Jennifer Herrera is a culinary/baking/pastry chef, television personality, food writer, stylist, instructor, consultant, humanitarian, philanthropist, investor, activist and now chef and founder of the culinary movement and service, Vida Rica.
Jenni's culinary journey began at age four when her entrepreneurial spirit was enlightened, spending her weekends at her abuelita Hilda’s catering hall, The Tropicana in south Bronx. Jennifer’s love for cooking and inspiration in becoming a chef was manifested through her Puerto Rican mother’s magical Caribbean cooking.
At the start of her culinary career in NYC, Jennifer was introduced to her first culinary mentor, Chef Aaron Sanchez. Under his strong and supportive guidance, Jennifer mastered the fundamentals of contemporary Latin American cuisine. She also had the opportunity to experience the philanthropic world of the hospitality industry collaborating in every notable charity and nonprofit red carpet event in NYC.
Jennifer’s early journey lead her to a number of notable apprenticeships in outstanding New York City and internationally recognized institutions like the likes of Centrico, Zarela, Barbuto, Jean Georges, Laduree,Tribeca Grill, and Astrid y Gastón and worked under celebrated culinary legends, Zarela Martinez, Jonathan Waxman, Johnny Iuzzini, Iacapo Falai, Alex Garcia and Drew Nieporent, Gastón Acurio to name a few.
Empowered, determined and inspired with a hunger to make a name for herself; Jennifer took her world renowned restaurant experience and decided to venture out on her own at twenty-one years of age as a seasonal Private Chef for NYC and Miami socialite families in South Hampton, the Upper East Side, Greenwich, Connecticut, and Portland, Maine.
At the age of twenty-four, Jennifer launched her first company “Truffle and Basil Private Chef Group.”, a boutique Tri-state based Personal Chef service. As well as “The Blue Burner”, a Hell’s kitchen based boutique culinary cookery. She also established her own food-tech cupcake shoppe,“Cupcakes Moderne”, where she had the opportunity to sponsor many nonprofit red carpet events throughout the tri-state area including The SOHO House and the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
After quitting her early formal education to complete her notable apprenticeships and entrepreneurial pursuits; Jennifer decided to achieve both degrees at The Culinary Institute of America and The French Culinary Institute, studying both Culinary and Baking and Pastry Arts. Jennifer was then called to connect with her ancestral roots and move to both Ecuador and Puerto Rico.
Jenni first headed to Ecuador, volunteering at the orphanage Casa Hogar in Porto Viejo, Ecuador, after the wake of the 2016 earthquake. She curated and implemented the workshop “Cosechar tu futuro” (Harvest your future); a sustainable farm and self-reliant agripreneur transformational course.
Second, Jennifer spearheaded her team as a first responder, supporting the sourcing and activation of 22 kitchens throughout the entire island of Puerto Rico and producing over 3.5 million meals and feeding millions of people in the 70 days after hurricane Maria under the vision and direction of Chef Jose Andres, Erin Schrode, Nate Mook, and Non-Profit organization, World Central Kitchen.
Jennifer is global leader in sustainability, food systems, and social impact. She is the face and voice of the Puerto Rican Diaspora living on the island and making the difference. Check out her acknowledgment and interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, latest issue of Coastal Living magazine and Jose Andres’ book We Feed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time.
When Jennifer is not nourishing people or out saving the world, she loves volunteering of her time supporting local charities and nonprofits such as World Central Kitchen, The Clinton Global Initiative Action Network On Post-Disaster Recovery, Environmental Grantmakers Association, and The National Women’s Business Council just to name a few. She is also enjoying the current completion of her Yoga teacher Training Certification, spending quality time with her loving husband Alex, family, friends and puppy Cocoa Channel, study her Buddhist practice, journaling, hiking in the rainforest, meditating, swimming, dancing, and riding horses in her free time.