JESSICA THEROUX

Photo Credit, Aaditi Joshi

For as long as I can remember, I have loved spending time in kitchens and gardens, talking with and learning from older people, and almost always have a camera, spoon, or pen in hand. I feel incredibly fortunate to have studied the things I am most passionate about, with a BA in Visual Arts from Brown University, chef's training at the Natural Gourmet Institute, nutrition education from Bauman College, and a year-long professional photography residency at the Maine Photographic Workshops.

When I graduated from Brown, I was awarded the Samuel T. Arnold Fellowship, which supported travel to Italy to document food traditions from 2003-2005. The funding was to be used however I saw best; I chose to spend my time cooking with and recording grandmothers in nine different regions. My paternal grandmother, Honey, had always been one of the most important and interesting people in my life, and that instilled in me a great appreciation for older generations. It is the grandmothers who often make the best (and most comforting) food, and so I chose to roll pasta, forage for wild greens, and learn all about life from Italy's beloved nonnas. I turned the work that I did that year into my IACP award-winning cookbook, Cooking with Italian Grandmothers, and a series of accompanying documentary films.

In the years after Italy, I worked extensively as a chef (cooking under Amaryll Schwertner at Boulettes Larder, and as a private chef in people's homes), directed the culinary program at the Montalvo Arts Center, and did nutrition consultations for women and children. Still, whenever I travelled or met an older woman that made something delicious, I felt compelled to take thorough notes and make recordings. We are in a moment when traditional recipes and ways of life are fast disappearing, soon to be lost and unretrievable for future generations. As a result of this, my work is now exclusively focused on documenting elders and making their knowledge widely accessible.

My hope for this website is that it becomes a global celebration of older women and their foods and wisdom, preserving incredible stories and recipes, and inspiring people towards greater connection.