As Vice President in the South Region of Whole Foods Market, Stephen is responsible for purchasing, operations and support for 40+ stores and more than a billion dollars in sales across six states. One of his passions in the role is partnering with local producers to add them to Whole Foods’ shelves and see them expand. His love for great food emanates from his mother’s love of homemade bread and his Nonna’s manicotti lessons. Be it “cooking” at KFC while in high school or working the line in fine dining during college, food has always been his cornerstone. While living in Zanzibar working on his dissertation research in African History, Stephen’s personal culinary explorations broadened. Even though the process did not yield a PhD or a career in academe, it did imbue him with a passion for food in all its cultural and material forms and a deep respect for local food systems and entrepreneurs.