Chef Jenn Felmley Makes CSA Meals Easy
Chef Jenn Felmley developed an appreciation of fresh and nutritious food very early in her life. A San Diego native, her childhood memories center on her grandmother’s kitchen. Her grandmother, who attended a French culinary school, cooked traditional American food with an emphasis on homemade ingredients.
“You can bet if she talked about having ice cream sundaes for dessert, that meant you’d make your own ice cream and your own toppings,” said Felmley.
Felmley knew she wanted to be a chef from the time she reached her teens. She began her culinary education at Johnson & Wales University, where she earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in Culinary Arts, the other in Culinary Nutrition.
A firm believer that “your food comes from your soul,” Felmley sought to discover the roots of many of the dishes she was learning to prepare. Her search led first to work as a chef near Milan in northern Italy. From there, she studied wine in Germany, earning a Sommelier Certificate at the Deutsche Wein-und Sommelierschule in Berlin and then worked in the kitchens at Champneys Resorts, one of the top spa destinations in England.
By 2003, she was back in her native southern California working at the Deepak Chopra Center at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, honing her knowledge of Ayurvedic cuisine. Felmley soon realized that beyond culinary practice, she wanted to teach cooking to others. She got into group and private cooking classes and soon was making new discoveries.
She’d been raised to appreciate cooking with fresh and nutritious ingredients, but around 2008, she said, “I got my hands on a copy of Edible San Diego and it opened my eyes to local farms and programs I’d never known about.” She got involved with Slow Food Urban San Diego and began collaborating with local farms, including Suzie’s Farm and Coastal Roots Farm, and with companies like Catalina Offshore Products.
In season, you may find her at City Farmers Nursery teaching how to cook a meal using ingredients from a Suzie’s Farm CSA box. Another class might begin with a tour of a local farmers’ market to pick out ingredients for a meal the class will prepare at an arranged location, like JinBuCha Kombucha Tasting Room and The Curious Fork.
“I created ‘Sunday Suppers on The Farm,’ a pop-up dinner at Coral Tree Farm,” said Felmley, who has used the farm as a location for private cooking classes.
At press time, in association with The Curious Fork, Felmley was “finalizing a ‘Dock to Table’ cooking class with all of the fish for the class sourced from the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.”
“It’s really eye-opening,” said Felmley about how much some class attendees may not know about local produce. She remembers an anecdote from Lucila Alejandro, co-owner of Suzie’s Farm. “She got complaints from some CSA customers about how awful the apples looked,” Felmley said, “but the apples turned out to be Turkish eggplants.”
“I love the sheer joy and childlike wonder that students have when I show them a new way of cooking or how to use a food they’ve never cooked with before,” said Felmley.
For a full list of upcoming classes, go to chefjenncooks.com, chefjenncooksblogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter at Chef_Jenn and on Instagram at @chefjenncooks
Sauce Napolitana (Fresh Tomato Sauce)
Many years ago, I was invited to have a traditional multi-course Italian dinner at a friend’s home. I watched as her mother made this simple tomato sauce and it changed my life forever.
Makes about 1 ½ cups
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 12 Roma (or plum tomatoes) cored and cut into medium-sized cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cover. Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, about
Season with salt and pepper.