My name is Jennifer, but you can call me Jen. I live in Toronto, Canada with my husband and 3 children (in 2012, ages 5, 2, and infant).

There are many things I am passionate about, but I can say that food, travel, and design are some of the biggest influences in my life. I was born in the Philippines, where I was raised in a very traditional Chinese way by my very Chinese family. I looked up to my paternal grandmother (our matriarch – who passed away in 2009 at age 99), as I helped her prepare our daily meals in the kitchen and learned all the tricks to running a household. You can say that I was attached to her apron strings for a very long time.

My grandmother was a very good cook. She taught me regional Chinese cooking, particularly Fukien or Hokkien-style. However, what she knew in the kitchen did not come from a book or a handed-down recipe; they were from instructions she received in the orphanage in Amoy, China where she grew up. When the war came to her village, she was able to escape China with the help of some villagers and soldiers. She, then, landed in Manila, Philippines, where she went on to marry my Chinese grandfather. They had 11 children altogether: 9 of their own, and 2 step children. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away right after the birth of their youngest child, who is my father. All of my grandmother’s life was spent caring for her 11 children. She cooked every meal they ate; washed and mended every clothing they wore; worked for every penny they’ve got. She never remarried, choosing to dedicate all her time to her children. Not only was she my hero; she was my loving amah.

Life in the Philippines was not always easy, especially for my father. We found ourselves packing our belongings to move here to Canada, in search of greener pastures. When I arrived in this country, I had long forgotten how to cook. As an angst-ridden teenager, I had abandoned the kitchen, replacing it with many of the usual young girls’ distractions. One day, in my 20′s, I became very hungry again and decided to venture into the land of pots and pans one more time. I had to re-learn many basic stuff: from boiling an egg to cooking rice. Coincidentally, I was still single then, so I had plenty of time to experiment, thus allowing me to make my mistakes in the kitchen (hello, burnt ceiling!) before I got my act together.

Today, I have resurrected my love for food and cooking. Needless to say, I have a collection of cook books to learn from. Pictures of delicious food have inspired me to pick up my camera and start photographing what I eat and make. Hence, I found myself starting a travel and food blog, Folie à Deux (now closed), with aspirations of becoming a travel and food writer / photographer.

This passion for travel began as a child, when my parents took me travelling a lot – which probably explains why I got the “itchy feet” syndrome. If there was one thing my parents really instilled in me (aside from their desire for me to go to Med school – didn’t happen!), it was the appreciation for travel and food. My early life was full of memories of both! From London to Hong Kong and Rome to Tokyo, we were always eating our way around!

Fast forward to this day, I find myself with 3 kids of my own, spending more time in the kitchen than in airplanes! So, I quietly set aside my dreams of vagabonding, replacing it with the reality of feeding 5 people, three times a day. Wanting the best for my kids naturally, I started to spend more time in the kitchen, adapting recipes and tweaking them to suit the varied tastes of our family. Yup, kids are hard to feed, but I learned quickly that if you make food very pretty, you can sneak in all the good stuff for them to enjoy! After all, it’s been said that we eat with our eyes first! I pray that my kids learn to appreciate the loving process that goes into home cooking.

That is why I chronicle this journey in Tartine and Apron Strings…

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina@flourtrader April 13, 2012 at 2:10 am

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving so many sweet comments!


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic June 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

Hi Jen, I’m a new reader and just wanted to say that I really like your blog and your beautiful pictures. I’m happy I stumbled upon your blog!
PS – I am a Pinay food blogger as well :)


Marivic June 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Hi Jen, Found you through 80 Breakfasts. Your photos are divine, your recipes enticing, your “about me” page is inspiring and is a perfect backdrop for a novel/movie! I would love to be able to write an “about me” page like that (but I’m still shy and hiding–haha). Will be following and cooking!


Cass @foodmyfriend July 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Hi Jen, I love your blog and everything you are doing here. I have added you to my ‘blogs I love’ roll. Have a beautiful day x


Vijitha October 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I enjoyed reading your about page Jen. Even I am very close to my paternal grand mom and all my cooking genes came from her. She is 80 now and still like to get creative with non-Indian ingredients. That surprises me. She will request me to bring her come pasta so she can make something Indian out of it :-) I truly understand your love for her as even I feel the same way about my “achi” (that’s how we refer to paternal grandmother in South India). I feel a honesty in your writing and that is going to make me come back to your blog often.


DeeAnn November 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Beautiful blog Jen, the pictures and recipies are amazing! Cant wait to try!


shida November 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Hi Jen – Today is black friday here in USA and I’m looking for turkey leftover recipes and I stumbled over your blog. I have say this to YOU, I just LOOOOVVEEE it. I’m sure you will hear from me more. My family loves Thai food.


JocelynR January 25, 2013 at 9:04 am

Hi Jen- I am a new reader. I find your recipes irresistible and your stories and travels fascinating. I love your blog!It is truly one of the best!!!


Katie January 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Your grandmother’s story is absolutely inspiring- she sounds like a wonderful woman! Your photos are absolutely breathtaking too- you must be able to sneak a lot of good stuff into your kids with such beautiful food :)


Kezzie January 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

What an amazing background! Your grandmother sounds amazing!


Grace Chen February 9, 2013 at 2:17 am

I absolutely love your style! Your recipes are refreshing and the pictures are beautiful. I have been on a gluten free diet for some weeks and loving it. Although it has been difficult as I am currently in pastry school (a career change from medicine). Looking forward to more posts and recipes.


Christina April 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I stumbled upon your site today and I am completely enamored. Not only by your recipes but also by your site’s aesthetic. Your photos and styling are gorgeous and I can’t wait to start trying some of your recipes.


Glorife Simon April 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Great blog! Just found it the other day, and it’s been bookmarked as favorite already. Love your writing, love the food, and LOOOOVE the recipes. :) love it!


may May 13, 2013 at 8:15 am

hi jen
like the others, i stumbled upon your site when i was googling for a delicious cassava cake recipe. Tried your cassava recipe this evening and it was yummylicious! Thank you! Will continue to explore the other recipes that you have………….Love your pics by the way!


Tina Aguila June 18, 2013 at 12:24 am

Hello Jen,

WOW. Your food shots and styling is amazing. Was all of this self taught??? You have such a creative and tasteful eye for food and propping it. Not only does it look enticingly delicious… I can’t help but smile at the photos! I feel the same way when I eat something I really like.. all giddy and bouncy. I stumbled upon your Chicken Adobo page and I look forward to your next posts! I am actually starting a food blog here in Vegas, launching next year. It’s a mother’s quest for the best in Vegas, on a budget. I’m too handicapped with an SLR so I shoot with a Lumix GF1 and a 20mm lens. What camera do you use? Would you have any websites that could help me hone my shooting/styling/editing skills, especially for indoor restaurant situations (where i can’t really manipulate a lot of elements)? Any personal tips you are willing to part with? Thanks a lot and although it may sound really dorky, I am a huge, HUGE fan. :)


Kristena August 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hey there! I stumbled on to your blog while cruising on Pinterest. Your recipes look absolutely amazing! My boyfriend is a chef and I often find myself feeling intimidated to cool for him. Your recipes look beautiful and the directions are so simple and easy! Anyway thank you! I’ll be following you for now on! Cheers


Karen Motz August 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

I just found your website and everything looks so yummy! Your recipes look delicious and the photographs are amazing! There are several recipes I’m excited to try. Thank you for all the work you put into your site! I’ll be looking forward to your new posts in my reader. :-)


Katie September 8, 2013 at 6:19 am

Hello! I love your photography, what kind of camera are you using? Do you do shoots for hire? Are you ever in the states to do so?


Jo February 2, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Hi Jen I just came across you blog and its just gorgeous as are your littles ones! They are so adorable. I love you Market Mediterranean Pizza recipe. All the best, Jo


Allyson April 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Wow your photos are amazing! Hope to gleam some inspiration from you


Isara Krieger April 30, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Hi Jen! I just wanted to say hello and how much I love your site! I’ve started writing recipe roundups for a site called Brit + Co. and I use your beautiful photographs often =) Your site is inspiration for my own dining out blog (alonewithacupcake.com) and I hope to be as established as you some day! Beautiful kids too.



Jen July 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Hi Isara, Thanks for reaching out! It makes me happy to meet so many like-minded people through blogging! I hope we can connect often. Warmest,


neha May 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Hi Jen,

Just came cross your website just surfing and I must say I straight away fell in love. the food you make is soo beautiful and the sight of it just makes you fall in love !! love at first sight.

just read about your story and felt so touched :) Just want to wish you luck and definitely you are an inspiration to a lot of people out there .

Neha ( another food lover )


Jen July 25, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Thank you, Neha! I appreciate your kind words! Hope to connect with you often! -Jen


Aradna June 25, 2014 at 10:14 am

love it. I just found you today. and I am glad I did. Incredible site.


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