When OSU Institute of Technology Culinary Arts alum, chef Jennifer Hill Booker, found her livelihood suddenly shut down due to the pandemic, she decided to use that downtime and her culinary talents to create a new product line; Your Resident Gourmet Cooks! Sugar & Spice Line.
This product line boasts seven products: seasoning salts, spice blends, flavored sugars, candy sprinkles and her newest addition, Juneteenth Jubilee Punch Hibiscus Lemonade Mix.
“To be honest, after the pandemic shut down the world, I found myself without my regular cooking gigs,” said Booker. “Turning my spices, seasoning salts and rubs into a line of packaged retail items gave me something to do and a source of income.”
Booker’s culinary path has not always been a linear one. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Tulsa, but then followed her true passion and enrolled into the School of Culinary Arts at OSUIT, where she graduated 18 months later at the top of her class. While married to a United States Army Officer, extensive travel pushed Booker to blaze a trail that fit her unique situation, a female African American chef living abroad. As a result, her culinary company, Your Resident Gourmet, was born. During her time living in Germany, Booker honed her culinary talents by providing cooking classes for both U.S. military and German families. She also fulfilled a lifelong dream of attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Paris, where she once again graduated top of her class.
Twenty years later, Booker finds herself once again blazing culinary trails. She wears many culinary hats as a chef, reality TV personality, culinary educator, business owner and cookbook author of Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes with a French Accent, Dinner Déjà Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow and her first illustrated children's book, Jelly Fries A Fish For Dinner.
She said that she noticed during the pandemic, because people couldn't go out to eat and that everyone was home, they were cooking more.
“People weren't able to eat at their favorite restaurants and were doing a lot more cooking at home,” she added. “But not getting that same flavor profile. So my spice line was also a way to help home cooks be successful when cooking their favorite dishes.”
Her current line of spices includes Moulin Rouge Sassy Salt, Duck Duck Chicken Poultry Seasoning & Rub, Shimmer Sugar, Starlight & Moonbeams Sprinkles, Deep South SeasonALL, and Baby It’s Cold Outside Chili Seasoning.
Her new addition to the line is called Juneteenth Jubilee Punch, a bright hibiscus-infused lemonade with notes of lemon and honey. A commemorative jar was created for the new product in celebration of freedom, community and Juneteenth; the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
“I added the hibiscus lemonade mix as a fun way to add some color and bright flavors to my product line, she said. “As well as a way to raise awareness about Juneteenth to my followers. “
Booker said the spice line consists of recipes that she has used throughout her cooking career. People fell in love with the way their favorite dishes were seasoned and would ask for the recipes. So she would make up a batch and gift them to her clients, family and friends. I found myself getting requests for custom spice blends for everything from wedding gifts, BBQs and housewarming gifts.
“The feedback Your Resident Gourmet Sugar & Spice Line has received from customers has been incredible! “said Booker. “I believe that’s because my spice blends and seasoning salts are easy to use, affordable, a huge time saver and you only need that one blend for most recipes- instead of buying several different containers of herbs and spices and trying to make it yourself.”
Chef Booker’s collection of spices, rubs and sprinkles can be found at chefjenniferhillbooker.com/pantry.