Florence is home to many expats: those who have longed to live here, those who have found love and moved here, and those who have come to Florence and felt immediately at home here. Many people arrive here at a point in their lives when they seek to redefine themselves: whether they were not completely happy, were searching for something new, or were looking for love, it seems that those who come to Florence are reborn. Florence will always be the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ for the art world, but it also welcomes people of all walks of life who are seeking to follow their hearts.
Before jumping into a career in the food business, equipped with a degree in hotel and restaurant management from New York University, Jennifer Schwartz decided to move to Italy for a few months. She initially arrived in Milan and within three days had landed a job teaching English, found an apartment, and met an Australian woman who would play a pivotal role in her coming to Florence.
For the next year, Jennifer took the train down to Florence every weekend to accompany her friend, who was visiting her Florentine boyfriend. When her friend decided to move to Florence permanently, she offered Jennifer a room to rent and presented her to a school director who was looking for an English teacher. Without delay, Jennifer packed her bags and moved to Florence. However, right before her new job was to begin, the director told her that the position was no longer available.
To stay in Florence, Jennifer needed to quickly find a job. She knocked on every door: restaurants, bars, and catering businesses. She searched for work that would help her get into the food industry that she loves. After being introduced to an American food writer who needed an assistant, Jennifer began working for her, helping to organize her office and taking care of the business side of the writer’s life. With her adept organizational skills, she shortly became the writer’s ‘right-hand.’
Still determined to work directly in the food industry, Jennifer started a catering company that organized interactive dinners with a professional chef, market tours, cooking lessons, and do-it-yourself dinners in villas around Tuscany. One day, the clients of a close acquaintance of hers requested a more in-depth gastronomical tour of Florence and from that was born Jennifer’s Food Lover’s Tours. She took visitors around to the mercato and other places in Florence where she introduced people to the finest Tuscan wines and delicacies so that they could ‘see Florence through a Florentine’s eyes.’
After juggling her two demanding, yet rewarding, jobs, in 2008, Jennifer decided to fly solo and created pom613 (http://www.pom613.com), a nonprofit gastronomic association whose main focus is professional chef internships in collaboration with her American company, The Tuscan Turtle. The goal of pom613 is to create gastronomic tours in Italy, not just Tuscany, and gradually incorporate other countries in Europe, South America, and Asia.
Jennifer has an extensive knowledge of Italian wines and is currently learning about French wines, region by region. She is also a licensed truffle hunter and is planning on becoming a certified balsamic vinegar taster in the near future.
Even though Jennifer travels extensively for her job, she considers Florence her home. When she looks out at Florence from an airplane window, she feels a sense of peace come over her and lets out a big sigh. Only home can make you feel this good.