I sat with my friend Jessica Kent, co-owner of Jerome's Carmel Valley Market. She and Jerome purchased the market in March 2016. Prior to purchasing the market, Jerome was the head chef at the venerable Wills Fargo in Carmel Valley Village for over 13 years. The time he spent at Wills gave Jerome a fantastic opportunity to meet the people in the community as well as foster an ever growing appreciation of this charming community. Jerome also met Jessica at a Village favorite, The Running Iron. More about that later.
Jerome and Jessica purchased the market so they could spend more time with their growing children. Once the kids were school age, Jerome realized he was missing out on his Kids lives. Being a chef, home for dinner was not an option, so they started exploring opportunities that would allow the family to have dinner together every night. During this process, they discovered that the market might be available to purchase. At first blush they thought the idea silly. As they thought further, they realized there were many similarities between running a restaurant and a food market. They both involve indulging people's food needs. They also realized they could do event catering out of the market. Lastly, the market closes at 7, so home for dinner!
Jessica and Jerome were both born in France, she in Paris and he in the Brittany region of France. Interestingly they both moved to the Peninsula about the same time. When they met in the village, Jerome was the executive chef at Stone Pine, Estate Resort in Carmel Valley Village and Jessica a local Horse trainer. For a period, if your name was Jessica and you wanted to marry a chef, head to the Running Iron. More than one Jessica met and married a local chef there.
The market has slowly evolved into the kind of place where regulars are welcomed by name. if they don't have your favorite product on the shelf, they will happily order it for you. Jerome's chef background is evident as well. In addition to the staples, you will find unusual, eclectic items like Caviar and Duck Liver Pate.
They now have croissants and coffee in the morning, hot lunches, salad bar and custom made sandwiches for lunch. They have also started Paella Fridays, and prepared dinners coming soon.
Their first big catering event was the McCall's Motorsports Revival with attendance just under 3,000. BIG TEST! I happened to be at the McCall event, they hit it out of the park. Their food was so popular, the servers couldn't get the food to the serving tables. People were literally following the servers from the kitchen, grabbing the food off their trays. They are proudly returning for the 2017 event.
Through it all, Jessica said the most touching part of the process is how welcoming and supportive the community has been. That's the Valley way.
Love of family and community, oh and food.
Whether your a Peninsula local or aspire to be one, you owe it to yourself to head to the Village and check out Jerome's CV market. When I visited, I picked up some fresh wild caught Salmon and ripe Mango. Yummy pan seared Salmon with Mango Salsa.