Ventura County Star Article about Mommy Bistro!

Miscellaneous | September 20, 2011 | By

My hair isn’t exactly how I wished it was. I was so worried about my food getting cold by the time I got there and it was hot and I was nervous…..’ya know what I mean??? But what a great article! Thank you Ventura County Star!!!

Name: Jessica Gesell

City: Simi Valley

Specialty: Comfort foods

Secret: Fresh ingredients

Catering to crowds: Have you ever wondered why expensive kitchen items frequently pop up on wedding registries? Well, those nifty kitchen gadgets have been known to inspire some to culinary greatness. It happened for Jessica Gesell, whose previous baking efforts could have been condensed into a single recipe — chocolate chip cookies. Her father used to tease her: “You really need to bake something more than chocolate chip cookies.”

But after her honeymoon, Gesell finally stopped admiring her KitchenAid food processor and baking sheets and picked up a cookbook. After that it was “full steam ahead,” with Gesell eventually starting a catering business — Sav’e Events and Catering — in Moorpark. She was highly sought after by major entertainment and hospital firms for her unique menus, which featured such dishes as flank steak stuffed with feta cheese and spinach, brown sugar-glazed salmon, chipotle sweet potatoes and Caesar salad with homemade anchovy dressing. “Our high-level clients requested us to cater their holiday parties four years in a row,” she said. “It was rewarding.”

Rewarding occupation: The spoils of success eventually played themselves out, as she and her friend/business partner decided to call it quits after several years, putting an end to the 14-hour work days. They opted instead to start families and become full-time moms. But Gesell’s culinary talent has not gone to waste, as she now lavishes her daughters, Charlotte and Olivia, and husband, Ryan, with a unique diet of fanciful dishes. It can be fire-roasted artichokes or Morning Glory breakfast sandwiches, along with the more customary spaghetti and enchiladas. Then come Gesell’s baking extravaganzas. “Whenever my daughters hear the KitchenAid going, they run to the kitchen because it means I’m baking something,” she said. It can be oatmeal cookies, blondies (white brownies with coconut and peanut butter chips), red velvet sandwich cookies or a flourless Nutella chocolate cake. Her present project is perfecting homemade ice cream with roasted bananas, which has generated its share of curiosity. “I’ve found a real passion for cooking,” she said, “and everyone seems to really love my efforts.”

Creative channeling: Gesell recently decided to channel her knowledge, experience and talent into a new outlet — blogging. What initially began as a method for sharing her recipes and stories attracted a gallery of like-minded folks who share her passion for motherhood and recipes. Gesell never tires of inventing new recipes or adjusting old ones. Sometimes her offerings are prompted by a craving. That’s what led to her drunken chicken (pollo borracho) featuring tequila, red and yellow peppers, onions and cilantro, and linguine with a cream sauce. Her filet mignon, with a flavorful whiskey cream sauce, also draws much interest, with its combination of butter, onions, garlic, beef stock, cream and ½ cup of whiskey. Her next project, her brother-in-law’s wedding, will feature a tower decorated with 300 macaroons. But there is one recipe that will never appear on her website, what she dubs “the perfect cookie.” The 3-inch oatmeal cookie is the ultimate combination of chocolate chip, toffee and oatmeal. “It’s the most delicious cookie I have ever tasted,” she said. “But for now, it’s under lock and key.”


  1. Leave a Reply

    Crystal Gesell Ahlemann
    September 21, 2011

    What a great article, kudos!! I am a lurker of your blog, came across it because I am FB friends with Ryan, who I am only friends with because I saw his name in the credits of a movie (The Perfect Getaway) and we share the same last name and I thought “Wow, maybe we are related!” So I sent him a weird FB invite proclaiming I wasn’t a weirdo or a stalker and he accepted my friend request anyway, LOL! Anyway, I have enjoyed your recipes and stories and just wanted to say keep it going! 🙂

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