Attention fabulous amateur chefs: Are your knives —and your skills— sharp enough to go pro? Could you make money as a restauranteur? How about as a cookbook author?
That is our featured “make more” segment of this podcast. My guest is Jennifer Brule who —you guessed it— just opened a restaurant and has a new cookbook out. Welcome to Easy Money, Jenny.
You are obsessed with food —in a good way. Was that your clue —and would that be a good clue to others— that a culinary career could be for them?
I think about food all the time. I’m either shopping for food, cooking it, eating it, talking about it, researching it, writing about it, or day dreaming of it. Thoughts of cooking and food consume me. I met an astrologer once who told me that in a past life I starved to death and have spent every lifetime since then trying to feed people.
You say that when you went to culinary school, you finally found a curriculum at which you excelled. Is that another clue for people? If they don’t love the book learning, but have a mad knack for hands-on learning?
I graduated with honors from Baltimore International Culinary College. And it’s true, I felt like I had finally found a curriculum at which I excel.
Despite thriving in culinary school, for a long time you preferred to write about food professionally, rather than cook food professionally. Where did you write and why was that best for you for a while?
•I started my career as food writer for the Newburyport Daily News in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
•Move to Augusta, Georgia. Food writer for the Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Magazine.
•But I also had 4 daughters during that time. At one point I had four children under 7 years old!
•I have 4 daughters and we lived abroad. Not a money maker for a long time but I was always cooking. That is my passion.
You were edging closer and closer to what it takes to run a restaurant by opening restaurants for others. Tell us about that part of your food background.
•Test recipes for Cook’s magazine; manage to be simultaneously invisible and irritating to editor, Christopher Kimball.
•Write the menu for Sam Adam’s Brew Pubs.
I developed recipes for national magazines, like Cooking Light, Shape, Fitness and Draft Magazine.
•Culinary consultant and recipe developer for S&D Coffee and Tea (North America’s largest custom coffee roaster), Tropical Foods Summit Coffee and Alino Pizzeria.
Jenny, I know you recently turned 50. Tell us about the shocking turn of events in your life, at this age, that was so devastating, but has also been a new beginning for you.
I turned 50 in February, one month later I fulfilled a dream by opening my restaurant, one week after that, my world as I knew it ended, when my husband of nearly 25 years left me for a woman he met on an airplane.
Most of running a restaurant is a mental game. While I was thrown into an emotional tailspin, I had to get up every day, put one foot in front of the other, lead my kitchen brigade and muddle through– I couldn’t afford to let let my dream slip away. In that way, my restaurant saved me– kept me focused and continues to bring me so much joy. It is truly a place of happiness– happiness that customers feel. for support.
Final question is about advice for others. Writing a cookbook or opening a restaurant is a big deal. Many people may not be ready —yet. What should they do to prepare?
Find something related that you can tolerate. For me it was catering. I catered the Masters for several years. Very hard work. Up at 5 and bed at midnight and physically tough work but I made incredible money. I would not be happy catering 5 days a week. But having it every once in a while as a cash injection allowed me to be able to prepare for what I love and that was a good balance for me.