What motivated you to choose this career?

I have a passion for feeding students. I enjoy coming up with creative menu items that will entice students to participate in our school meals program. I have been a member of SNA for 16 years and have attended eight Annual National Conferences. I always have a fabulous time at these, but my favorite was Boston in 2014. The classes and speakers were wonderful, and Boston is a fun place.

What is the best vacation you’ve ever enjoyed and what’s still a bucket list destination?

I really enjoyed going with family and friends to Tokyo, Japan. It was great to explore the sites and the food was fabulous. On my bucket list is France, which I hope to go to next spring, to visit the house where Julia Childs lived and take a week-long cooking class. The best part of the trip is that I will get to enjoy it with some great friends I’ve met through SNA.

If any activity could be turned into an Olympic sport, which one would earn you a medal?

Eating or anything involving food! One of my favorite activities when traveling is to try the ingredients and signature dishes that are unique to the area.

What is one thing that you can’t live without right now?

My support system: My family and friends who keep me centered and sane.

If a genie granted you three wishes, what would they be?

I’d wish for happiness, good health and peace.

Name three foods you could happily subsist on if marooned with a lifetime supply on a desert island.

I should change my genie answer to “If I have to be marooned on an island, I would want it to be a dessert island!” I would enjoy a different dessert every day, along with coffee and dark chocolate as my other two go-to foods.

What is the strangest food you’ve ever tried, and did you like it?

Rocky Mountain Oysters. I love fresh oysters from the ocean, and this was not like those at all! Rocky Mountain Oysters is a fried meatball dish made from bull testicles. I had it in Vale, Ore., a little, tiny, cowboy town. Surprisingly, the dish was tasty —as long as you didn’t think about what you were eating!

What would be the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

Lots of shoes and clothes—but then I would give back to those who have helped me along the way.

If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would be on your guest list?

My dad, who died way too young. He introduced me to so many different foods, and I share his passion for eating!

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self and what’s the best advice you’ve received?

I would tell younger me to “have confidence and believe in yourself.” That connects with the best advice that I’ve received, which is to relax and not sweat the small stuff!

Pam Suyematsu

Pam Suyematsu, SNS

Nutrition Services Director

Ontario, Oregon

Ontario School District, 8C