When asked to concoct a blurb about myself in third person for a publication (um, doesn’t referring to yourself in third person make her, I mean me, a narcissist?), here’s what I wrote: “Jen, who’s pretty sure she’s at least 1% panda, is the creator of Roll with Jen. When not globetrotting, Jen can often be spotted cycling around the streets of Seattle at a pace that puts her neck-in-neck with slow joggers and low-achieving speed walkers. Jen has always taken food seriously, even selecting a university based on its close proximity to her favorite astronaut ice cream dispensary, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.”
You seriously want to hear more? Here are excerpts from a fun interview conducted by the editor of Clementine Daily, Amanda Carter Gomes. Ok, now back to eating airplane food. In addition to rollwithjen.com, you can find my writing on Eater Seattle and Seattle Magazine.
You are a food, travel and lifestyle writer AND you have a full-time “day job.” What was the impetus for starting your site and essentially delving into a second career?
Back in 2010, I was working at a creative digital agency where I was surrounded by all these rad and talented designers, art directors, creative directors and writers. They inspired me to want to pursue my own creative outlet.
Coincidentally at the same time, I was developing a reputation with my friends and colleagues as the chick who lives for travel and eat out. I kept having more and more friends ask me for date recommendations or tips on the best brunch spots. I also started writing out full trip itineraries for friends and friends of friends so the blog was an easy way for me to direct people to my city guides.
What insights into travel and food do you provide your readers?
I’d describe the bulk of my readers as busy people (whether they have demanding 9-5 jobs, chefs who work 12 hour days or stay-at-home moms with little free time) who are short on time but still crave adventure, unique experiences and an overall great time.
I describe myself as someone who loves fun adventures and will go out of my way to find the best food anywhere and everywhere (whether it’s driving to Kent to check out a Chinese restaurant that I hear serves up a to-die for crispy fish with chili peppers or rushing to Pioneer Square when I only have an hour for lunch because I HAVE TO GET MY DAILY SERVING OF LITTLE UNCLE’S BRAISED BEEF NOODLE DISH (RIP)).
I’m naturally drawn to new/unusual/authentic things and have my ear (and my pie hole) to the ground for fun new restaurant experiences, cool weekend spots and international travel spots. I seek out authentic, hip, modern and non-cheesy experiences. I seem to have a sixth sense for spotting trends and deciphering the ones that are legit and will stick around (tree houses as a fun lodging option) and not devoting time and coverage to the ones that are as fleeting (the cronut).
Will you name your favorite place on the map and the best meal you have eaten or experienced?
Gosh, that’s so hard! I’ve definitely eaten at my fair share of multi-course meals that last for hours where they refold your napkin into a swan or dolphin when you get up and go to the bathroom…and I’ve loved them all (NYC’s Eleven Madison Park is probably my favorite in that genre, Matsalen in Stockhom is up there too and Bo Innovation in Hong Kong rules).
But my most memorable eating experiences are the ones that aren’t fancy. There’s something sort of raw and authentic about them and generally involve eating with hands. On that list: Eating saltwater prawns in West Sweden with a life-long fisherman after catching the prawns with him on his boat, eating chili crab for the first time in Singapore (many, many napkins were involved, and I think I ended up having to bleach my shirt afterwards to remove all of the stains).
You are also incredibly athletic and attempt physical feats that intimidate most (really!); where do you find the energy (and desire) to literally tackle it all?
I’m happiest and in my element the most when I’m on an adventure, eating, exploring in the woods or a new city, on a mountain, or doing anything outside.
If I were a dog, I’d probably be one of those Jack Russell Terriers. I hear they need a lot of exercise or they start chewing on furniture or something.
Name five travel essentials you wouldn’t want to live without.
What is the best compliment you have ever given a chef?
“Chef, you’re not as much of a jerk as people think. You’re actually kinda nice.”