Letter from the Executive Director
Greetings from the JPF! 2020 was a year of shocks to our system. The COVID-19 pandemic sometimes felt like we were living in an action film and the car we were in suddenly veered off the bridge into the water and we were sinking. Like movie characters, we experienced multiple emotional responses as we responded to the distressing situation. Often, our confidence that we would swim free faded with each new realization – the seatbelt is stuck, the doors are locked, I can only hold my breath for so long.
For many, 2021 was an ongoing test of how long we can hold our breath. We faced questions of how can I make do with less, how can I keep myself and my family safe, how do we continue to exist in this new, underwater environment? This has been a year of adaptation. We have been forced to learn how to breathe differently, to reach deeper inside ourselves to find strength, to move slowly and methodically toward smaller goals. We have come to realize that, perhaps, in this new reality, each of us must be the hero that helps our family and our neighbors.
After another challenging year, the JPF continues to believe, maybe even more strongly, in the power of culinary education to improve lives. Demand for professional culinary and hospitality skills is skyrocketing and many folks found a new or renewed interest in cooking at home, partly by choice and partly out of necessity. The JPF helped satisfy these needs with continued support for our community kitchen partners, free award-winning video recipes on social media (Instagram, Facebook), and our Video Recipe Book for JPF Members. In addition, we added a Jacques Pépin Techniques on-line culinary course with our partner Rouxbe.com, allowing aspiring cooks to advance their craft and even earn a JPF/Rouxbe completion certificate and college credit.
All these programs and activities required new and expanded investment from the JPF in video production and curriculum development. In yet another year during which fundraising from in-person events was not available, our JPF team worked together to generate revenue with a complex mix of virtual events, promotions featuring posters of Jacques’ artwork or Jacques Torres’ chocolate bon-bons, individual donations, corporate sponsorships, and most importantly the JPF Membership. We are so very proud and grateful that so many of you have made it a priority to belong to our membership family, directly helping the Foundation's work to support community kitchen culinary programs.
We continue to hope and aspire and work toward brighter days. We know that many things are not within our control, but we also know that with an open mind and nimble posture we can find new ways to serve. And with commitment and perseverance we can provide strength in our industry and confidence in the kitchen.
The ability to cook continues to provide job opportunities, self-confidence, purpose, and economic and health benefits. This knowledge is our inspiration and driving force. With your help, the Foundation will continue to advance Jacques’ lifelong commitment to education, innovation, and support. On behalf of our Board and our staff, I wish you and everyone in your circle a warm, bright, and productive 2022!
Rollie Wesen, Executive Director