Q&A: Jennifer Wallace
Mom, Designer, Cook, Rock 'n' Roll Wife
Hüsker Foöd: I became of fan of yours via your husband, Jimbo Wallace, the longtime bassist for Reverend Horton Heat, after he posted some photos of some amazing looking food you had fixed up, and after giving you a follow on Instagram, I immediately fell in love with your feed.
Everything you share looks so good I swear I can taste it! Are you a trained photographer? Do I need to learn how to take some photos to make my food look THAT good?
Jennifer: No I am not a trained photographer. Before I became a freelance designer I was an art director for a magazine and newspaper. I used to style photo shoots so I guess food styling comes naturally plus I like plating food! I think anyone can learn to take good photos. The number one suggestion I can make is take them in natural light. Also you can’t go wrong with an overhead shot.
Do you have any formal culinary training? Does your background in design aid your cooking?
I do not. Because my line of work is so deadline oriented I think it definitely helps with managing time in the kitchen. That’s often what stresses people out. Just like when I am working on a project for a client I can see the steps and I know how long it will take so that everything is finished at once.
How/when did you start cooking?
I grew up cooking with my mom but it has definitely evolved over the years!
Have you had any truly memorable meals lately? If so, what & where?
Yes! I was in New York City a few months ago and had dinner with a friend at Le French Diner on the Lower East Side. It’s a tiny restaurant with only 15 seats. It’s so small only three people work at the same time. We were able to get two seats at the open kitchen/bar where we could watch the chef cook a few feet away. My favorite dish was the grilled octopus with aioli.
Did you have a favorite meal growing up? A least favorite?
Mashed potatoes. It’s still my favorite. When I was in Paris last summer the first thing I wanted to eat were the cheesy mashed potatoes (Aligot) at La Petit Périgourdine. These beautifully whipped potatoes are served tableside and literally poured out of a copper pot onto your plate.
Least favorite, fried okra. Don’t know why I think it’s a texture thing.
Do you have a favorite summer recipe you’d be willing to share?
Since summer corn is the best, here is my recipe for Elotes. It’s not your typical gas station mayo version but easy to make and is the perfect side dish! Serves 8.
8 ears of fresh corn shucked
1 stick of butter
2 limes juiced
Salt & pepper to taste
Mexican crema (like La Vaquita or Cacique)
14-16oz of queso fresco crumbled
Valentina Salsa Picante Sauce
Avocado wedges and cilantro to garnish
Fill a large stockpot with 2/3 of water and bring to a boil. Add the corn and boil for 8 minutes then remove corn from the water. Let the corn cool for a few minutes then shave the corn off each cob into a large bowl.
Add the butter and stir until it is melted into the corn. Add the juice of two limes and salt and pepper to taste and stir. In a large serving bowl add one layer of the corn mixture then drizzle on some of the Mexican crema and sprinkle with queso fresco. Drizzle the Valentina to your liking and repeat these steps until all of the corn is layered in. Garnish with avocado wedges and cilantro and serve. You can also serve in cups with the same layer combo.
Were you a fan of RHH before meeting Jimbo?
No, I had never seen Reverend Horton Heat play. We met through mutual friends and he invited me to a show when we first began dating. Of course that was over 20 years ago!
Do you have a kitchen playlist/soundtrack? If so, what might we hear?
Yes, music is essential when I am cooking. You might even catch a glimpse of me dancing when I am chopping vegetables! The playlist varies on my mood. I listen to all kinds of music but lately I have been listening to some of the newer punk bands. My oldest DJs at a radio station every Tuesday evening where he spins a ton of punk music so he has been turning me onto bands like PUP.
Do you have a favorite band, or genre of music? Were you able to see your favorite band live?
That’s hard to pin down! I listen to a ton of new wave, punk, and alternative music but I also love New Orleans jazz to soul music. Dallas has a ton of great bands I keep on rotation too like the Polyphonic Spree, Old 97s, Tripping Daisy and the Toadies.
I’ve been fortunate to see and meet tons of bands over the years. One of my favorite bands to see live was Motörhead. Reverend Horton Heat did an entire tour with them. Lemmy also used to come out on tour with the guys and do a few songs. He was such a great guy.
Any tips on how to become a better home cook?
Get yourself a good knife and keep it sharpened. I have one knife that I use for everything. And recently I have been using a pressure cooker for a ton of dishes. I love it. It cuts cooking time way down!
Pepper only in grits, or nah?
Cheese is essential!
Anything you’re currently working on? A website my 3 readers can go to?
No, but they are welcome to follow me on Twitter or Instagram @watchmedesign where I often post photos and recipes.
Thank you so much for doing this!
All photos are the property of Jennifer Wallace and were used with her permission.
Photos included are:
- Crawfish Chowder
- Chicken Provençal
- Hoppin' John
- Blackberry Cobbler
- Pepperoncini Deviled Eggs
- Chicken/Cauliflower Mahkani
- Apple Pie