Jenni Ridall's two-part business model is helping local chefs and brands | Provided

Jenni Ridall is using years of food and beverage experience and guidance from a celebrated cookbook author to help restaurants, small businesses and homecooks through {TK} Culinary Consulting + Test Kitchen, a company that helps folks engineer recipes, style food, manage food costs, write restaurant opening manuals and more.

“There’s two halves of my business — one, is restaurant consulting, and then the other half is editorial content,” said Ridall. “They work in tandem together.”  

For restaurants, {TK} helps fill in the gaps by providing guidance for streamlining operations, helping with tedious tasks like creating health department compliance plans and developing staff training manuals. And with her “Test Kitchen,” Ridall helps cookware companies, publications and ambitious homecooks looking to take it to the next level with recipe development, content creation and food styling.  

{TK} Culinary Consulting + Test Kitchen designed the cover for a 2020 issue of The Local Palate | Provided

The company’s name is a nod to “TK,” the notation used by publishers like us as a placeholder for information. Writers fill in the blanks before submitting a piece, and Ridall hopes to do the same for culinary professionals. 

“My husband is a restaurant owner, and I learned through being with him, there’s so many hats you have to wear when you’re an owner chef,” said Ridall, who’s married to FIG and The Ordinary chef/partner Mike Lata. “I started to kind of see these voids.”

Take, for example, a chef who’s cooked ratatouille the same way for the last 10 years. He or she knows the recipe so well that it’s almost second nature — but what happens when that chef leaves the restaurant or can’t come into work one day? That’s where Ridall comes in. 

By asking chefs questions about why they’re taking certain steps or adding specific ingredients, “I help them make their recipes more solid,” she said. 

Ridall brings years of experience to every project. After working at restaurants during her undergraduate years at the University of Virginia, Ridall enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta. 

Ridall partners with national and local brands like Smithey Ironware Company | Provided

“I learned all about the editorial side of restaurants, and I started working with a cookbook author,” said Ridall, recalling her time with Virginia Willis, the award winning author of books like Bon Appetit, Y’all and Secrets of the Southern Table. “She really taught me all about how to test recipes.” 

Ridall’s work with Willis combined with her front- and back-of-house restaurant experience has given her the prowess to work with restaurants like goat.sheep.cow. and companies like Le Creuset and North Charleston-based Smithey Ironware Company. Moving forward, she hopes to be even more involved in consulting the editorial side of the food and beverage industry. 

“I love the fact that the business has two personalities. I’d love to help more local restaurant owners with either recipe books or if they’re interested in doing things to take them to that next level,” Ridall said. “I love the connection to real world hospitality, but I also love the opportunity to write recipes for homecooks.” 

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.