Humanizing Chefs: Katie Jesurun

Cincinnati Chefs
6 min readOct 3, 2023

Name — Katie Jesurun

Where do you Cook? — Goosefoot Cook and Grow

Where are you from originally? — Cleveland, Ohio.

Favorite Food(s) — I love the feeling of pride and satisfaction I get when I eat something I grew myself (I spent a few years working as a full time organic vegetable farmer!). But what I love even more is finding something wild out on a hike and bringing it home to eat. There’s such a deep sense of humility and gratitude with foraging, you really feel that Mother Nature has given you a gift. Sauteed wild mushrooms with pasta or just on toast, right after a hike, is my favorite.

Favorite Chef(s) — All the neighborhood moms I met while working a community development job in Cleveland. They welcomed me into their homes and taught me how to make their favorite foods like bacalaitos, collard greens, jerk chicken. They showed me what it looks like to make food with a lot of pride and love and they were a huge reason why I decided to pursue a life of full-time cooking!

Favorite Cincy Restaurant(s) (Past or Present) — Mita’s, Salazar, Bakers Table, Pickled Pig, Bridges, Mai Thai, Baladi, Riverside Korean, North South Baking, Chloe’s Eatery

Favorite Food Memory or Meal — My grandfather was born and raised on the island of Curacao, an island in the Caribbean that was owned at that time by the Dutch. It’s a long and complex family history that my dad and I have both enjoyed digging into these past few years. As a chef and a farmer, my way of connecting to my grandfather and our family’s history has been through food of course. I found a collection of recipes that included a dish I had never heard of before, cucumber stew (stoba di komkomber), made with a very particular and unique variety of cucumber grown throughout the Caribbean. I traveled to Curacao this past winter for just the second time in my life and I found a local food hall that was serving this cucumber stew. It was delicious! And it inspired me to grow this unique variety of cucumbers at home this summer so I could keep learning and stay connected, even in this very small way, to our family story. The first time I made my own version of “stoba di komkomber” at home was, in a way, just as special of a moment as that first time I had it in Curacao.

I first knew I wanted to be a chef when — When I started culinary school, I honestly didn’t have a plan in mind, I just loved food and cooking and had an insatiable curiosity to keep learning. I worked for a few years in the restaurant industry and gained invaluable experience, but my love of food had also led me to a curiosity about farming as well. When I was given the opportunity to work full time on a farm I jumped at the chance. After 5 years of working on that farm, and eventually having become the manager of the garden and CSA program there, I started to feel a bit burnt out. The farming world and the restaurant world can both be brutal. All that to say, I think what’s most important about my story is not necessarily the first time I became interested in being a chef, but the second time I became interested in being a chef after having already left the culinary industry! Finding Goosefoot Cook and Grow opened up a possibility for me that I didn’t know existed: to combine my two biggest loves of local/seasonal ingredients and cooking for people from the heart. The personal chef style of cooking is really focused on long-term relationship building, and I love having the chance every week to share stories about our farm partners and some background information about the ingredients we are cooking with.

If I weren’t a chef, I would be — a full time farmer and seed saver

My first job was — Working the register at Panera. Would you like an apple, baguette, or chips with that?

Why I love my job, in three words — Cultivating relationships…need a third word, how about…CHEESE!

If I could have dinner with anyone, past or present, it would be — The 1999 US Women’s National Soccer Team. They were my heroes growing up when I was a little kid playing soccer and watching them win the World Cup that year in penalty kicks was epic…I guess I never grew out of my fangirl love for them!

My favorite book isFor Food: I like chefs that write about the science behind cooking like Samin Nosrat, Kenji Lopez-Alt, Michael Ruhlman, and best of all, the holy bible of cooking, Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” For Nonfiction: “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. For Fiction: Everything by N.K. Jemisin For Children’s Books: We have a second grader at home who loves reading the “Elephant and Piggie” series by Mo Willems over and over again, and I like it too!

Favorite thing to cook after a busy service — A big fried egg sandwich with lots of hot sauce

Favorite Movie(s) — “Singin’ In the Rain”. I’m sure I have other favorites, but that’s the one that always comes to mind when I just want to put something on that is comforting and will cheer me up.

Favorite TV show(s) — Abbot Elementary, Stranger Things, Only Murders in the Building, Ted Lasso, Top Chef

Favorite Song(s) — “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell live at the Newport Folk Music Festival

Favorite Band or Musician — Sister Rosetta Tharpe, known as the godmother of Rock and Roll. If you’ve never seen it, look up the video of her performing “Up Above my Head” (recorded sometime in the early 1960’s) where she has a face melting electric guitar solo with a full gospel choir in the background.

Favorite Place to travel — When I think of my favorite places to travel, I can’t help but also think about a strong connection to the food there: the wild blueberries and chanterelles that grow around my grandma’s cabin in New Hampshire, the cured salmon and moose meat stew we have when we visit my partner’s family in Alaska, the cured porc noir that my host family raised and processed themselves in Southern France, the mint tea my co-workers and I drank after every meal together in Morocco, the fresh mangoes my classmates and I picked on our walk home from school in Martinique.

Favorite Hobby(s) — During my time as a farmer, I got really passionate about seed saving and plant breeding. Even though I’m working full time with Goosefoot now, I still have a few side projects to grow and save particular seeds that interest me. Some of the ones I’m most excited about are swiss chard, okra, sorghum, peanuts, different types of heirloom beans, black cumin (nigella), and the cucumber variety I learned about in Curacao called burr gherkins.

Favorite Quote — “Never allow anyone to be humiliated in your presence” — Elie Wiesel.

Biggest pet peeve — A dish that has food or sauce or some garnish carelessly splattered on the edge of the bowl or plate. I just think it gives the impression that the customer is just another mouth to feed or a table to turn. Respect for the food, for the people, for yourself…is it too much to say that I think all of that shows up in the two seconds it takes for a chef to wipe a rim clean before serving it?!

Your motivational quote for other cooks/chefs — We are not our jobs. Who we are and what we do are two different things. Be proud of what you do, but make sure you have a sense of self that is bigger than the job.

My advice to future culinary pros — Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously: Work with pride, hone your craft, strive for excellence, and stay grounded in your integrity…but at the same time, be able to laugh at yourself, to forgive your mistakes, to remain teachable, and to risk being very uncool by stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

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