22 Quick and Easy Recipes in 30 Minutes (or less) + 5 Chef Secrets To Make You A Better Cook!


Photo by Helen Don

WelcomeI’m Jenn Segal

Once upon a time, I was a chef – tall hat, white coat, checked pants, the works!  I left the restaurant business in 2003 when my first child was born. Now, I’m cooking for my family and sharing all my tested and perfected recipes with you here. The recipes on this site reflect my life — as a mom, I need easy meals the whole family will enjoy but the chef in me needs to eat too!

1996, Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post

What You’ll Find Here

  • Tested and perfected recipes that work for you the very first time
  • Step-by-step photos
  • Ingredient recommendations that take the guesswork out of grocery shopping
  • Menus for holidays, entertaining and everyday family meals



Do you have professional training?

Yes, I’m a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine. I also worked in the restaurant business, both front and back of the house, for many years before starting a family.

Do you have cookbooks?

Yes! You can read more about them on my cookbook page.

Who takes your photographs?

I take my own photographs for the blog using a Nikon Z6. (Some photographs on the blog are from my cookbooks, which professional photographers shot.)

Where do you get your recipes?

I develop most of my own recipes. Occasionally, I’ll adapt a recipe from another source or share favorites from my cookbook collection (sources are always cited within the recipe post and on the printed recipe). Every recipe on this site has been tested multiple times and perfected by me in my home kitchen.

How can I subscribe to Once Upon a Chef?

Easy! Submit your email in the subscription box below.

How can I contact you?

If you have a specific question about a recipe, it is best to leave it in the comment section of the recipe. If you have a general question, please use the contact form at the bottom of every page. I do my best to respond to all questions and emails within a day or two.

Do you teach cooking classes?

Sorry, at present I do not.

Can I republish your recipes on my blog?

Sure, please just provide attribution and link to the original recipe.

Once upon a chef cookbook

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Still Curious? Me in a Nutshell

  • I’ve lived most of my life in the Washington, DC, area.
  • I’m a textbook introvert: family, a few close friends, a good book, and I’m happy.
  • I met my husband, Michael, on a blind date. We’ve been married for 22 years.
  • I have a 20-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter.
  • I became interested in cooking in college while studying abroad in France and living with a French family. (My mother hates to cook!)
  • I spent one summer working as an Au Pair in Paris for a family with three little boys and a puppy. It’s the only job I was ever fired from.
  • Culinary school was the most fun I ever had.
  • During my first week working in a restaurant kitchen, I cried every night and wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into.
  • In 2009, I decided I wanted to write a cookbook. A book agent told me I had zero chance of getting published as an unknown, so I started this blog instead. My first cookbook was published in 2018. My second cookbook was released in 2021.
  • At 49 years old, I still talk to my mother daily and run everything by her. (I know she loves it when I call her at 11:00 at night!) Thanks, Mom.
  • For 15 years, we had a lovably crazy yellow lab named Miles. Now we have two sweet chocolate labs, Ollie and Gus — we live for them!
  • When my kids were babies, I started a cake business. I have great cake and cupcake recipes.

Photo by Johnny Miller