Welcome aboard, Chef Jenny Cornelius!
Indie-pendents, please help us welcome Chef Jenny Cornelius, former sous chef at Nino's Italian, to the Indie Plate culinary team!
Jenny brings to Indie Plate her years of fine dining experience and an established team dynamic with our culinary lead Chef Elton Hyndman, also owner of Nino's Italian. We have worked diligently to establish a highly-skilled kitchen team, and with Elton and Jenny's direction, we're ready to start rockin' and rollin'!
"When I was growing up, we rarely went out to eat. Both my parents enjoyed cooking at home, and I enjoyed eating. I was never afraid of eating what was on my plate and I loved getting my hands in anything in the kitchen. Summer days at home I'd make it a project to try out recipes as often as possible from forming raw hamburger patties, to rolling out spicy cheese-straw dough, and upon my older sister's request, making simple sandwiches for lunch because I had “the touch”. After a short time, I came to find that I had a knack for making something tasty from whatever we had on hand-- which is a skill I think I was able to tap into at Nino's when I began coming up with specials. Surveying the ingredients we already have, I'd ask what can I make with this? What can I pair with that? This is what excites me about coming to Indie Plate. I get to see what is in season and have fun with local ingredients.
Body image and eating disorders were always at the table in the Cornelius house (of girls). My sisters and I always had an uneasy eye on nutrition facts, fad diets, workout plans, waist lines, low-fat, sugar free, diet coke, 100 calorie snacks, etc! It's been an issue that I've grown up with, and could easily feel powerless over. But as I've grown in my culinary skills and my relationship with food has evolved, I have become more and more passionate about how certain foods react in the body, which ingredients pack a nutritional punch to a meal, and where those ingredients come from. I'm absolutely thrilled that through Indie Plate I have relationships with our farmers as well as with nutritionists and dietitians in Baton Rouge who are eager to help me design meals and recipes with integrity and optimal health in mind.
You could call me a locally sourced cook. I've been working in restaurants around Baton Rouge since I was 17. I started as a busser at the Little Village downtown, then as a hostess at Little Village on Airline for about 2 years. Then I found a little gem called Yvette Marie's where I worked front and back and graduated to manager for a few years. Although it's a quaint space, the lunch rush is major! And it was exhilarating! I realized how much I enjoyed working through busy shifts in the kitchen setting and wanted to learn as much as I could about cooking more professionally. I asked to pick up shifts at Bonanno's fine catering (owners of Yvette Marie's) but before I could get my hands in their dough, I met Elton and Randee Hyndman of Nino's Italian. So I asked them to take a chance on me. And the rest is history! I've been so honored to be their sous chef for the last 6 years. They've taught me so much more than I can say. We've been through a lot together, and I'm proud to be not only Elton's student and sous, but his friend. And I'm so excited to bring our Nino's philosophies over to Indie Plate.
Coming to Indie Plate is truly a culmination of my life's work and passions and my hope is that passion will be palpable in our meals. "
-Chef Jenny Cornelius