2016 Recipient – Jennifer Smith – Owner and Chef of Traveling Chef LLC

Jennifer Smith is The Traveling Chef who began her quest for culinary excellence at Ozarks Technical Community College.

As a culinary/hospitality student starting in 1997, Jennifer gained the experience she needed through a wide variety of classes offered by the culinary program. Plus, Jennifer was able to network with local chefs and industry people while continuing her education at OTC. The practical experience added another element to her college experience that she couldn’t have gained in any other way.

After leaving OTC, Jennifer went to work at The Tower Club as a line cook and was later promoted to assistant maître d’. She also worked at Millwood Country Club and the James River Grille.

Jennifer later went to work for Noble and Associates as an assistant development chef. There, Jennifer worked for clients such as Tyson Foods and traveled to corporate headquarters for companies like Blimpie, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen and Schwan’s with new menu development presentations.

In 2004, Jennifer decided she had what it takes to start a catering business. Ready to become the entrepreneur she had always wanted to be, Jennifer started The Traveling Chef by catering weddings and intimate parties.

She is especially proud of her work at numerous non-profit events and fundraisers.

She and her husband Chris Bailey have been married for four years. They have a 19–year-old son, Stockton.

A highlight of Jennifer’s career was having her food mentioned on Oprah. com. Oprah was looking for quick and simple appetizers and Jennifer was contact by the Missouri Board of Tourism to submit recipes.

For the last five years, her business has been named one of the top 2 best caterers by 417 Magazine and the No. 1 caterer in southwest Missouri.

The Traveling Chef is known for unique appetizers and bite size desserts. Jennifer says she to keep the food fresh, on trend and colorful appealing to the eye as well as the palate. Holiday meals are her favorite meals to prepare at home by putting a new spin on traditional favorites.

“My grandmother was my food inspiration. She would spend hours with us in the kitchen teaching us how to make homemade pretzels, rolls and the art of decorating food,” Jennifer says.

“She was incredibly patient in the kitchen and up until the day she passed she would tell me ‘if she was younger, I would love to be your sous chef.’”