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Suzanne Ledbetter

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Foodie, writer and philanthropist Suzanne Ledbetter sat down with HERLIFE Magazine recently to share her dedication to family and community.

HLM: How long have you lived here? What do you love most?
SL: I was born in Almaden Valley in San Jose and moved to Fresno when I turned five years old. After getting married, we moved to the beautiful wine country of Lodi in 2006, and it’s become my adopted home ever since.

HLM: How is your heart inspired to serve the community?
SL: I’m inspired by the stories of children who benefit from the programs at our local Lodi Boys and Girls Club, by the families that are treated with compassionate and quality health care at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and the multitude of individuals in need of human kindness in a time when so little empathy is afforded to others.

HLM: What sparks joy for you?
SL: I find joy in connecting people, in raising funds for our community, and supporting my son’s school as Parent Club president. I try to put my best foot forward in everything I do. But I’m happiest when I get to use my creative talents to create food that people can emulate in their own home using produce grown in the San Joaquin Valley.

HLM: Top three bucket list goals?
SL: That’s such a tough question. First and foremost, I want to raise a well-adjusted, kind young man that will continue our family’s legacy of farming and philanthropy. I’d also love to see our local Lodi Boys and Girls Club increase the scope of their influence and be financially sustainable in my lifetime. Lastly, I would love the Lodi community to invest in our youth by building a sports facility our community can be proud of and can bring revenue to our city.

HLM: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
SL: I was honored to receive the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year at the Community Philanthropy Summit in 2022. I was recognized for my work with the Lodi Boys and Girls Club, St, Joseph’s Foundation of San Joaquin, Omega Nu, the Hutchins Street Square Foundation, the Young Professionals Committee of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce and the Lodi Community Foundation. I am grateful to raise funds for our community and am grateful to our incredibly generous donors in our community that give me the opportunity to serve our local organizations.

HLM: Can you describe a key event that had an impact on your life?
SL: Losing my father to cancer in 2008 at the age of 27 made me realize that I needed to make the most of every minute. I was working for a non-profit that I loved, but was craving a creative outlet where I could share my passions for food, wine and philanthropy in one space. A few incredible friends encouraged me to leave my position, begin writing about food and wine, and the rest is history. I’m forever grateful for their friendly nudge to follow my passion.

HLM: What’s your free time passion?
SL: I consider myself incredible lucky, because there are so many things that bring me joy outside of my professional work. There is nothing better than spending quality time with my husband, Craig, and nine-year-old son, Chase. Our newest passion is traveling to national parks like Yellowstone and Zion in our fifth wheel experiencing Mother Nature in all her glory. You’ll also find me on the tennis court at Woodbridge Golf and Country Club playing tennis with the most incredible group of women. But the thing that always makes me feel alive is hosting friends or family for a feast around the table paired with fine wines.

HLM: Do you have a favorite quote?
SL: “Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

HLM: What are you currently reading?
SL: Any and every food and wine review I can get my hands on. I’m still old school and love to get my monthly subscription to Bon Appetit and Cook’s Magazine. I subscribe to dozens of newspapers and blogs like SF Chronicle and Lodi Wine. My favorite gift is a good old-fashioned cookbook, especially one outside of my cultural scope of food.

HLM: Favorite food or dessert?
SL: I’m a huge fan of duck confit, foie gras and oysters. But if I had to pick one thing to eat the rest of my life, it would have to be a pepperoni pizza, Nick’s Way at Guantonio’s in Lodi. If you haven’t been, do yourself a favor and get in your car now.