Jenny Townley Dunham


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Jenny and Julia


Cooking took on a whole new meaning for Jenny Dunham ’98 as a kitchen intern for legendary TV host Julia Child.


By Donna Parker

 

There are plenty of mouth-watering recipes in Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. Jenny Townley Dunham, who received a degree in management from Trinity in 1998, knows at least five by heart after preparing them as a television kitchen intern under the watchful eye of legendary chef and TV host Julia Child several years ago.

Right timing brought the two together.

"As part of my '99 externship, I worked at the Food Network. As the kitchen intern, I had an opportunity during Master's Week to work with Julia as she cooked a week's worth of dishes on camera. My role was to prepare all of the dishes five or six times each in various stages for the camera shots," explains Jenny.

"It was awesome and amazing to be in Julia Child's presence! She actually ate some of the food that I prepared and how many people can say that," laughs Jenny.

"I was a young person about to launch and it was incredibly inspirational to see this woman still doing what she loved and was so passionate about even well into her 90s. She was clearly having fun and doing it because she wanted to be doing it."

All of that led to Jenny making the recent daring decision, along with her husband, to open a novel mobile restaurant called J.T.'s Taco Stand in the middle of her hometown-Oklahoma City.

"Trinity was responsible for exposing me to all different cultures. Every Friday at noon my friends and I would meet at Panchito's Mexican Restaurant on McCullough. That's where I fell in love with fresh tortillas and absolutely any variety of taco! My restaurant is a chance to bring that culture here."

Jenny, who is also the mother of two girls; Olivia, 3 and Emily, 1, says things are a little crazy in their family right now as she and her husband, who is also a chef, begin to build their brand. That's happening rather quickly because Urban Spoon ranks them as the #1 restaurant in its Talk of the Town list. In addition, the food bloggers are online with glowing reviews.

"Trinity really got this process going," says Jenny. "It was small enough to be part of whatever you wanted, leading me to become a Gamma which I loved. Teachers like Dr. John Moore, department of education, were enthusiastic and engaged in hands-on learning. My advisor, Dr. Rita Kosnik, department of business administration, knew me by name and was so caring, never pushing me off."

"All of this instilled the confidence to attend culinary school post-graduation, which led me to the Food Network and my work with Julia Child. Now, I'm moving forward as an entrepreneur with my very own restaurant."

You may contact Jenny at jennydunham@gmail.com.

After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions. We are looking for suggestions in these four categories: 1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories.