Joanne Johnston brings decades of experience in the culinary arts, and nearly a decade in assisted living settings, to her new role as Director of Dining Services at Youville House. According to Youville CEO/President Nicole Breslin, "Joanne's outgoing nature, curiosity and creativity will be major assets to our dining service at Youville House."
Joanne - who prefers to go by JoJo - has worked as a high end chef in multiple fine dining establishments. She completed a stage (a term used for culinary apprenticeships) with Michael Schlow, one of Boston's most famous chefs and restaurateurs. She recalls this experience as "extremely serious. The kitchen was often silent. If the shallot cuts were not absolutely perfect, they couldn't be used. It was intense, and very educational!"
As executive chef at a French restaurant in Lowell, JoJo had the opportunity to cook dinner for her hero, Julia Child. "Our restaurant was connected to a Barnes & Noble," she says, "and Julia Child was coming to do a book signing. So I thought it would be a nice gesture to prepare some of the recipes in her book and serve them to her. She was very gracious and complimentary."
With aging parents of her own, JoJo has always felt a sense of connection with older generations. At this stage in her career, she is glad to focus her talents on serving older adults. "There came a point when I realized that I could keep putting fancy plates in front of strangers, or I could be part of a community. I really enjoy knowing who my residents are and what they like."
When it comes to favorite foods, her interests range far and wide, from Greek cuisine and creative vegetarian dishes to French fare and seafood. JoJo is also a coffee enthusiast: at home, she buys her own beans and roasts them herself! In her spare time, she enjoys bluegrass music, riding her motorcycle and volunteering at her Greek Orthodox church.