#028 – Jennifer O’Neil of Wood & Vine: An Executive Chef at 26-Years-Old

Jennifer O'Neil, executive chef at Wood & Vine
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Today we toast to women – women taking over and stepping up their game, and my guest sets an inspiring example. I am on the boat with the amazingly talented and beautiful Jennifer O’Neil, Executive Chef at Wood & Vine. She shares her absolutely incredible life story, gives us a peek behind the curtain into the life of an executive chef and discusses what it takes to achieve such a high level in the culinary world (is it as glamorous as it looks on TV?).

To give you some perspective on just how awesome Jennifer is: she’s only 26, and she’s in charge of a whole kitchen (and she’s been dreaming of this since she was seven)! One person who helped Jennifer make her dream a reality is chef Nyesha Arrington, who not only taught her technique but also how to treat and respect every person in the restaurant like family. So thank you, Jennifer, and thank you Nyesha because we can always use more badass, inspiring women!

We also discuss:

  • Rosé all day
  • Family, friends, and food
  • The many, many responsibilities of an executive chef
  • Working every position in the kitchen
  • The women who pushed us to do more
  • Empowering others
  • Feeding the Hamilton rush
  • Competitive cooking TV shows
  • Dreams for the future

Resources:

Executive Chef Jennifer O’Neil’s Bio:

Jennifer was born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She went to Cape Cod Regional Trade High School, then worked her way up the ladder in the restaurant business. She traveled to many states to learn first-hand the about the cuisines that people ate while growing up.

At the age of 25, she took her first executive chef job, working at Leona, a Jonathan Gold 101 restaurant, after being Nyesha Arrington’s CDC. Her food is based off global inspiration, consolidating different cuisines together, and making high-end comfort food that brings people together to enjoy the art of conversation away from their busy lives. Jennifer has also worked under chefs like Carlos Enriquez (pastry/bread chef), the Drago Brothers (Italian Cuisine), and Jason Fullilove (soul food cooking).

Jennifer hopes to own a restaurant someday. She loves to work with young chefs and help them grow and learn to become the best chefs they can be. She always states to her chefs, “if I can’t make you better then me than I’m not doing my job.” By staying humble, and continuing her growth in this industry, this chef has no limits on what she will do.