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Food and Wine | Balanced Living | Entrepreneurship | Environmentalism | Globalization | Education | Corporate Social Responsibility | Inspiration | Healthcare
The business part of Jesse Ziff Cool's story is about her rise as one of the few women who has become a resounding success as both a chef and a business owner in the competitive restaurant world. It is also a story about her dedication to sustainable agriculture and cuisine for more than 35 years.
Ms. Cool's story is also an inspirational one, encompassing many personal challenges. Prior to beginning her restaurant career, she put herself through college while a single parent. The welfare system helped her get through college, and now she sees herself as an example of the way welfare is supposed to work: as a resource to help those who temporarily need a leg up, as they struggle to support themselves.
After college, Jesse Cool crossed the country for a fresh start. She ended up in Palo Alto, California, birthplace of the digital revolution, back when so many exciting high tech innovations were just beginning.
Ms. Cool quietly started her own kind of revolution, opening one of the first organic restaurants in the country. It was a struggle to maintain her strong sense of idealism, since this was a time long before the word "organic" came to describe part of a growing trend of more healthful eating. In her early days, she was the only restaurateur in her area bringing in organic local produce, and often struggled to find reliable sources for the types of ingredients she needed. Ultimately, her dedication to her ideals paid off, and her restaurants became more and more successful, weathering the ups and downs of Silicon Valley's busts and booms.
Jesse Cool proudly remembers overcoming personal and professional challenges, including her personal struggle with an eating disorder, a tough challenge for someone who spends all day around food! She also experienced the types of setbacks all small business owners encounter, including cash flow crunches and near bankruptcy. Through it all, she held true to her "good food from good sources" ideals and made it all work, building her restaurants into successful local institutions.
After her many challenges and successes, Ms. Cool is nothing if not practical. Running successful restaurants while raising a family has given her hands-on experience in how to make her ideals work in real life. She often hears questions such as "Organic sounds great, but isn't it expensive? How do I make it work in my busy life?" After making healthy local food work in the competitive restaurant environment, she has many practical answers.
Jesse Cool finds her roots in her closeness to her family, which now includes two grandchildren. Many of her parents and grandparents were in the food business in one way or another, whether as farmers, bakers, or grocers. From them she learned the value of good food made from healthy ingredients, and she learned how much good food, eaten in good company, nurtures an important part of each of us.
Ms. Cool has been the creative force behind seven unique restaurants and the author of seven books as well as numerous articles. Her former restaurants include Late for the Train, Two Fools Café, and Jzcool Eatery and Wine Bar. Her present associations are Flea St. Café (1982), (1999), The Cool Café (2000), The Cool Café, and CoolEatz Catering at Menlo Business Park, 2010.
Jesse Cool is the author of Simply Organic released in spring 2008, The True and Real One Pot Cookbook (2006), Toast: Sixty Ways To Butter Your Toast and More (2003), Your Organic Kitchen (2000), Breakfast in Bed, (1997), Onions: A Country Garden Cookbook (Collins, SF 1995), and Tomatoes: A Country Garden Cookbook (1994).
In addition to her restaurants and numerous cookbooks, Jesse Ziff Cool is a guest lecturer at the Stanford Medical School and Stanford Cardiovascular Nursing School. She is also involved with teaching at the Stanford University STEP Program: Teaching Elementary School Teachers, teaching at Draeger's Culinary Center for ten years, Ahwahnee Chef's Holidays for 22 years, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Sur La Table. She is a consultant on organic sustainable eating for the National Park Service and a consultant for Stanford Hospital, having implemented the first organic menu option for patients. She has appeared on Fox Network's, KTVU Channel Two, NBC's The Today Show, The Food Network, and Bay TV. She is also the recipient of many business awards, including awards for "green" business practices and numerous Women Business Leader awards.
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