It all started when…
I moved from Ohio to France for 5 years of incredible culinary and cultural adventures. The adventures began when I first tasted authentic fresh olive juice!
American by birth, Sicilian by blood, and Provençal at heart, I developed my passion for olive oil while living in Aix-en-Provence, France. It was in the nearby village of Les Baux that I had my first taste of this liquid gold...an experience that would change my life. The pursuit of this new found olive oil passion led me on unimaginable adventures. I spent years working at the side of the "Queen of Olive Oil" (Christine Cheylan, owner of Chateau Virant) in France, including harvesting, milling, blending, and traveling throughout Europe for olive oil classes and conferences. From these invaluable formative years, I went on to participate in olive milling seasons with the most incredible and inspiring producers in Provence, Sicily, Spain, and California (The Olive Center at UC Davis). I have travelled the Mediterranean learning all I can about this sacred fruit, allowing me to be part of the national French olive oil competition's jury as well as one of the judges of the most prestigious international olive oil competition in Canada, Olive d'Or.
Recruited by Olivier Baussan, founder of L'Occitane and Olivier & Co, I spent two years in Paris working with his new brand Premiere Pression Provence and spreading my love of Provençal culture, tradition, and dialect with Paris and visitors from around the world.
In 2010, I was chosen among 18,000 to be in the Top 100 of France's first season of MasterChef and in 2013 made it to the Top 100 America's fourth season of MasterChef, where I acquired the name "Olive Oil Princess".
My story is featured From Olive to Olive Oil, an educational illustrated book about French olives and olive oil and my time learning from Christine Cheylan. I am currently working on her Culinary Memoirs of Provence inspired by the remarkable years living in Provence.
Returning to my Ohio roots, I started my cooking and baking classes. Beginning with olive oil themed classes, my repertoire has grown to include a variety of classes. The theme throughout is a focus on local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. I source locally all available ingredients; those that are not available are sourced thoughtfully and through much research. I believe that ingredients make the all the difference. I also love working with our local farmers and producers! I do not use any dyes, colorings, or flavorings…nothing but quality and clean ingredients.
We mastered French Macarons in Paris, where they were my favorite dessert. These authentic Parisian macarons have quickly become our most popular workshop. The macaron workshops are hands-on and the students leave confident in making authentic macarons at home.
We’ve recently returned from Paris where we immersed ourselves in the French classics. We are excited to be bringing you a variety of new classes in 2019, including croissants, pâte à choux, and so much more.
In 2017, I founded Local Abundance Kitchen. Local Abundance Kitchen is 501c3 nonprofit organization offering cooking classes taught by refugees and immigrants. Local Abundance also offers locally sourced and handcrafted goods made right here in Cleveland. Our mission is to provide our newest community members with an empowering and enriching source of income…and so much more. To join us for a nonprofit ethnic cooking classes or to shop our locally produced goods, visit our website.
I hope to see you soon! Jennifer