For years I’d heard of Jessica Foster — if you live in Santa Barbara and love chocolates, how could you not? Jessica creates gourmet chocolate truffles for any occasion, selling them through such retailers as Lazy Acres and Whole Foods but also offering special orders through her website and even a chocolate club.
At a recent fundraiser, my partner, Dan, beamed at the fact that each table setting featured a box of Jessica Foster’s decadent truffles, including his favorite: Classic Dark Chocolate. But I beamed that my assigned seat was next to Ms. Foster herself, for she is positive, enthusiastic, and fun in person. Most of all, she simply loves running her own sweet business, which she created 13 years ago after working for a number of restaurants around town, including bouchon.
A common friend, jeweler Corinna Gordon, excitedly told me that I needed to meet Jessica for I would appreciate her unparalleled sense of humor and her awesome taste buds. “Her truffles are the best thing since Godiva!” said Corinna. I can’t help but agree.
Santa Barbara’s own Willy Wonka answers the Proust Questionnaire.
What do you like most about your job?
It allows me to be creative! I have always loved science and my business is like my little confectionary lab. I also love that I get to collaborate with so many amazing, creative people. I love to work with the wineries to do pairings. It makes for the best business meetings! I also love that my business challenges me constantly.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
In the short-term it would be camping at Jalama with my husband, our dog,and amazing food and wine. I guess more of a serious, long-term answer would just be living a fulfilling and meaningful life; a life full of friends, family, and love; a life of doing good while having fun, experiencing new things, and traveling.
What is your greatest fear?
Public speaking! I know it’s ridiculous, but totally true.
Who do you most admire?
Definitely my parents. My mom has always been my role model. She is so lovely: hyper-intelligent, kind, non-judgmental, and the most compassionate human I’ve ever known. Crazy fact: she was a nun! But I was never baptized; she just wanted my sister and me to work out our own path. I’ve always had great appreciation and respect for that. Sadly, she now suffers from Alzheimer’s and is merely a shadow of former self. My father is her full-time caregiver and has evolved and sacrificed immensely to fill his new role. His devotion and commitment are inspiring.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Fine wine and food — life is too short for swill! — and travel! Also, little things like pedis, facials, etc.
What is your current state of mind?
Right now I’m feeling love and support in my life. I feel like I’m getting things done and manifesting change! You caught me at a motivated time. Next week could be different.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Sense of humor, compassion, kindness, tolerance, appetite for self-betterment, as well as learning new things!
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
I try to be open to all sorts of people but I have a really hard time with arrogance, intolerance, and divisiveness. Laziness bugs me too.
What do you most value in friends?
Loyalty, sense of humor, supportiveness, weirdness, and diversity.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I get along well with and really like all sorts of people. I guess I’m diplomatic, and I’m definitely a bit weird and goofy.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Many are not appropriate here. I also have a tendency to use a lot of childish, ‘80s terms like rad, awesome, and totally. Then there is the ever so apropos ‘80s term for me: Truffle Shuffle.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I always thought it would be amazing to have a great singing voice. However, more practically, public speaking and sales.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be better at time management and more organized overall. It wouldn’t hurt to be a little bit less averse to risk.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think being the person that I am and having the life that I do (with amazing family, friends, support system, etc.) is huge. In addition, running a successful business for over 13 years qualifies.
Where would you most like to live?
Santa Barbara is pretty awesome. Even after traveling to amazing places, it feels good to come home. Although I wouldn’t mind keeping this my home base and doing some stints in far-off lands!
What is your most treasured possession?
The love in my life, including my husband, John, dog, Rook, sister, Julia, parents Tom and Bette, and my closest friends.
Who makes you laugh the most?
My husband is hysterical. We make each other laugh a lot. My sister and I pretty much laugh the entire time we’re together. My four- and two-year-old nephew and niece crack me up too. Kids are so entertaining! They’ve been calling me Uncle Jessica, although sadly they’re starting to grow out of it.
What is your motto?
I’m not sure I have one, officially. These come to mind: ‘Know thyself’, ‘with adversity comes opportunity’, ‘nature is the best medicine,’ and ‘Goonies never die.’
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
This is a super tough one. For varying reasons: John Muir, Marie Curie, Gandhi, and Malala.
On what occasion do you lie?
I certainly believe that as a general rule, honesty is best. However, to keep it real, I have certainly bent the truth from time to time at a restaurant with they ask how everything is.