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How Shelly Westerhausen Worcel is Building Her Business with Intention

Photo by Erika Mattingly

Photo by Erika Mattingly


I go by my brand name Vegetarian Ventures on social media, so sometimes I get referred to by that or VV for short.

MY Home Base

I've spent the last 12 years in Bloomington, Indiana, but am feeling a bit transient right now. My husband is currently working a seasonal job in Utah, so I've been going back and forth. Besides a few summers spent in Nashville, Tennessee, I've spent most of my life in the Midwest and grew up in town about an hour from Chicago.

MY biz

Vegetarian Ventures started out as a food blog in 2012 and has grown into a full-blown freelance food business that consists of photography, food writing, food styling, recipe developing, three cookbooks, and sponsorships. I love that building a food blog really made me step up to the challenges of being excellent at different areas of the industry. I can now take on projects where I am in charge of more than one job and this allows me to charge more!


Shelly’s Potato Grape And Rosemary Pizza


Shelly’s Buffalo Cauliflower Bowl

what I’M known for

I've been a vegetarian since I was 12, so my focus is on colorful vegetable-forward recipes that won't leave you missing the meat. I think there were a few years at the beginning of building my business when I worried that a lot of people wouldn't be able to relate to me, but it's actually been a really great way to help me narrow down my brand. It also gave me the motivation to work even harder to prove myself.

In more recent years, I've also become known for my work on my second cookbook, Platters and Boards. It’s all about creating beautiful spreads for you and your family and friends and has sold close to 200,000 copies.

Platters & Boards.jpeg

How I’m Doing

It really depends on the day, but when it comes down to it I feel so fortunate that my studio is in my house so I didn't have to pause my business when the pandemic hit.

How the Bombesquad can help

If you need a gift idea (upcoming wedding? bridal shower? birthday?) and/or are looking to treat yourself, please pick up my new cookbook, Tables & Spreads, from your favorite bookstore!

Tables and spreads.jpeg

Secret Skill

I say “yes” to what I want first, and then I figure out how I'm going to make it work within my schedule, skill set, and budget.

MY Motto

Our lives become our greatest work of art, so spend time creating, having fun, and living a life you will one day look back on and be proud of.

Platter up! Spread from Shelly’s new book, Tables & Spreads.

Platter up! Spread from Shelly’s new book, Tables & Spreads.

Most loved cookbook

I'm obsessed with my cookbook collection and rotate them out by season. With the farmers’ markets opening up for the season again here in the Midwest, I'll be turning to Ruffage by Abra Berens for all my vegetable needs and Sister Pie by Lisa Ludwinski to use up the fruit I pick up at the market.

essential kitchen tool

My Vitamix! I use it everyday for smoothies, sauces, and dips and haul it all over the country when I travel. Whenever I am feeling lazy around lunchtime, I'll just blend up a dip and eat it with vegetables as my lunch.

Mix it all together. Vitamix Ascent A2500 Blender In Black.

Mix it all together. Vitamix Ascent A2500 Blender In Black.

Favorite pantry item

I have some pistachio butter that I impulse purchased at Good for Cooks, a local food boutique in Bloomington, and I've been putting it on everything from toast to swirling it into pastry cream. It's so creamy and rich and amazing! I made donuts last weekend and filled them with this butter and oh my goodness!

Squad Shoutout

Lady & Larder. I discovered them through a Bombesquad meeting and now I'm obsessed with following them online! I can't wait until we can safely travel again so I can visit their adorable cheese shop in L.A.!

Lady & Larder Lady Crackers

Lady & Larder Lady Crackers