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Faculty

Erin Szopiak

Chef Instructor and Registered Dietitian

Brightwater Chef Instructor and Registered Dietitian Erin Szopiak has lived in a number of places in her life, including northern California, Houston, Salt Lake City, St. Louis and now Northwest Arkansas. Her interest in gardening and cooking with garden-fresh produce began with her Opa. As a child, she'd visit him and eat fresh strawberries, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes and pickled beets from his large garden, and bake homemade bread, and on special occasion, he'd make his famous European style torte.

Erin went on to get her bachelor's and master's in nutrition and dietetics and teach courses at Saint Louis University. She spent time working as a registered dietitian at a teaching hospital in St. Louis. While studying, she decided to broaden her knowledge in cooking healthy and delicious meals. She worked in various restaurants and learned about lobster, crab, mussels, pesce crudo and oysters, as well as how to pair Asian ingredients with hyper-local produce. She moved her way up the hot line and assisted in opening new restaurants as well. 

In 2017, Erin was ready to have a more sustainable work schedule that would combine her interests in nutrition, cooking and teaching, and decided to join Brightwater as a registered dietitian chef instructor.

"I love interacting with Brightwater students. To see them have a shift in perspective, or have an 'aha' moment about what is being prepared or taught that day in class is very rewarding. I love seeing the students have fun in class. I especially enjoy seeing my culinary nutrition students surprised at how delicious healthy food can be," Erin says. "I also appreciate the Brightwater team. My fellow faculty and staff members make it worth it to come to work each day."

In her free time, Erin enjoys gardening, hiking, bike riding, running, yoga and anything active that one can do outside. 

  • BS in Nutrition and Dietetics, Saint Louis University 
  • Dietetic internship in Public Health, Saint Louis University  
  • MS in Nutrition and Dietetics, Saint Louis University 

  • Culinary Nutrition  
  • Seasonal Kitchen 
  • Foundations 
  • Methods 

  • Stage at Lucques and Spago, California, January 2016 
  • Pastry Stage at the Nomad Hotel, New York, October 2017 

  • Crohn's and Colitis Foundation volunteer   
  • Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics member 


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