Why She's Interesting: Free time? Jessica Parkison's never heard of it. Since 2016, she's co-owned Salt in Lakewood with chef Jill Vedaa. Now, they plan to open two new restaurants: the East Side's Poppy and the West Side's Evelyn.
An Unexpected Path: Parkison learned to cook from her father and her grandmother. She even took part in Lakewood High School’s first culinary arts program. “I wanted to be a chef like my dad, but the universe had a different plan for me,” she says. While pregnant with her first child, she took front-of-house jobs to pay the bills and eventually landed in restaurant management.
California Dreamin’: Parkison first fell in love with wine on a trip to Napa, California, with her aunt. “That’s when I started this huge journey to become a sommelier,” she says. Since then, she’s befriended countless winemakers as she builds out Salt’s wine program.
Rosé All Day: Before going into business together, Parkison and Vedaa were just strangers who met in a bar. Parkison, by then a certified sommelier, was the manager at Humble Wine Bar when Vedaa came in looking for a bottle of rosé.
An Old Soul: Poppy is named after Parkison’s grandmother. “When you walk up, it’ll be like you’re sitting on your grandma’s porch when you were a kid,” she says. In colder months, they'll winterize the patio to become a speakeasy, Etta’s Place — Poppy's middle name.
All in the Family: Though not a professional chef, Parkison still loves cooking, especially for her husband and six kids ages 13 to 27. Her go-tos include spaghetti, lasagna and meatloaf: “I’m a mom, so it’s all that cozy stuff.” She often brings food for the restaurant staff, too, for what they call “family meal.”
Musically Inclined: This live music buff frequents Blossom Music Center and the Agora. “I’m not crazy about death metal, but for the most part, I’ll see anything,” she says.