On Why We Cook, Jennifer Perillo: To Seek Refuge, To Inspire & To Remember

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Apr 15, 2013
Post to TwitterPost to FacebookPost to DiggPost to StumbleUponPost to DeliciousPost to Reddit

“Life’s goal is to beat you down. Our goal is to tell Life, ‘I’m here, I’m stronger than you.’ And for me, that anchor is the kitchen. The kitchen is my constant.” 

Meet Jennifer Perillo, a.k.a. Jennie, the food writer and cookbook author behind In Jennie’s Kitchen. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be profiling some very special people I’ve met for a short food. curated. series on Why We Cook.

What compels us to cook? That’s a question I’ve been tossing around my head these past few months. I’ve been feeling a bit sentimental these days, spending time in the kitchen to “work things out”. I’ve come to realize, that’s what I do. I come to the kitchen to be fully present in the moment, to not let the past or future bother me, but to have space to just be me. I guess you could say, I cook to help let go. Last week, I made a beautiful salad for a friend I hoped to make amends with, enjoyed the simplicity of finding that just-right recipe, with that oh-so-perfect blend of flavors and ingredients to make ’em know I cared. Over the weekend, I popped out of bed with a mission to bake fluffy, buttery biscuits, to help erase a heavy night of tears and bad dreams, after a week of some sad, personal news. So for me, the kitchen is where I go to repair and find peace. For Jennie, the kitchen is even more: Food. Family. And Life. Lots of life to be exact. A whole spectrum.

I don’t want to say too much, because I think her video says it all. I hope you enjoy Jennie’s story. I hope it inspires you like it inspires me. Every time I watch it, I’m moved.

To read more about her life stories and to try some of her recipe creations, you can purchase her new – and very first – cookbook Homemade with Love, here.

Homemade with Love Cookbook
Thanks for watching food. curated.! We’re honored to be nominated for our 4th James Beard Award for Best Video Webcast 2013. Wish us luck in May. Happy Cooking! 


  1. Kristen says:

    This is absolutely fabulous. What a great story and you captured the essence of it so well.

  2. Tanya says:

    What an amazing woman.

  3. An inspirational being. Love you Jennie! xo

  4. Amber says:

    beautiful story

  5. Alejandra says:

    Amazing woman. Beautifully captured.

  6. What an inspiring story! I, too, cook for many of the same reasons that Jennie mentions. There’s a comfort, a familiarity that I find in the kitchen and in the process. Thanks for sharing Jennie’s story.

  7. Jennie says:


    Words can never fully capture the love and gratitude I feel for you including me in this series. The video you’ve made is a gift I’ll always cherish, both for myself, and my daughters. You’re an incredible storyteller, and one of the kindest, caring people I’ve had the good fortune to meet.


  8. Joan Bianco says:

    Liza, What a beautiful job of capturing what Jennifer is about. You did a wonderful job of portraying her determination and honoring her husband and her girls. Isabella and Virginia will appreciate this piece when they are older.

    Congratulations on this story and many good wishes on future pieces. I expect they’ll all be as outstanding as this one.

  9. Denise says:

    Very real and warm video, Jenni. I feel the same way about food. My sister asked me last week, why it was so important to cook. For me it is more then having to survive. It is a very creative outlet for me. I love being able to nourish the ones I love from the inside out – it creates warm, love, and memories. Food is the ultimate way to bring people together, to say I love you, I am sorry or just to make someone’s day.

  10. Liz says:

    I am not usually a fan of video but this and your entire site have changed me and my mind about video. I think of my own still photography as storytelling and love capturing snippets and stories in a photo so your storytelling resonates with me and specifically the way you captured some of Jennie’s story. I laughed, cried a bit but mainly I felt joy – joy for Jennie, joy for the story and the feeling of love and warmth that your storytelling captured.

    Thank you for a beautiful start to my day!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Hi Liz! Oh my goodness, thank you so much for your sweet note. It’s so good – for my own heart – to hear how my stories touch people. More than anything, I just try to really allow my stories to shine a light on intimate moments of food maker’s lives so you can really get to know them. Understand them. Root for them. So you can, in return, feel something. Feel love. Feel passion. Feel grateful. I tell stories because I want to connect to something I believe is so real in food: people. That’s why I love telling stories. It’s magic to me. People like Jennie are magic. Hope to keep in touch and I look forward to seeing your photos soon.

      Be well, and thanks so very much for stopping by.
      Warmly, Liza

  11. intxaurtsu says:

    Ufff…. overwhelming!!! Very touching video and a real lead to carry on. Strong, encouraging and stunning…………. Jenny is a big woman. Thanks for the video.

  12. Kristen says:

    I loved this. There’s a bunch of stuff I should be doing right now since it’s a weekday morning, and I wanted to just “listen” to this video while getting everyone ready for school and work, and I couldn’t stop watching it. I follow Jennie’s blog already, so I knew she was amazing, but this was just a great, compelling, touching video. Wonderfully done and wonderful subject. You ladies rock! Excited for Jennie’s book–it’s my Mother’s Day present. Looking forward to more from you both!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Awwww Kristen. I’m glad it moved you like it did me, and so many others. It’s nice to look at the things we do a little differently sometimes. Be well, Liza

  13. Michelle says:

    This is really beautiful. The music, the shot of cutting fennel, amazing. Jennie’s story is also very moving and honest. Great work.

  14. Chef Kendra says:

    This was a very nice, and well shot piece. I really enjoyed it. I sense of calm and comfort when I’m the kitchen and really agree with most of what she expressed so eloquently.

  15. Marilena says:

    I just stumbled upon this very moving video…… Jennie is an inspiration of strength, grace and eloquence. You are so enormously talented to be able to put together such a video. Love the music, the setting, the ability to captivate while you tell a story in just a few minutes!

  16. Tom says:

    I have followed your site for a while now, and enjoyed all the profiles you have posted, but this series by far is your best work. Really great!

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Wow. Thanks Tom. I really appreciate you saying that. I’m a bit more sensitive these days after a very challenging year, personally. It’s affected my work in beautiful ways, because my emotions are so raw. I guess, that’s a good thing. I’m searching for meaning, and I’m finding it in others. xxSkeeter

  17. Mehmet Ali says:

    You are a good story teller, that is for sure.

    I am one passionate food lover, i noticed this project in the beginning of your first posts. I was after after food. but your work showed me again that it is the people who turns ingredients into food and human is the only inseparable thing from good food. this post made sure of it. also your technique, your camera angles, choice of illumination, emphasized colors also creates something that i really want to watch no matter what story you tell, though i m just exaggerating to make a point :). keep up the good work and every once in a while, tell us a story apart from food. trust me, you are good at this, someone will watch and appreciate it.

    p.s. jennifer seems someone that everybody would want as a friend that he/she can hang around with, including me. lovely personality, strong character. good will from istanbul, turkey.

    • Liza de Guia says:

      Ali, Oh my gosh your note just made my day. Here I am sweating over an edit and needed a little boost of confidence and in comes your email. Thank you so much for your thoughts and for seeing, truly, what it is I’m after. You’re right, it’s the human element that makes food good. That passion that turns ordinary things into something worth seeking out, worth savoring. It’s people I’m passionate about more than food, and if you can see that in my stories, well, I’m doing exactly what I hoped to do. Which is to say, I just want you to fall in love with these people the way I do. See what I saw in them. Find the things that make them unique and stand out. For me, that’s what storytelling is all about…falling in love, seeing true beauty in others. And YES, Jennifer is a special one, and her story captures all that heart she has glowing inside her…right to the very end. xxLiza

  18. Cheers pal, I am a house producer your article was outstanding, it really heleped me. I hope my mixcloud mix will be better after reading this.Kind regards!

Leave a Reply