For over 30 years, Jennifer Cole has been a noteworthy chef in the food industry. Coming from a long line of family from Western NC (primarily Clyde, Canton, and Beaver Dam) she learned many of the region's culinary traditions from her grandmother. When her grandmother was not teaching at N. Canton Elementary, she could be found baking, cooking traditional mountain dishes, and canning. During Jennifer’s time at UNC-CH studying Political Science she learned how beautiful food could be while working as a server and cook.
These things brought her to her first culinary position as an apprentice at Heinz Schwab-Hedgerose Heights Inn and a few other places in Atlanta. It was after this that she landed an opportunity working as the pastry chef for Chef Susan Spicer at Bayona in New Orleans. Here Jennifer honed her skills with pastries, breads, ice creams, and sorbets.
After her time as a chef in the South at Bayona, she spent time in Europe for over a decade - primarily spending her time in Madrid and Paris. She was the chef-owner of Cornucopia in Madrid, an American Bistro, from 1996 - 2000. Cole also had the opportunities to work as a sous and CDC at three different one Michelin Star establishments and with notable chefs like Jean Paul Vinay, who was responsible for El Bulli’s 2nd Michelin Star. Her greatest achievement was being named “Best Female Chef in Madrid” during her time as Executive Chef at Ene by El Pais.
She then returned to the states and was the chef-owner of La Mujer Gala in Brooklyn and helped to open Taberna, another tapas restaurant, in the Upper West Side. With these projects she was able to share her love and knowledge of Spanish tapas in her restaurant. While operating those restaurants, she was also consulting in multiple locations in NYC. It was also during this time in NYC that she took part in the cooking competition “Chopped” and won. In 2014, she was the only female American Chef to be invited to the International Cognac Symposium to pair cognacs with food.
In 2015, she returned to NOLA to be the CDC at Bayona, working again with Susan Spicer, who at this point had landed herself into the James Beard Hall of Fame. Between this time and through the pandemic, she worked as the CDC at both Bacchanal (a James Beard Nominated Wine Program) and Toups Meatery for Isaac Toups (James Beard nominated chef). Along with her time as a chef in these establishments, she continued consulting and doing R&D for FS Food Groups.
In 2023, she returned home to WNC, where you can find her on her family’s farm most days. Now the Executive Chef at Avenue M, she is able to bring all of her talent to the table in a neighborhood environment. Jennifer’s years of training and experience has allowed her to master the technical aspects of cooking, while creating comforting and approachable dishes with local ingredients.