Born and raised in Oyster Bay, NY Juliet Peters has found great success in an unexpected place. Her career as a chef took her from New York City to London and back before she found her dream job in Atlanta. A job that allows her to teach, inspire, and give back to a community, all through cooking.
Jonathan Squibb: How did your career as a chef begin?
Chef Juliet Peters: After graduating college, I worked in sales and finance all over the five NY boroughs. Although it was a well-paying job, it was not a field that ignited any passion in me. I had more fondness for my first job peeling peaches in the corner of a bakery. At 24, I hosted a brunch for my sister and brother-in-law upon their return from their honeymoon in Europe. Comments and critiques from that brunch led me to meet with an admission’s counselor at The Peter Kump School later that week.
I loved every aspect of culinary school. I interned with Francois Payard and spent much of my time volunteering at The James Beard House. I was offered a job after graduation with Anton Edelmann at The Savoy Hotel in London so I packed my bags and left for England.
JS: Did you enjoy your time in London?
Chef Juliet: Despite the grueling work schedule, I found time to fall in love with London and an Englishman. I also started to focus on learning more about the operational and business side of the kitchen, which was very conducive at the time to starting a family. In 2004, my husband and I welcomed the arrival of our son Jack.
JS: What brought you back to the states?
Chef Juliet: A year after Jack was born, I decided it was time to move back to New York and get back into the industry, though that was short lived as I took a teaching job when a local college started a culinary school. When a chef position came available in Atlanta, we once again packed our bags to head south. It was a great move for us at the time, but I knew I would return to teaching if an opportunity came along again.
JS: When did you start working with Compass Group?
Chef Juliet: I recently celebrated my six year anniversary with Compass. I spent five years with FLIK International at King & Spalding. In addition to their in-house café, we catered major events for politicians, celebrities, and even a few weddings. Last year a unique position came available with Levy Restaurants. Levy, in partnership with the Atlanta Falcons, supports the City of Refuge’s 180° Culinary Arts Academy. The culinary instructor position was right up my alley, and truth be told, I was approaching 40 and felt I needed to “do something” to give back to a community that needed a chef that could teach and inspire as well as cook.
JS: Would you be able to provide some information about the culinary academy?
Chef Juliet: We provide practical culinary training that gives each student the foundation for all cooking techniques; knife skills, the importance of mise en place, equipment identification, food identification, food cost analysis, portion control, and waste management. We also teach kitchen etiquette and students learn how to move and communicate effectively in a kitchen. They learn to pay attention not only to their own task, but to what is happening in their environment. Adaptability is one of our key principals. We teach the students to understand the variables in their environment and how to thrive when the unexpected comes.
We also talk about the importance of eating local and sustainability. Each semester we take several field trips and always include one with a seasonal lesson. For example, in September, I take students to north Georgia where we visit orchards, pick apples, and discuss sustainability and how it applies to us as professionals and as consumers.
JS: How do you like living in Atlanta?
Chef Juliet: Although I’m a New Yorker at heart, we have created a wonderful home in the downtown Decatur community with our rescue dog Ernie.
JS: Anything else you would like share?
Chef Juliet: Honestly, just that I love my job. At the City of Refuge, there are times when the environment where I am bleeds into the lives of the students and into my class. Not every student will pass the class for various unfortunate reasons, but I take each success as the tremendous gift it is for the student whose life has been changed for taking this course.
Visit AltogetherGreat.com to learn more about two graduates of the 180° Culinary Arts Academy.