“Women have tremendous palates and work ethics. We don’t play with food, we cook to nurture and feed.”
BC: Tell us a little about your journey to your current position?
JW: I have done many things in my life and that’s what I like most about what I do. I started as an art teacher/photographer. I then studied cooking and got a Master Chef Diploma in France, studying with one of my mentors, Madeleine Kamman. I cooked at Chez Panisse for 5 years working with another mentor, Alice Waters. Then I began teaching cooking. I’ve written 17 Mediterranean focused cookbooks, write for many magazines, host culinary tours around the Mediterranean, and host a national cooking show on Public Television. I wrote one book about tequila and five and half years ago I opened Copita, a modern Mexican restaurant in Sausalito, California.
BC: How do you think your restaurant delivers a different experience to guests, and how are you apart of that vision?
JW: I like that our restaurant is warm, inviting and approachable. That is what I strive for.
BC: What is the first moment in your career when you felt truly proud?
JW: The first moment I was truly proud was 1985 when I received the inaugural, international Julia Child for Cooking Teacher of Excellence. I realized I was making a difference. Winning a James Beard Award was also a pivotal moment in my life.
BC: Three wines you could never go without?
JW: That’s hard! Kelly Fleming Rose of Cabernet (any vintage, she’s that good), 2014 Paul Hobbs Cuvee Agustina, Katherine Lindsay Pinot Noir, Trujillo Gary Morisoli Reserve 2013.
BC: What is something you’d like to see more of in the years to come?
JW: I’d love to see more women in the food and wine business whether it’s in the kitchen, FOH as restaurant managers, winemakers, TV cooking hosts and cooking teachers.
BC: Where do you go for inspiration? Similarly, who do you go to for inspiration?
JW: I take most of my inspiration from travel. Travel excites me. I also take inspiration from restaurants where there is a woman in the kitchen. I like food that’s straightforward, flavor forward but not trumped up. I find that with women chefs both in the Bay Area and around the world where I travel.