Naming Nutshell

In my cooking career, I have spent some time working for businesses with names varying from thoughtful & fun to questionable & disturbing.  One fine dining restaurant I cooked in during cooking school was named The Silent Woman.  It’s logo was a headless girl in servant clothing holding out a tray of food.  Later, I worked for Ovens of Brittany, and the servant girl in their imagery did have a head, an improvement!  Most recently, I came from nine years of working as a chef in Food Fight restaurants.   The fun, if confusing, logo is an image of a  piece of cheese with cannons protruding from it.

I really wanted to choose well and sensibly when finding my own identity.  Toying at different times with “Duck Soup Catering” (I wasn’t sure people would know the Marx brothers reference, didn’t know that it had any relevance to what I’m doing really, plus there is a cinema group in town by the same name) and “Girl Cook Catering” (which was certainly not the only aspect of the food – that it was cooked by a woman – that I wanted to gain people’s focus).

When I was 13, my family moved from a rural highway home to a home on a really steep hill in town.  Our garden shrunk considerably, as there was a huge Black Walnut tree in the yard.  The first two years that we lived there, my older brother and I attempted to harvest the walnuts.  They were easy to gather, but much more difficult to husk.  My fingers would be black and inky with their earthy, pungent scent.  When you would crack the shell, if you cracked it cleanly in half, you would find one of the only heart-shapes found in nature on the inside.  I had never seen a heart shape in nature (outside of a few flowers).

When I graduated from cooking school, my professor gave me some spices and a note that the secret ingredient should always be love.  I thought it was a pretty cheesy sentiment at the time, and it is…  but it’s also true.  As I’ve gained experience in cooking over the years, I have decided that what is most important to me, is that I am putting love into what I do.  For me, this means working with fresh ingredients grown and foraged in my area.  It means getting to know what matters to people and which foods and food rituals and history have been a part of people’s happiness.  It means getting back to gardening, getting my hands dirty, and learning all that I can.

I think the nutshell, specifically that heart-shaped walnut shell, is a perfect logo for me and all that this endeavor represents.  I am so happy to find a name that fits!


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One Response to “Naming Nutshell”

  1. Minaal Says:

    Hi Jen,

    I am a member of the Madison Area Vegetarian Meet up group. Due to some family emergency I couldn’t attend the dinner you catered recently for the group, though I realized what I missed from the wonderful reviews of my fellow members. I was just wondering if you cater to private birthday parties? My baby boy turns one on Sept 28 and I would be very happy if you could cater to a party of around 20 persons on Sat, Sept 26th. We have not decided on the location yet and I wanted to make a reservation with you first. Please let me know what you think.


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