Chef Jenica Sounart (B.S., hospitality management, ’17) has had a lifelong love of cooking. When she was four or five years old, she was caught by her family making pancakes on the stove. By 19, she was crafting specialty cupcakes for weddings.
Sounart got her start in preparing food for customers at Colorado State University’s Aspen Grille, the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition’s student-run restaurant in the Lory Student Center. As a CSU sophomore, she spent eight months in an Italian culinary school in Florence through a study abroad program. When she returned, she took a job as a dishwasher at Restaurant 415 in Fort Collins. Within two years, she was sous chef, making her own dishes and helping run the kitchen.
In 2019, she left Fort Collins for Los Angeles, where she took a cooking gig at Warner Brothers and then began working as a personal chef in the kitchens of LA elite. The pandemic closed her LA dreams and brought her home to Littleton, Colorado.
Rather than give up and take a restaurant job as everyone urged her, she decided to launch her own personal chef business in Denver, Chef Jenica.
Since her successful launch this summer, she has served individuals, families, friends and couples ranging from upscale four-course dinners to individually packaged healthy meals for the week. She adapts quickly to challenges, including working in tiny kitchens, missing key ingredients or serving picky eaters. In addition to serving meals and food preparation, Sounart offers cooking classes and cupcake orders.
“I don’t have a sous chef or a line chef or a boss,” she told Westword newspaper in August. “I figure it out in the moment, and that’s what makes a good personal chef…. Also multi-tasking, hearing their story, sharing any tips I can, and maybe staying and eating dessert with them.”
It’s her goal to bring joy through the food she prepares — and from the comfort of home.
“Have you ever had an incredible meal at a restaurant but received absolutely terrible service? It’s difficult to only think about what you ate and not the memories surrounding that time,” Sounart says. “Vice versa, have you ever been at a fun event but couldn’t help but notice that the whole meal was overcooked and under-seasoned? You won’t forget that either.”
Check out Sounart’s website at chefjenica.com.