Born and raised in Southern Pines, NC, I have always loved cooking and baking. As the oldest of 5 (you read that right, 5!) children, I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen. Additionally, I loved watching my grandmother work her magic in the kitchen, and my love for gardening stemmed from working with her in her massive garden. Tasting the meals she created from the fields of her labor sparked my interest in fresh, farm-to-table food, as well as learning to cook with love.
Driven by Passion
While cooking and baking were both passions of mine, working in the culinary field was not my first choice in life. I love helping others – from family and friends, to four-legged creatures – and I chose to pursue a B.S. in Animal Science from North Carolina State University. After graduation, I worked in retail and as a personal trainer for a few years, and eventually ended up working for my family in retail pharmacy for 15 years.
Throughout that time, I became passionate about fitness, health and nutrition. I competed in figure and bikini competitions which sparked an interest in sports nutrition, as well as cooking for health and wellness. It was during that time that my physician discovered that I had a congenital thyroid condition, and eventually had to have my thyroid removed. It took me several years to get back in balance, and I still struggle with it occasionally. Like many other conditions, diet and lifestyle choices are very important with thyroid issues. Because of my passion for health and wellness, I have been able to learn how foods can be therapeutic and healing, and that lifestyle choices can be combative against various conditions and disease.
My personal health experience sparked an interest in my heart and mind to pursue a new career – one that I knew I would love and would allow me to combine all of my passions.
With lots of encouragement from my husband and family, I enrolled in culinary school. I attended Central Carolina Community College’s (CCCC) Natural Chef program part-time. While there, I learned holistic and therapeutic ways of preparing food and how to cook for people with food restrictions, dietary concerns and food allergies. I also learned the importance of farm-to-table cuisine and its impact on our community.
From CCCC, I transferred to Sandhills Community College where I strengthened my cooking and baking skillset, gained knowledge in global cuisines, and learned about restaurant management. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with an AAS in Culinary Arts and a certificate in Restaurant Management.
After 3 years in the restaurant and catering industry, I decided to pursue my own business as a personal chef. One of my favorite parts about this new path is getting to research ways to use food for overall health and well-being.
I am a member of the United States Personal Chef Association and ServSafe Certified.
Get to know Jess
I’m a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and “fur mom” to a Doberman and four cats.
In my free time, aside from cooking, I enjoy running, weight-lifting, obstacle course races, yoga, spending time with my husband, family and friends, traveling and gardening.