We had the good fortune of connecting with Janette Gomez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Janette, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am originally from Chicago, but moved to South Florida when I was 8. I am first generation Cuban-American and was a creative and ever questioning “big picture” child. I saw my grandparents and parents work hard for everything they came to. My grandfather owned his own wedding and portrait studio, so I witness the entrepreneurial sprit early on. Art, photography, movies always fascinated me and watching my grandmother cook and create was wondrous. The way ingredients became dishes that would later become memories of times gathered around the table with family was and is fascinating. I was an only child in my younger years, so I also became very independent. I entertained myself with art and reading. And when possible, I would cook with my grandmother or join my grandfather at one of his weddings. There are so many independent details about my upbringing that make up who I am today. The infusion of art and creativity, as well as, food memories at a young age developed passions that still live today. I also feel that as a creative person, if a path isn’t available that I feel is meant for me, I make my own.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am the Chef/Owner of The Fig & The Knife. I created a line of handcrafted, artisanal sauces and spice blends. I also offer Cooking Classes and Private Chef events. I am quite literally, Chief Cook & Bottle Washer. I oversee all aspects of the company from accounting, marketing to actual events and all of the photography. It is certainly difficult managing every branch of a business most days. It is not by choice, as one of the challenges of the entrepreneurial spirit and venturing out on your own is the risk and fluctuations in the market. But, I persevere despite challenges, including the most current pandemic. Ideally, I’d have a stellar team behind me, helping me across the finish line every day. But I believe that will come in time. I have the “yes, I can” spirit. I rarely back down from a challenge. Even if I don’t always know what I am doing, I trust that I will figure out a way. I like to say “I am a Jackie of all trades, and master of a few.” This was bound to happen as I do easily get bored. My wheels are constantly turning coming up with new ideas for a dish, a way to photograph something, a collaboration. I have a very varied professional background, not just culinary & creative, but also in education, in management in event production and more. I have a knack for pulling the skills from each and creating a new way to combine them all to make something new. Much like a dish.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ah, well as I moved here from South Florida a little over 3 years ago this is an easy question. Every time someone comes to visit, we seem to go to the same places. If the weather is right I love to go to Papago Park. The red rocks, and what seems like endless ways to take similar trails just makes me happy. Although, most folks enjoy going here for sunset (which, yes its beautiful) I prefer the serene quiet of nature. Speaking of serene nature South Mountain is another wonderful spot. Great hikes, great drives and great views. You can see the entire city from the west valley out to Scottsdale. A fun spot, that is a bit on the touristy side, but hey they are visiting is Gold Field Ghost Town. I love the feel of taking a little time to check out the views of the mountains while getting a feel for the old west. But even more than this touristy spot, is the fact that the Superstitious Mountains are a mile up the road. More hiking and gorgeous vistas! As for places to eat, I tend to like local spots. The privately owned small places that are Chef and ingredient driven. Such as Cotton & Copper in Tempe. Chef Tamara Stanger creates innovative dishes using local ingredients. Many of which she forages herself right off the trails on her days off. Another favorite spot is Barrio Cafe. Since 2002 Chef Silvana Esperanza Salcido has been bringing authentic Mexican food to Phoenix. This is not a chips and salsa place. Chef Silvana brings ancient flavors from Mexico, including Mayan, Aztec, Oaxacan and more. An incredible place. I also love Abyssnia Ethopian Cafe. The owners are so warm and friendly and make amazing dishes. No matter how much time passes, they always remember me. This is how I like to spend my time and money, with others who appreciate food and what it means to our souls. Of course a trip to Phoenix wouldn’t be complete with out ART!! Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum are always on my list. And let’s not forget the stellar street art our city has to offer. The murals are world class and worth every stop along a side street you need to take to see them.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many who were instrumental in molding pieces of my life that are now ‘who’ I am. On a daily basis I can recall someone that had an influence on what I just did. For example, my grandmother was a huge part of why I love cooking. My grandfather, gave me my passion for photography. My parents instilled a sense of independence. My step mom also exposed me to more culinary influences. My partners who joined me on world travels. All of the customers who love what I do every day. I know I am being general, but those who know, know!
Youtube: The Fig & The Knife
All Photos of me were taken by Barbara Hernandez Photography All photos of food, products etc. were taken by Janette Gomez (self)