People 12 December 2016
Jenny Dorsey was accepted as an early admissions student to the prestigious Columbia's Business School's Class of 2014 when she decided to take an abrupt turn on her career path. Dorsey ditched Columbia to pursue a Diploma in Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, also located in New York City. Jenny, who was working at Accenture at the time, recalls this "overnight decision" as a pivotal moment in her career.
Fast forward a few years and Jenny now runs her own culinary consulting firm Jenny Dorsey Consulting. Dorsey's business is centralized on all tenants a restaurant entrepreneur should know; including business strategy, menu research & development, and concept development for culinary businesses. She is also the Co-Founder & Executive Chef of an underground supper club I Forgot It's Wednesday based in New York and San Francisco.
Dorsey is certainly a go-getter. Before rolling out her own busienss, Jenny led international menu R&D for Le Pain Quotidien. She has also been awarded grants from Bocuse d'Or and James Beard Foundation to further her culinary consulting practice.
Her recent achievements read like a lifetime worth of work. Among them; launching Pop & Pour, an upscale wine bar in the up-and-coming neighborhood around Dyckman Street, helping start Noodelove, a new Asian noodle concept akin to Sweetgreen here in NYC. She is currently revamping a Nineties-era Thai chain restaurant in NYC called Spice to give them a refreshed menu for the new generation of eaters; ; writing the first cookbook for a well-known chef and his restaurant in West Village.
Regardless of how impressive Dorsey's resume may seem now, she explains that the beginning of her journey in the male dominated culinary industry wasn't always so admirable.
"The consulting business has been tough because I am 1. young 2. female 3. have limited cooking-only experience 4. seen as an 'elite outsider' given my background. Breaking down a lot of pre-conceived notions takes time, patience, and the strength of goodwill. I can't tell you how many times I came home crying because I was dismissed or condescended."
test kitchen and incubator focused on food, beverage, hospitality and business-minded professionals. Eat up entrepreneurs.
Even IFIW, the supper club which offers a uniquely stimulating dining experience faced scrutiny of it's own. Dorsey started the self-funded IFIW three years ago with her husband Matt and she explains, "At the beginning, everyone laughed at us. No one would come to our dinners, no matter what price point, because we were "nobody" on the NYC scene.
The press ignored us. But we hit the pavement, hustling hard to get people to give us a chance and dine at our establishment so they could fall in love. We believe in our concept and that we are addressing a real, emotional need in the people of New York City.
Dorsey is prime example of combining passion and work ethic to beat the odds and break into a new industry. These days, she uses her experience combined with her business background to help others do the same.
"Many owners and operators are willing to listen to your ideas if you approach them the right way," she says. "No one likes being told what to do, which is the traditional 'consultant' approach. Instead, I try to spend time within the organization itself, listening to the people who are working from the ground-up, and taking in their suggestions to my final suggestions so we can implement changes together, the right way."
An unconventional start to what has become a successful culinary career can be accredited to Dorsey's raw passion for food, and not just in the "my whole newsfeed is foodporn" way. Real, raw, passion for food and the dining experience.
"It's funny, because when I look back all the signs were there," she recalls, "I studied abroad in Rome and all I did was buy food at the markets and make (crappy) pasta dishes and eat them. I spent hundreds of dollars on recreational cooking classes and random specialty food."
"I think one day I woke up and realized I spend more than 80 percent of my life thinking about 1 topic, maybe I should work in that industry."
It goes without saying that Dorsey's career revolves around sharing her passion for the entire culinary experience, and helping to lift up other budding chefs. When asked about the future, Dorsey explains she is working on starting a new business called 10X (coming soon work10x.com), is a co-working space,[thb_border]
THE FAST FIVE
1. What app do you most use?
Probably Instagram, just to look at #foodporn.
2. Name a business mogul you admire.
JK Rowling. She's always been a hero of mine.
3. What product do you wish you had invented?
Freaking Pill Pockets!
4. What is your life motto?
It's your life. Own up.
5. Desert Island. Three things, go.
Water filter in large bottle. Tazer with rechargeable batteries. One of those laser shooters to denote asking for help.[/thb_border]
5 min read
Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City.
I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried: Dred Scott v. Sanford.
I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive.
Mr. Scott was born into enslavement around 1799 and, in 1830, was sold to a military surgeon who traveled back and forth between his military posts in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1842 the doctor and Mr. Scott both married, and they, all four, returned to St. Louis. Still enslaved, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against the doctor's wife for his and his wife Harriet's freedom. We don't know exactly why he chose this moment in time to file a lawsuit, however, he did. At the time of filing his, now, famous lawsuit, he was 50 years old. Ultimately, The Scott family did not gain their freedom, but their profound courage in filling this case helped ignite the Civil War and what we would come to know (or think we know) as freedom from enslavement for all human beings. Powerful then and even more powerful now.
My next milestone was turning 21, and I did it in the Big Apple. Having only moved to "the city that never sleeps" a few months prior, I knew nobody except my new friends, the bus-boys from the restaurant I was working at, Patzo's on the Upper West Side. And, yes, pazzo is actually the correct spelling of the Italian word, which translates to "crazy." Trust me we all had several laughs about the misspelling and the definition going hand in hand. I worked a full shift, closing out at around 11 PM, when, my kitchen team came out from the line with a cake singing, "Cumpleaños Feliz." It was fantastic. And the kindness of these almost-strangers was a powerful reminder of connection then as it still is today almost 29 years later.
I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy.
When I turned 30, I had just finished a European tour with Lucinda Childs dance company. The company had been on tour for months together and were inseparable. We traveled through Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, and Rome. We ate together, we rode on a bus together, we had drinks after shows together, and we even took turns giving company class to get warmed up before a show. It was deeply meaningful and dreamy. We ended the tour back in New York City at BAM, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was an incredible way to end the tour, by being on our home court, not to mention I was having an important birthday at the culmination of this already incredible experience.
So, when I invited everyone to join me at Chelsea Pier's Sky Rink to ice skate in late August, I was schooled really quickly that "tour" does not mean you are friends in real life, it means you are tour friends. When the tour ends, so does the relationship. I skated a few laps and then went home. This was a beautiful lesson learned about who your real friends are; it was powerful then as it is today.
Turning 40 was a completely different experience. I was in a serious relationship with my now-husband, Joe. I had just come off of a successful one-woman dance show that I produced, choreographed, and danced in, I had just choreographed a feature film, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, with A-list actors, including Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini, who became a dear friend and had even been on the red carpet with Susan Sarandon at the Venice Film Festival for the movie a year earlier.
And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age.
This was a very special birthday, and I had, in those 10 years between 30 and 40, come to cultivate very real friendships with some wonderful colleagues. We all celebrated at a local Italian restaurant, Etcetera Etcetera (who is delivering for those of you in NYC — we order weekly to support them during COVID), a staple in the theater district. Joe and I were (and are) regulars and, of course, wanted to celebrate my 40th with our restaurant family and friends. We were upstairs in the private room, and it was really lovely. Many of those in attendance are no longer with us, including Joe's Dad, Bob Ricci, and my dear friend Jim Gandolfini having transitioned to the other side. Currently, that restaurant is holding on by a thread of loving neighbors and regulars like us. Life is precious. Powerful then and today even more so.
I write this article because I'm turning 50, still in New York City. However, I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive. And I could not be more filled with hope, love, possibility, and power. This year has included an impeachment hearing, a global pandemic, and global protests that are finally giving a larger platform to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to fully embody who I am as a woman, a 50-year-old woman who is living fully in purpose, takes the cake, the rink, and the party.
I'm making movies about conversations around race. I've been happily married for 11 years to the love of my life, Joe Ricci. I'm amplifying and elevating the voices of those who have not previously had a platform for speaking out. I choose who to spend time with and how long! I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy. Being 50 is one of the most amazing things I ever thought I could experience. And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age. I'm 50 and powerful. Dred Scott was 50 and powerful. This powerful lesson is for today and tomorrow. We have the power. No matter what age you are, I invite you to use your powerful voice to join me in making the world a better place.