Jessica Rooker, chef/manager at Franklin Templeton Investments in Rancho Cordova, CA, is a Northern California native. She attended California Culinary Academy, where she fell in love with restaurant kitchens and met her husband.
Before joining Bon Appétit in 2012 as a grill cook, she worked at Biba Restaurant, Spataro, Roxy, Ella, and Zinfandel Grille. Having a daughter meant she started trying to get off the punishing dinner schedule: “I was looking for a kitchen position that would help grow my career but also let me be a mom,” she says. “I found Bon Appétit and felt like I found a home.” She’s since had a son — and been promoted to sous chef then chef/manager at this corporate account.
Who and what inspired you to become a chef?
Family dinners were the only constant in my life as a child; we moved a lot when I was young. My Grandma Laura teaching me her recipes and how to cook are some of my best memories. I have always felt comfortable, and myself, in the kitchen. I first spent time in a commercial kitchen helping in a diner that a family friend owned. After I graduated I tried a few jobs, but always went back to the time I spent in the kitchen at home and at the diner. I fell into this industry naturally and haven’t looked back.
What have you learned from working at Bon Appétit?
I’ve learned a lot about working directly with customers. Coming from a restaurant background, there was always a server involved between us. I learned that I am good at dealing with guests and finding ways to make them happy, and I like it. I’ve also learned a lot about what our industry has done to the environment and how we can help make things better. Menuing to showcase local ingredients and working directly with farmers to create amazing food has been the best part of my seven years with Bon Appetit.
If you had to pick five ingredients to be shipwrecked on a desert island with, what would they be?
Bacon, eggs, cheese, tomato, and onion. Basic, but the basis to many of my favorite meals.