Meet a ‘Crazy Gal’ Who Quit Her Job and Ran Off to Culinary School

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Every week, we’re spotlighting a different food blogger who’s shaking up the blogosphere with tempting recipes and knockout photography. Today, we chat with blogger Jennifer Farley, who specializes in “bold, bright, and exciting” dishes on her recipe blog, Savory Simple. Swing back all week for a new recipe from Farley every day.

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Jennifer Farley, the blogger behind Savory Simple, snaps a photo. Photo: savorysimple/Instagram

“Hello! I’m Jen,” greets Jennifer Farley on her six-year-old blog, Savory Simple. “I’m the crazy gal who dropped her entire life and went back to culinary school.”

“Crazy” is her word, not ours. But Farley’s life did take a drastic turn in 2010, when she quit her job as a network administrator for a small photography company in Baltimore, moved to the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and enrolled at nearby culinary school L'Academie de Cuisine. It was the culmination of about a decade’s worth of daydreams, which began when Farley first tuned into cooking and travel shows on television.

“I just developed this curiosity about it in my mid 20s that turned into an obsession,” she recalled, despite lacking much cooking experience herself. That obsession led to traveling, which led to in-depth research into restaurants and local delicacies around the world. In 2009, she decided to start a cooking blog, Savory Simple, combining the skills she’d learned using hand-me-down cameras at her old job with her newfound passion for food.

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Farley’s apple, cheddar and caramelized onion galette. Photo: Jennifer Farley

All the while, the desire to go to culinary school nagged at her: “It was a slow burn, but it definitely kept building,” Farley told us. “It’s one of those things that’s really terrifying to do, because it’s a career that has a lot of unknowns. It’s different than a 9-to-5 and it doesn’t pay very well. But sometimes you go with your gut, and that’s what my gut told me.”

So Farley bit the bullet and became a full-time culinary school student. But it wasn’t all sunflowers and daffodils — L'Academie de Cuisine required Farley to work in professional kitchens, which proved more than a little challenging.

“That was a brutal world, that last year and a half,” she said. Farley worked in two restaurants: the first, a vegan eatery called Great Sage in Clarksville, Md., was a “pretty good experience.” But the second, Black’s Bar & Kitchen in Bethesda, Md., was a “rough place to work.”

“The hours are really rough — it’s very, very intense — and the owner [Jeff Black] had kind of a Gordon Ramsay streak to him,” Farley said. “It was a hard place to work, and I came home crying to my husband many, many times.”

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Strawberry swirl “dream cake.”

The experience made one thing clear in her mind: She’d never work in a restaurant environment again. But Farley kept Savory Simple going strong, with recipes that ran the gamut from strawberry-ricotta crostini to orecchiette with Andouille sausage. Her work has since been featured by Bon Appétit, Food52, Food & Wine, The Huffington Post, The Kitchn, Williams-Sonoma, Parade, Cosmopolitan, and more. 

Despite the blog’s name, Farley doesn’t necessarily have a preference for savory foods. The one thing her recipes have in common is that they’re bold, bright, and exciting, she said. “Those are the adjectives that I try to go for when I’m presenting my pictures and when I’m creating food,” Farley explained. “When I’m shooting the pictures, I go for the darker backdrops because I feel like then the colors really pop. I also go for a minimal aesthetic with fewer props, because I want the food to really shine.”

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Asparagus, goat cheese, and chive quiche.

These days, Farley is hard at work on her second cookbook, a collection of recipes inspired by the blog. Her first, The Art of Slush, is all about slushies. After the second book is done, Farley’s future is uncertain.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s next, but I want to do something that has longevity,” she told us. “I’ve always felt that food blogging is a constantly evolving entity. It’s kind of exciting in that way. I’m going to sit down and figure that out.”

Circle back to Yahoo Food for a new recipe from Savory Simple every day this week.

More bloggers who should be on your radar:

Ali Larter Knows Her Way Around a Kitchen. No, Really

How This (Completely Healthy) Food Blogger Has Her Cake and Eats It, Too

Why getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to this food blogger

Who’s your favorite food blogger? Tell us below!