People Connected By Similar Obsessions

Jess Larson

Meet the site merchandiser turned full-time foodie

From her witty blog name to her enthusiastic prose, Jess Larson’s joy when it comes to food is palpable—contagious even. And while Plays Well with Butter provided her with creative escape whilst cranking out 70-hour corporate workweeks, it was hearing her shero Ina Garten speak about leaving her day job that sparked her epiphany. “I’m type-A, and it’s against my type-A nature to half-ass anything,” Ina told the crowd. It was then that Jess knew what she had to do.

Last summer, she put in her two weeks’ notice and hasn’t looked back, now devoting her days to developing easy, gorgeous recipes that are all about entertaining and celebration. “After all, that's the best part of cooking,” she tells us, “...sharing the food with your favorite people!

On the proudest moment of her career. “I think the biggest pinch me moment was putting in my notice that I was leaving what I thought was my dream job in the corporate world to chase my entrepreneurial dreams. I worked so hard to get to that point. On one hand, I was absolutely terrified at the leap of faith I was taking, and on the other hand, I couldn't have felt more confident in my decision or my skills. It's one of those moments I look back on and know that following my heart and trusting my gut was the right thing to do.”

On her best tricks. “In the kitchen, I use a microplane to grate garlic. Garlic always tastes better fresh (vs. the minced stuff you buy in a jar at the store), but it's not fun to peel and it's even less fun to have garlicky fingers for the next three days. I run peeled garlic over a microplane to finely grate it into whatever I'm cooking—no garlic fingers, and it adds loads of flavor to any dish. In my home, I always pick up fresh flowers. I love the way they brighten up any room and make everything feel so much fresher and happier. They’re well worth the extra couple of bucks at the farmers’ market!”

On advice she’d give her 18-year-old self. “Follow your heart and trust your gut! There will be many times when you overthink things, and aren’t quite sure of the right thing to do. But ten years from now, you'll look back and realize you knew what was right all along. Chase those dreams fearlessly and know that you can totally do it. (On an unrelated but also important note, prepare yourself: McDreamy dies, and it's kind of devastating.)”