Jenny Levison worked her way around the world in many restaurant kitchens, learning by doing, although she never had any professional culinary training. She now has been in business in Atlanta as Souper Jenny for 10 years. Souper Jenny changes her menu daily according to what is fresh in the market, adding cold soups and more salad options during the spring and summer months. She likes to keep things fresh and spontaneous. “I still don’t plan the menu more than a day in advance!” she says.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I love seeing the look on a guest’s face when he or she is just about to sit down and enjoy a meal.
Your least favorite?
The early hours. I usually have to be in between 5:30 and 6 a.m., which is getting harder the older I get!
What do you see as the keys to being your “best self”?
The No. 1 key to being my best self is taking care of myself. I work hard, but I also schedule regular down time, massage time, yoga and whatever else I may need.
How did you come to this point in your career?
I have always loved to entertain and cook, and having a life in the theater wasn’t supporting my massage habit! I decided to combine them: work during the day and act at night.
Where do you perform?
You can see me as well as several other staff members this summer in a production of the musical Company at Stage Door Players in Dunwoody.
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone starting their own business?
Take a risk and don’t let the naysayers stand in your way. With the right attitude, anything is possible.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Good or bad, this restaurant will always be my responsibility.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I think writing my cookbook has been my greatest professional achievement. It took me a long time to actually write down a recipe!
What’s your No. 1 health and wellness secret?
What are the keys to your health regimen?
My key is everything in moderation. I am a real foodie and love to eat and drink. I’m always trying to enjoy anything—in moderation.
What did you do professionally before starting Souper Jenny, and how did you make the transition?
I was and I’m still an actor, but now I perform less regularly than I used to. It’s the perfect job since I can work during the day and perform at night!
What’s your favorite summertime activity/getaway?
I try to do a yoga retreat of some kind. I’m a yogi wannabe.
How many kids do you have?
I have one adorable 6-year-old, Jonah.
What book are you currently reading?
Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff, an Atlanta native and old college friend!
What made you choose soups as your food focus?
Soup is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s something every country in the world has in common. Before I opened 10 years ago, I took a good look around Atlanta to see what we were missing. Soups fit the niche perfectly!
What is your favorite cause and why?
I love the Atlanta Food Bank. There’s no reason anyone in Atlanta should go hungry.