Back in 1984, I helped my friend cater his Christmas party. About a year later, I launched my own catering company and my family…
(Allison was born the same year – that’s my mom and baby girl)
Lindsay came the following year, we bought a house, I cooked and cooked for game shows and commercials and odd photographers (they loved me).
I had another baby in 1992, Hayden.
I got busted by the Board of Health and built my first commercial kitchen in 1995. Then I built a restaurant in Culver City in 1997 and ran that alongside my catering company for eleven years. Oh, the stories.
In 2007, I took a life changing Permaculture course and discovered visual journaling. Two of the most important things I did for myself. Ever.
By 2008, I was worn out. I shuttered the restaurant and found a cozy little catering shoppe four miles from my home. I had free time for the first time in 23 years and I began an ardent search for the meaning of life.
I changed everything. I stopped worrying about money. I worried everyday I was in business and I survived eleven years as a restauranteur. Surely I had staying power. It was the great 2008 recession and all was going well at the new shoppe. Apparently worrying doesn’t help. So I stopped. This was another smart move for me.
I went to the park every morning with my dog and I still do. Being in nature is the best way to start my day. I’m prone to frequent bouts of prancersize, but try not to get caught, and I sing out loud. Yup, like nobody’s watching, that’s me.
I decided to always be kind. Alright, kinder, more mindful, more responsible with my voice and words. I’m sure many folks found me to be a harsher for much of my restaurant life. Honest to a fault and my six foot husky frame makes me a standing bear. I needed to lighten up. I made an everyday effort to be more humorous, lighter, lovelier, I wanted to be lovely.
I wanted to serve my community, to be of service. In 2009, I launched the culinary program at the Garden School Foundation.
In 2010 I rallied successfully for improved lunches at LA Unified, and I’m currently deeply dedicated to my friends at RootDownLA. It feels so good in the way down parts of me to be working for change and seeing results. It’s the most soulful, satisfying feeling. (Much better than worrying about money)
I had to re-invent Jennie Cooks. The Hollywood studio business had run out of money (or so they said), with budgets aligning to fast food prices. I moved toward weddings and launched Plant Based Parties in 2010. I like pushing vegetables, it feels responsible, sustainable, innovative.
In 2013, I wrote and illustrated my cookbook, that was fun!
In September this year, My Johnny and I celebrate thirty six years together as a married couple, as a family, as soul mates and best friends. We do stuff together. We sing. We dance. We laugh. We’re figuring out what to do next, where to go, what to be. The way I see it, I got another thirty years in business and another thirty five with that guy.
I’m marking these milestones with some crazy kinds of surprises. And all you need to do is have a party.
Thanks for the Love Los Angeles. I love you back.
Thirty. Counting up and loving every minute.