Written by Courtney Ingle | Photographed by Paul Wolf
Bopping in and around Fondren, one person strikes as familiar: Jessica Glenn.
She has worked in several Fondren restaurants including Babalu Tapas & Tacos and Miso, and can currently be found at Barrelhouse, Sneaky Beans, and Lou’s Full-Serv in Belhaven.
Glenn has been woven into the Fondren food scene, and that’s something she celebrates.
“I really like food, and that’s been a very important part of my life,” said Glenn.
The 23-year-old grew up in an impoverished South Jackson home and said that framed the way she views food today.
“It was one of those situations where I was not certain where the next meal was coming from,” Glenn said. “So I think that has really shaped my philosophy about food.”
That philosophy is simple: food brings people together and unites them as a family, as nothing else quite can.
“There’s something that’s very comforting about food. It’s very heartfelt if someone cooks for you.”
Glenn said she began to see food as a uniting force for the community when she started her very first job at Pan-Asia.
“I fell in love with that atmosphere,” Glenn said. “There’s a certain level of community that comes from not only serving people in your community but also the people that you work with… I think there’s something very beautiful about working in the service industry.”
As a Hinds Community College graduate, Glenn was driven, always finding ways to better herself, whether that was Phi Theta Kappa, math classes or speech and debate. She sees that in her career every day.
“Having to talk to people every day on what I like… but also give them a reason behind that,” said Glenn. “And then be able to say that if they like this type of food, then this may fit their preference.”
While Glenn has spent the last three years in the food service industry in Fondren, her dreams have her eventually leaving the area. She and her boyfriend of two years have hopes of moving to Colorado and starting a Southern cuisine restaurant.
“The one thing I’ve learned about Southern cuisine,” said Glenn “is that it is about balance, in the proportions and balancing flavors. Like your sweet to your salty.”
Glenn said she feels she has a good grasp on how to make a restaurant run from a server’s perspective or a hostess’ perspective. “Just working where I have worked… I have gained a lot of knowledge that people rarely see.”
As Glenn prepares to make her eventual move, she said she wouldn’t be able to leave Fondren behind.
“Fondren has just shaped my mentality in general in wanting to serve people, wanting to help people, and wanting to show people that food is about more than eating. Fondren itself has this sort of New Age flair to old traditions. While my generation tries to get rid of those traditions and those tropes, I think there’s something very beautiful there, and I plan on taking that with me wherever I go.”