Meet Our Team
Howdy! Want to know what farm those strawberries came from? Looking for a yummy way to use those bulk spices, or just want to catch up with what’s happening at the Co-op? Our friendly staff is always ready to answer any queries you may have and even recommend great locally grown ideas for dinner tonight.
Co-op Director/interim-General Manager/cycle hound/bringer of leftovers
Head Chef/Queen Bee of the Kitchen
Cashier/Queen of chip Stocking
Our new General Manager Zack Sheppard has a ton of Co-op experience and is so excited to join the team! He recently relocated from Virginia to SLO and we’re looking forward to expanding the Co-op’s goals together. Learn more about Zack by reading our June 2019 press release.
Tif, you’re always looking for the next fresh bite. Why do you love the Co-op?
It is my one-stop shop for the greatest, healthiest stuff around.
What's your go-to local wine for the holidays?
Tangent wine (my splurge)
Who’s your hero?
Our amazing local farmers. They inspire me everyday!
Aimee, Is it true you’re a farm girl?
I’ve lived on the Central Coast for 10 years. I'm from all over CA, though originally from the farmland of Iowa.
Co-op cravings: “Soyrizo" non meat sausage (great on pizza and omelets). I could go on, though!
You feel lucky to live here when you’re: Hanging at San Simeon Cove Beach, standup paddle boarding, bicycling.
Please tell us you have downtime! I do. I cook seasonal meals (especially with discounted Co-op produce). I'm training to run my 34th LA Marathon and I also try to get things to grow in my garden.
Surprising talents? I'm a world champion rock skipper. I've skipped at rivers, lakes and oceans on several continents and to date, no one has ever called me on my claim.
What are you pouring: I'm a Zin Zealot and love Opolo Zin.
Carol, you’ve lived in SLO for a minute! Yes, 41 years. Came out here for love and ended up at Cal Poly and a degree in Plant Pathology and Entomology.
How’d you get involved? I was a shopper/volunteer worker over at the Francis Street location for many years during the 80's. I was also a vendor.
Fave local goods? Joebella Coffee/Farmgirl Cheese/ Alle-pia Sausage.
When you need a break: Hike Reservoir Canyon (take a break halfway for the swing!)
Hobbies? Vegetable gardening, vermiculture., homeopathy. Myers-Briggs Personality.
Why do you love the Co-op? The Co-op consciously strives to avoid GMO's and support organic foods. We are encouraged to listen to our customer's product request, resulting in some of the best products we have in the store. In addition, I have never worked with such a hard-working group of employees in my life....seriously!
Surprising Talents: Licensed Acupuncturist.....I'm good at sticking it to people!
With stellar attention to detail and knack for leadership, Gwen is extremely valuable to the Co-op team! She’s the person who keeps our feet on the ground and keeps the wheels turning. As our Finance Manager, she oversees our budget, payables, planning and facilities. Thank goodness for Gwen.
Tatiana, have you always been a fab chef?
Even as a young child I was busy alchemizing any food stuffs into an ambrosial mass interesting enough to want to eat. I'll admit I was a very selective eater (my parents called it picky). I made my first-unsupervised, ahem, soup at five; my parents, aghast, said I was never to do that again!
When did you come to the Central Coast? I have cooked, eaten, loved and played, while managing a vegetarian restaurant in San Diego before relocating here 20 years ago.
When you’re not cooking, you’re: exploring nature and diverse cultures and languages; attempting Tango and Yoga, engaging with those interesting people on either end of the bell curve of life.
Culinary Quirks? I remain a very selective eater, and as Carol will attest to, I'm a perfectionist… But not a very good one!
Sara, Cats or dogs? Ask my cats, Agnes and Chunky.
Power snack: Local passion fruit on top of mixed berries. WOW.
Your chill place: Montana del Oro
When you’re not studying, you’re: doing yoga, reading, hiking, writing
What do you love most about working here? People here are so passionate about cultivating a thriving community and it’s really beautiful to witness. Also, the produce at the co-op makes me weep tears of joy. It’s unreal.
In your earbuds: Shakey Graves, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Drinking on the job? Always Whalebird Kombucha.
Grocery, Chill, and Bulk Buyer
Raymond, how’d you get so dang knowledgable? I’ve lived in SLO County my whole life! I worked at Grande Foods Market in Arroyo Grande and been in the health industry for nine years. I love this industry and the vibe and energy of
Recent meal masterpiece? Harmony
Farms pork chops (delish!) baby golden potatoes with Kerrygold butter and Bautista farms spring mix...damn good.
It’s the weekend. You’re: At a bonfire at Oceano beach, fishing the Avila Port, painting (when I have time + inspiration)
Listen/look/read: Santana, Frida Kahlo, Anne Rice.
What makes your heart happy? Our
customers...the vibe...most of all I really love my co-workers We have a good time!
Wellness/Herbs/Register/Grocery/Chill (a jack of all trades)
Grocery Support/Amateur Foodie
Herb Buyer/ Herb Lady
Point of Sale/Occasional Prankster
Cook/Back of House DJ
Marketing maven/Internet Magic
Keeper of the Books/ Slayer of the Synthesizer
Mover and Shaker
Chances are Chris not only knows what you like to stock up on each week, he also knows your name, the name of your kids, and your favorite hot sauce! Bestowed with a gift for gab, Chris loves engaging with the community. His enthusiastic attitude and genial laugh is totally contagious. You’ll see soon enough!
Ted, how did you get involved with the Co-op? I was a shopper, but also through Ecologistics (Central Coast Bioneers).
What do you do for fun? Reading, biking, hiking, meditation, ("Saving the world...(As Edward Abbey says, “everyone needs a hobby.”)
Why the Co-op? I believe in the principles and liike that we support local suppliers and really support our community. I enjoy the friendly camaraderie among staff.
Dream dinner party guests? Joni Mitchell, Susan Sontag, Gertrude Stein.
Surprising talents? The ability to make people laugh with me instead of at me. (P.S. Ray may disagree with me on this point!)
It’s closing time. You’re drinking: Libertine's Good Vibrations Golden Ale
Alana, What's the best thing you've made lately with Co-op goods? An amazing red curry with the Co-op’s best produce!! Broccoli, potatoes, garlic, zucchini, onion and kale (not sure if kale actually goes in curry but it was DELICIOUS!)
What's your favorite spot in SLO County? Sandspit beach in Montana de Oro!
Any interesting hobbies? I absolutely love to craft and hike, but most of all, I love being outside taking in all the beauty planet earth has to offer.
Cats, dogs or other? Dogs. 100% dogs, cats scare me…so do dogs sometimes, but DOGS!
Why do you love the Co-op? Has to be the people. All staff, sellers, members, and customers are outrageously kind, caring and so down to earth. The Co-op creates this beautiful community full of the most amazing humans and I am so happy that I can experience and be apart of it.
Hey Leah, what’s your fave spot in SLO County? There are many: Reservoir Canyon, Cerro Alto, beaches along the north county coast, the Dallidet Adobe Gardens are just a few.
Do you have a green thumb? It's more of a green-brown thumb. I would like to have a green thumb and love all of my plants but not all survive.
Go-to meal with local food? Simple and delicious: bok choy, zucchini and shitake mushrooms tossed with some pasta in olive oil.
Favorite season in SLO County? Early spring time for sure! I love the bright green colors after some good rain and the warm sunlight spring brings along.
Hey Judy, we hear you’re a real SLO County local! Yes, does 60 years count? : )
Who’s in your crew? 6 dogs, 3 cats, and 1 bearded dragon
Gotta try the: Nectarine syrup!
Fave musician? Eric Clapton
Happy place: The beach, always
On a perfect day off, you’re: gardening/crafting
Why do you love the Co-op? So many foodie items and the super fresh produce!
Paulina, where have you lived on the Central Coast? I’ve lived in Morro Bay, Cayucos, Los Alamos, Solvang and Nipomo. I’ve moved out of state a few times only to come back to this great place! After all, we have the best weather, best wine and best fruits and vegetables!
Any pets? My cat, Romeo. I adopted him on Valentine’s day. Turns out he is such a lover! We love to cuddle.
What does wellness mean to you? I believe health and wellness begins with eating a variety of healthy foods - there’s so many to choose from at the Co-op! Of course, supplements can help keep your body and immune strong and well nourished.
How can people take better control of their wellness? Mother Nature has provided us with simple solutions to most of our ailments we just need to learn about them. It’s truly fascinating. I’m very passionate about providing quality selections and sharing my product knowledge. So if you would like help finding something special, it will be my pleasure!
With a wide-ranging knowledge of herbs and spices, Teresa is an incredible asset to our team. If you’ve ever wondered about medicinal herbs, teas, and remedies, Teresa is the one to ask. Take a peek at Teresa’s wall of astounding glass mason jars, located in our Wellness section. Each jar contains a different herb ready to spice up your dinner, soothe your spirit, or heal your soul.
Patrick, what’s your Co-op go-to? A simple yet delicious Caesar salad
Where do you like to kick back outside? My mom’s backyard in Atascadero
Fave author? Michael Crichton
Fave locally made good? Libertine beer and Cattaneo Brothers
Why do you love the Co-op: That’s easy. The people!
Hey Margaux, what’s your fave SLO spot? Montana de Oro, anywhere with live music playing, little secret spots (and mountain tops).
Are you handy? I enjoy learning new skills: trying to carve a spoon, learning to embroider, dehydrating persimmons, learning a new instrument. I really pride myself on being self-reliant and knowing how to do lots of things. If you can't fix it, it’s not truly yours.
Why do you love the Co-op? I love having the ability to access all these local goodies while cutting down on waste. The bulk department is my best friend!
Share a secret? I have a pretty intense sweet tooth. I can eat a fruit tart on my own in one sitting. I'm trying to fix this though!
Like many fans of the Co-op, Hayley Cain was a shopper and cheerleader before she joined the team (and is still an avid shopper and cheerleader, although her high kicks could use some work). She writes about the intersection of food, flavor, and ag for Slo New Times and is a fan of raw fish, old typewriters, and punk rock shows. She has four chickens and two small dogs. Her favorite thing about the Co-op, besides the people? The fresh spring mix salad, bulk black beans, and locally raised natural meats.
Robert is a musician, writer, and lover of 60s garage rock. He's also one of our longest-standing team members! A native of SLO, he started organic composting back in 1970. He attended college in Fresno, where he shopped at a food co-op in the area, then, while trying to break into the film business in San Francisco, he fell in love with the Rainbow Co-op. Back in SLO, he worked at New Frontiers, then went on to work at SLO Natural Foods Co-op. Robert lives in SLO with his wife, Nikki, and in his spare time you can find him organic gardening, cooking, and rooting for his team: the LA Lakers.
Hey Becky, what’s your fave place to hang out? My driveway. True! I love to sit outside and do crafts and hang out with friends.
Fave seasonal produce? Strawberries. I love to make biscuits to have with my perfect strawberries!
Share a fun fact with us! I have been thinking about how Larry Kandarian (at our member meeting) said that plants communicate with millions of hairs on their roots. That is fascinating.
A perfect Sunday? A slow late wake up, a soak in a hot tub, then avo toast with sprouts and strong coffee. Then bike to live music and dancing someplace casual and sunny with family and friends.
Any final words? I love so many things about the Co-Op. Now I am lucky to work here.