Downtown London - News

December 2018

  • Jill’s Table keeps up the culinary conversation

    December 11, 2018

    Jill’s Table keeps up the culinary conversation

     

    By Sean Meyer

     

    For nearly two decades, Jill Wilcox has been offering the latest specialty foods and housewares from around the world to not only foodies who share her culinary passions, but anyone looking for help in the kitchen.

     

    In 1999, Jill’s Table opened in a small space at Covent Garden Market. Two years later, Jill moved the store across the street to its current home at 115 King St. The shift into a much larger space certainly allowed her to expand her wide selection of specialty foods and housewares, but it offered her opportunities too.

     

    “I really wanted to share these wonderful products with people, to pull them together in one place . . . and share the knowledge I have learned over the years,” she said. “We’ve curated our products, we’ve sourced out the best of the best, we’ve trained our team so they can share that information with our customers. We want to be the destination for the food lover. Anything to do with food and cooking, we’re the place to come.”

     

    While the store has always been about food and cooking — not to mention tips on everything from food preparation to entertaining, cooking classes and eventually, culinary tours — the retail business has certainly changed.

     

    Perhaps the biggest change she has seen over the years is the same one every other retailer has needed to figure out — the internet. Jill said the internet has given people access to “lots of good things,” offering greater reach in terms of access to information about food, recipes, whatever is going on in the food world. 

     

    The digital age has also changed the way people do business, especially when it comes to the use of social media. 

     

    Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Jill explains, have been particularly important for her to embrace. 

     

    However, she remains committed to the value of real world connections too.

     

    “We really value that face-to-face interaction with our customers. That’s why we intentionally haven’t gone to putting all our products online,” she said. “We have somewhat of an online presence, maybe not as much as some other businesses. Where we excel is we provide the customer with a great experience . . . through the engagement they have with us, with the store, when they come in looking for products, recipes, information, anything they need.” 

     

    The world of food is always changing, which gives Jill plenty of inspiration to keep building a business that will celebrate its 20thanniversary next year. It also helps, Jill adds, that she has surrounded herself with a team of nine people she said share her culinary passions.

     

    Perhaps most importantly, Jill also credits her customers — many of whom have been coming into the store since their own parents first brought them in — with keeping her interested, engaged and excited for work every day.

     

    But while she continues to work many hours, particularly through the holidays, she had tried to cut back her workload in recent years. It is, she adds, very important she keeps herself “well and rested” so as to keep up her everyday pace.

     

    That said, even when she isn’t working, Jill is often found in the kitchen, which is hardly surprising given cooking for family and friends remains her favourite thing to do.

     

    “That’s what keeps me going; I love doing that. I enjoy reading and gardening when I can get to it. I find cooking to be relaxing. I really enjoy it,” she said. “Being in the kitchen is creative, it’s very cathartic, and the rewards at the end of it are really lovely.”

     

    For more information, visit https://jillstable.ca.

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