By: Courtney Dabney
Hopefully by now, you Fort Worth, Texas magazine readers are thumbing through the pages of our February issue learning about all the new openings around town and immersing yourself in our cover story about seven different female chefs in the area. That is, if you made it passed the cover. If you didn’t, I understand.
This cover is a personal favorite of mine so far. It allowed me the opportunity to work with illustrator Gretchen Roehrs, 26, whose Instagram account I follow and snoop through regularly. The way she blends common day food products with sketches to create uncommon illustrations never ceases to amaze me. When she agreed to sketch the seven chefs, I was nothing less than giddy.
Also, it was really easy (for me). I sent Gretchen each chef’s culinary style and signature dish and she went to work creating the masterpiece that is now the cover. Believe it or not, the San Francisco resident and Stephens College design school graduate only draws as a hobby. We know you’re all wondering about the woman behind the work, so we chatted with the creative genius to learn a little more and get a glimpse into her delicious process.
I can’t believe this talent of yours is a side job. Tell us about your full-time gig.
My focus right now is in Experience Design for tech companies in Silicon Valley— which basically means I take the functionality of an app or website and make it something easy, intuitive, and hopefully beautiful for everyday people to use.
What's your favorite illustration so far?
The banana jumpsuit is truly my favorite. I think it’s from my love of yellow!
How did you start illustrating food?
It’s widely known at work and home that I can be found either drawing or eating at any point, so the two were bound to intersect at some point. It all started over a lunch of a few baskets of farmer’s market tomatoes and berries and my trusty ink pen.
How do you describe what it is that you do?
It still feels funny to describe it in any sort of serious manner—when pressed, I’ll call it a fashion and food illustration.
What is your process like?
The process is fairly ad-hoc. I’ll usually place a piece of whatever I’m eating on a notebook and create a figure around it.
What materials do you use?
The food from my favorite market and my Pentel ink pen, plus whatever notebook or pad of paper is hanging around.
You live in San Francisco, a major foodie town. Does San Fran influence your work?
San Francisco has had a huge impact on my relationship with vegetables. Missouri (my hometown) isn’t really known for its delicious produce, despite being a huge agricultural powerhouse. California is truly the land of milk and honey—the tomatoes are better than candy out here, which makes me want to showcase their beauty in my work.
What is your favorite San Francisco restaurant?
Tartine, bar none. It’s worth waiting in the line that stretches around the block.
What are some of your proudest career moments so far?
This interview, of course! It’s been completely humbling to have people find joy in my drawings.
Our February cover story is about local female chefs and how women can often encounter a more difficult road when trying to become a restaurant owner or executive chef. Have you experienced any similar roadblocks?
There’s never been a better time to be a woman, and I have had the encouragement and mentoring of incredible women all my life. The privilege I’ve experienced is a huge motivator for me to help more women pursue their dreams either by hiring them myself or connecting them to others who can help them reach their goal. I’m inspired by women who don’t take no for an answer and keep pushing for their dreams despite all the set backs designed to keep women out of leadership roles, and can’t wait for the day when everyone’s gender and ethnicity and sexuality is considered valuable.
Can't get enough? Follow Gretchen's Instagram account, @groehrs, for more.
By: Courtney Dabney