Wired Women: Jen Royle

10:00 AM


Wired Women profiles successful women with ties to Boston who are pursuing their passions. These women serve as an inspiration not only to myself, but to women and girls everywhere who are eager to make waves in their field. These fab women will be sharing their stories twice a month while sharing their experiences. This week I'm profiling former sports reporter and chef Jen Royle. I had the pleasure of meeting Jen during her time at Babbo and found her incredible enthusiasm for food and her non-traditional career path inspiring. I think you will too!



Style Wire: You started your career in New York, What brought you back to New England
JR: Well, I had always wanted to live in New York City. It was my goal straight out of high school. So as soon as I graduated from college, I tried to make that happen. After about three years out of college, I ended up getting a cool job working for a fashion trade show company (I know, so random) which ended up getting bought out by a major corporation in NYC. So I accepted a job transfer, dumped my boyfriend of three years, and moved to Greenwich Village in February of 2000. I hated it at first, but after about three months, I truly felt like NYC was my home. I had never lived in a major city until then, so NYC was really my first true love. I didn't really live in Boston, well… I lived in Southie for four months (hated it) and Waltham with my boyfriend for six months, but that didn't count. 

After almost 11 years in New York City, I took a big job in Baltimore with CBS Radio and MASN, the Orioles TV Network. I hated Baltimore so much. I literally cried 60% of the time there. But in the end, I ended up learning more about myself than I may have in NYC. My last year in Baltimore, I started getting calls from radio and TV Networks in Boston. It was then I realized it was time to go home. My nephew and Godson, Frankie, was born in 2011 and I wanted to be closer to him. Plus my mom was a widow so it was important to me to head back to New England and be closer to my family.

SW: You've been a reporter, worked in radio, and are vocal on social media. What's your preferred media platform and why?
JR: Definitely radio. I have a pretty big personality and an even bigger mouth, and the reason why I never really landed a big TV job was because I never felt it was the right platform for me. I never told my agents that was what I wanted. Sure when I was younger I went after MLB sideline jobs, but looking back, that wasn't the best move for me. I really enjoyed writing and radio because I could give my own opinion. And being opinionated is really one of my biggest characteristics.

SW: As a female who has worked and excelled in traditionally male-dominated fields, how do you deal with the backlash and keep your head held high?
JR: Well I'll be the first to admit I didn't always handle things the right way on social media. But I had to learn the hard way. I think when you fight back and you argue with people online, it shows your insecurity. It took me a long time to realize that those people simply don't matter and that they are the minority. I used to focus so much on the bad stuff, now I only focus on the good because I'm comfortable in my own skin. I don't think it's conceited to say that I have never been happier with myself; my work, my life, my mind, my body, my everything. There is probably nothing anyone could say to me about me that would make me question myself. But again, it took me a long time to get here. A long time. 

SW: What inspired you to make the switch from the locker room to the kitchen?
JR: I've been cooking my whole life. I think thats what a lot of people don't know aside from my friends and family. I mean, when I went off to college, I had a $300 Kitchen Aid mixer packed. You know, in case I wanted to make bread in the dorm! I always dreamed of being a chef and considered culinary school after high school, but ended up taking a different route. 

I applied for the cooking reality show on ABC, The Taste, last summer, and ended up being chosen to fly to LA to audition for a team. I honestly did not think I'd get picked and packed for one week. Two weeks later, I was shopping in LA for underwear. I ended up cooking in the finale and finishing 5th [out of] 24. At that point, I was already bored with sports and didn't care if I watched another baseball game in my life, so I decided to go to Culinary School in Cambridge. I knew right away school wasn't for me. Even though everyone I knew told me not to go, I had to find out for myself. I left after a month and got a job at Mario Batali's new restaurant, Babbo Boston. I learned more on the job than I did in school. It was such an amazing experience, but again, I learned quickly that working in a restaurant wasn't for me either. Super long hours and very little pay. Not only that, I didn't get to see people enjoying the food. And for me, I wanted to interact with the customers and get feedback. In my mind, I just knew I had to become a private chef, which is what everyone told me to do in the first place. But again, I learned the hard way and had to find out for myself.

So I started my own company, Dare To Taste, named after my second cookbook. And I'm proud to say I am booked through November. I am so busy and so happy and am truly in the exact place I was meant to be in. I love what I'm doing, I am meeting so many amazing families, and I am feeding people my food.

SW: What inspires you about the Boston foodie scene? How do you see it evolving?
JR: For me, personally, I want to bring simple back. If I opened a restaurant it would be the things we ate as kids; chicken pot pie, beef stew, hot fudge sundaes, fried chicken, but done in a trendy way. I would love to serve milkshakes and apple pie with a touch of a modern twist so I have been working on that menu for the past six months with the hopes of making it a reality.

SW: Truman (her adorable bulldog) by your side, describe your ideal day in Boston. 
JR: Well my ideal day in Boston would be to keep Truman by my side, but that is just not possible because he's a pain in the ass. He hates to walk unless he knows there is something in it for him in the end. So it's kind of torture to bring him places because he sits in the middle of the street and refuses to move every block. 

I never used to get up early and now I'm on the computer by 8am working, creating menus and proposals, and responding to emails. This also means I'm in bed by 8pm, no joke. I make my own hours and I have no boss so it's nice to fit everything into one day which also includes a solid boxing session at the gym and one decent healthy meal. I'm trying to eat less cereal and more chicken and fish. I've lost so much weight over the past year, now I need to build some muscle. Waiting for Truman to get his ass off the pavement is not the best exercise! 

Jen is participating in this year's Haymakers for Hope Charity fight on October 7 to help KO cancer, you can donate to her cause here. You can connect with Jen on Twitter and Instagram.

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