Staff Profile: Chef Amy

Who’s that behind the counter, dishing out the Saturday samples, answering customer questions, and keeping the store running smoothly?

That’s Amy J, or, as we like to call her, “Chef Amy,” who co-manages AllSpice with Rory (whom we’ll profile soon).

I grew up in Mount Vernon, IA, and went to ISU for Hotel, Restaurant, & Institution Management (mouthful). I also got a secondary major in Spanish (please don’t quiz me).

Then I went to Chicago, where I got an accelerated associates degree in Culinary Arts from Kendall College (My dad likes to claim it was grad school – it wasn’t. This was much more fun).

How did you come to be part of the AllSpice crew?
The day after I moved back to Des Moines I roamed the East Village to find a part time job and stumbled into AllSpice. Seems their sense of humor and love of sarcasm matched up with mine, and they let me stay.

A few weeks later, they told me they had never had an employee who wasn’t retired [from a former career], and they asked me to come on full time. (laughs) Pretty steep competition, huh?

Official title, if you have one, and what is/are your main responsibility/ies at AllSpice?
I’m officially one of the managers, and “Chef Amy” in the newsletters. Sometimes if a staff member needs me they shout out “Hey, cooking lady!”

I get to do a lot of random and fun things: order product and supplies, put together the staff scheduling, find & create recipes that make use of our ingredients. I make the Saturday Samplers. Sometimes I get invited to talk to different groups about the world of AllSpice, which is always fun. I guess I basically do what ever “the ladies” — and Rory! — need.

Favorite ingredient in the store?
I’m partial to salt and sweets, so probably the Espresso Brava Salt. If only we sold brownies and ice cream.

What’s your favorite thing to cook?
I like baking but I’m not real good at the whole measuring thing. I probably enjoying making sauces and soups the most.

When someone else is doing the cooking, what’s your favorite dish?

Do you have a food that is your guilty pleasure?
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The kind with the fun shapes is my favorite.

Is there any food or ingredient you absolutely won’t eat?
I really dislike the consistency and textures of custards. Which I know is a shame. I ought to be more open-minded.

What do you do for fun, when you’re not having fun at AllSpice?
I’ve been trying to do more running and biking and generally really like anything outdoors. Pretty excited about it being Farmer’s Market Season too.

Can food be a hobby?

And I’m also lucky to have a lot of relatives in the area, and parents who live in the Ozarks, where it’s beautiful, so I spend a lot of time with them.

What about you would people find surprising?
I’m not much of a mystery. hmmm. I’m running a marathon this fall.  Oh! – and I’m a sucker for sappy commercials — they make me cry every time.