By Corina Santoro
Jennifer Hewes has always enjoyed cooking. As a little girl, she was shaped by the hours she spent in the kitchen with her grandmother, the matriarch of the family and cook at a local diner. She liked it, helping her with cutting and chopping, the energy of the creation that takes place in a kitchen. It was that spark of creation, fueling her early years, that became her life’s passion. She chose to become a chef and through a combination of formal classroom education, relentless book reading, and many hours in numerous positions in kitchens under some really well balanced chefs, Jennifer aggressively pursued her dream. Head down, all in, she cooked and tasted her way to Executive Chef positions at Cafe Capriccio and now The Point.
I ask her if she was ever interested in other sides of the restaurant business, but she tells me it simply wasn’t for her. It’s the kitchen she loves and she thrives off the pressure, the atmosphere of continually learning and creating.
It’s this element of creation that Jennifer comes back to time and again. She talks about the fulfillment in taking a classical dish and adding your own spin, completely changing it. “Working with ingredients, making them flow in unique ways, adding your own stamp and style,” this is what inspires her daily and you can see it in the dishes she creates at The Point.
We discuss what it’s like being a chef and she admits it takes a special kind of person. There are long hours on your feet, artistic temperaments, and a schedule that requires quite a bit of personal sacrifice. But playing with your hands, cutting meat and fish, crafting, there’s nothing else like it. It surely beats sitting at a desk all day. As I type this from my desk, I can’t help but acknowledge she might be right.
We move on to discuss the Delmar Farmers Market and why she choose to be a Market 2 Plate demo chef. I’m somewhat surprised by her answer: her desire to build relationships between the farmers and the community. She loves picking produce from the farmers to creatively use in fresh ways, and certainly at The Point they want to use as many local ingredients as possible. But ultimately, she’d like to see the entire local farming community involved in area restaurants, doing dinner parties and mixed events that are lucrative for everyone. In an increasingly global and hectic world, these collaborative community roots are so important.
Jennifer has big dreams that include restaurants around the world. But for now, “I’m living my dream,” she says, “focused on being the best chef I can be.”
I close by asking her if she has advice for others considering a career as a chef. I laugh when she says being a chef is sort of like living in a movie, full of characters and immensely satisfying. “Just put your head down and start cooking. It’s all about cooking and tasting.”
Jennifer will be cooking, tasting, and letting you taste this Saturday, June 24, 10–11 AM at the Market 2 Plate cooking demo.