaurant community since he relocated to Oregon in 2002. Originally from Northern Idaho and growing up on a dairy farm, Justin has been drawn to institutions that understand and utilize fresh, local, and ‘from-scratch’ concepts. Taking his foodie passion and combining his sales, marketing, and administrative skills, he’s had the opportunity to work for several of Portland’s most revered and unique restaurants. An avid long distance runner and yoga instructor, Justin brings high energy to the Food in Bloom office.

Stephanie Crawford, Operations Manager

Stephanie Head Shot Stephanie is a stickler for detail and the fine points of hospitality. She brings to bear her twenty years of hospitality experience and degree in Art Appreciation to address and overcome all of the logistical and aesthetic challenges every event faces. She led the service staff at A La Carte Event Pavilion, Tampa Bay, Florida’s premier catering company. She managed the events facility and helped contribute to record sales and revenue during her tenure. She managed a variety of events and they were as diverse as: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl ring ceremony, the Patel families’ 800 hundred person two-day traditional Indian wedding celebration, the retirement party for CentCom commander General Tommy Franks retirement party to the Debartolo Family Foundations 1200 person five-course plated fundraising dinner.

She and her husband moved to Portland and pursue their passion for local and organic food and sustainable practices. She has spent the last six years honing her hospitality skills and developing her knowledge of local and sustainable practices, as the Catering Director of Artemis Foods. Always looking to take on new and greater challenges, we’re excited to have Stephanie on our team.

Kyle Kornegay, Venue Representative at Exchange Ballroom

Kyle was born abroad in Germany, then his family relocated to Portland when he was 6 and he’s been here ever since. Kyle did not grow up in a household of people that were daring food enthusiasts, so during his adolescent years, he explored Portland and discovered the abundant food options that the city has to offer. He began to cultivate his palette and hasn’t looked back! After graduating from high school and attending classes at Portland Community College, he started working for Salvador Molly’s Catering as a Server, which grew into Vibrant Table Catering & Events. Within six months, he was promoted to Event Manager and started running large scale and detailed events. Over the years, Kyle has dabbled in various roles within the company and ultimately found his niche in executing flawless events.

Kyle has watched VT Group grow and thrive as a company. He enjoys the quality of the food each company delivers, the dedication of the staff and the creativity everyone brings to the table. Kyle took on the fast paced role of Venue Sales Representative for VT Group’s fourth exclusive venue, the Exchange Ballroom & Cascade Rooftop, this past January. He enjoys being able to work with Food in Bloom Catering , Vibrant Table Catering & Events and f&b cafe and catering. He also likes the atmosphere of the Eastside Exchange building, which includes some of Portland’s most diverse and design oriented companies.

Anna Espiritu, Venue Representative at Lan Su Chinese Garden

 anna headshot final Biography coming soon!

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