Jenna Spensieri is only 19, but she is already dreaming big. The student from the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) is about to complete her last semester in the Superior Cuisine program, and plans to one day open her own restaurant in Montreal. Back on the journey of a rising star of Quebec cuisine.
Jenna says she developed her passion for cooking at an early age when she helped her grandmother prepare meals for her family.
“Many of us lived in our house, she spent a lot of time preparing meals for everyone and put a lot of effort into it. At the age of four, I decided to help him,” she recalls.
The Léonardoise explains that cooking has always been an integral part of the life of her family of Italian origin.
“On my mother’s side of the family, food is really, really important. There are many cooks in my family, so I have always been immersed in this environment.
Nearly ten years later, Jenna landed her first restaurant job at the age of 15, at the Porchetta restaurant, located in Little Italy. She then continued her professional career at the Giulietta pizzeria in Saint-Léonard.
“It reinforced my passion for Italian and rustic cuisine. I like to work with products like my grandmother did, so I have a great interest in everything related to pasta, traditional Italian dishes such as polenta or lamb. It’s really this kind of recipes that are close to my heart.
If you put love in your kitchen, that’s how you’ll succeed
Jenna Spensieri, student in the Superior Cuisine program at the ITHQ
Sharpen your knives at the ITHQ
After obtaining her diploma of vocational studies (DEP), it is with enthusiasm that Jenna joins the higher education program in cooking at the ITHQ in 2020.
“It’s going very well, my teachers are great. It’s a program where you work four days a week. It’s still intense, but I love it,” exclaims the young Léonardoise.
A rich experience that allows the student to develop her skills and her sense of creativity.
“We must quickly learn and use the techniques passed on to us by our chefs, who are also there to help us if necessary. I started creating dishes this year, and since then I find that I have improved my creative side a lot.”
Like the other students in her program, Jenna regularly participates in culinary competitions organized by her school and its partners.
“On the occasion of Quebec Pork Week at the ITHQ, we co-organized for the 6e consecutive year a culinary competition for their students. Students in Jenna’s program had to create plates showcasing the Rib Tips and rack of pork,” says Marie-Ève Lepage, member of the Pork Show organizing committee.
“I am very happy with the result, this kind of competition, it allows you to explore new things as was the case here”, says Jenna, who arrived 3e during the contest.
Head full of projects
Although Jenna concludes her adventure at the ITHQ at the end of the year, her career in the kitchen has only just begun.
“After my final internship, I plan to travel to France, Italy, Spain and Japan, always in the context of cooking, of course. I want to learn as much as possible, to one day come back here to Montreal and set up my own restaurant.”