Hello, I’m Jess Dang, the voice behind this blog and the founder and owner of COOK + SMARTS. If we weren’t meeting in the virtual world, I’d give you a firm, friendly hand shake right about now, but since we are, here are a few more fun things you should know about me:
1. Food and people have been a consistent theme in my life.
- I grew up in the chaos of the restaurant industry thanks to my dad.
- During college, I lived in a co-op just so I could cook for 50 people on a regular basis.
- I hosted a supper club for friends and strangers out of my SF apartment so I could test out new recipe creations.
- Nothing makes me happier than being around food and people.
2. I am a problem solver.
- I find creative ways to fuel both me (a carnivore on a low-carb diet due to a family history of diabetes) and my husband (a vegetarian Ironman) every night.
- Thanks to my management consultant days, I am an Excel junkie and use it to organize all facets of life.
- I am an ESFP. According to Myers & Briggs, this means I love interacting with people and taking a hands-on approach to learning and solving problems.
3. I *heart* adventure and trying new things.
- I have traveled to over 20 countries and have made sure to eat delicious (and sometimes strange) dishes in all of them.
- I was on a reality TV show(!). Yes, I was selected for Season 2 of The Next Food Network Star. I tried out on a whim and had no real cooking experience back then and was sadly the first one kicked off. However, I still had the time of my life.
Though I have spent my full-time career in the corporate world and have thoroughly enjoyed everything I’ve learned there, I always knew that I should be doing something in food. In 2006 I started food blogging as a hobby after NFNS, and it gave me a great platform and audience to share all the recipes I was cooking up in my kitchen. The following year I took things a bit farther and started a boutique catering company. On the weekends I brought my recipes to Bay Area homes over deliciously fun birthday and anniversary celebrations. However, neither food ventures quite satisfied my desire to interact and help people on a more personal level, which is how COOK + SMARTS was conceived. It is the perfect mix of all the things I enjoy: cooking, interacting with people, and solving problems in a simple, practical way.