When Annie Fenn retired after practicing obstetrics and gynecology for two decades, she had no intention of jumping into another career. But now, the woman behind the well-loved Jackson Hole foodie blog is creating new career that combines her two passions: cooking and helping people stay healthy.
Some people would pause after retiring and just relax. But not Fenn. Her drive and appetite for trying something new was quickly corralled into sharing stories from her kitchen with others. She wrote her first blog post the day after she closed her practice.
“I never planned on becoming a food writer at all,” she says. “But after my very last day of practice, a bunch of my girlfriends took me out for drinks at Nani’s. My girlfriend gave me a gag gift called Blogging for Dummies.”
And, thankfully for local food-lovers, she began to write. Her blog, JacksonHoleFoodie.com, now features recipe after recipe for homemade huckleberry jams, ricotta gnocchi, and other delights. Her Sicilian roots shine through with rustic Italian recipes reminiscent of her heritage.
“I like to cook from the season, which can be really hard in the winter,” she says. “I love to cook simple rustic cuisine, mostly Italian, but I definitely like to delve into other cultures.”
For the past six years, Fenn has been exploring new recipes, chatting with local chefs, and writing for her blog, local magazines, and newspapers. But she soon realized she needed something more.
“Writing about the food culture is really fun and experiencing it is so exciting, but something was missing,” she says. Fenn needed to help her community stay healthy.
Earlier this year, Fenn heard about a study that came out of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago about the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), which reduced the risk of cognitive decline in people who ate “brain-healthy” foods.
She was inspired by the study’s results and started looking for ways to help the growing percentage of the populace at risk for dementia.
Fenn reached out to friend and fellow doctor Martha Stearn at the St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health in Jackson. As fate would have it, Stearn was already working to create an eight-week course for people hoping to reduce their cognitive risks called “Brain Works,” which covers mindfulness, food choices, meditation, and more. Fenn collaborated with Stearn and now teaches cooking classes based on the MIND Diet.
“The study is evidence-based which, as a doctor, really excites me,” Fenn says. “Mostly, I am teaching how to eat and cook with whole foods and stay away from processed foods as well as buy organic as much as possible.”
She taught a Brain Works class in Chicago, and she will soon travel to Rancho La Puerta Spa in Tecate, Mexico, serving as guest chef for the cooking school, which boasts the oldest organic garden in North America. Her program there will focus on wellness and longevity.
“I am really excited about getting back in the business of helping people with their health,” she says. “If I can do it through teaching people how to cook and eat, then I think that is amazing.”