Ask the Experts: Jenn Fujikawa, justJENN Designs & Recipes

by Jessica on April 11, 2013

JJ_leia_cupcake
Since around the new year, it’s become all
Star Wars, all the time around here. As long as the boys only watch Episodes IV, V and VI, my husband could not be happier. And now I can WAY better appreciate the multi-talented Jenn Fujikawa, she of the justJenn blogsbrilliant edible creations, and clever custom products.

Only if I want to feel forever inadequate will I ever compare my uncrafty self to this L.A. architect and mom of two. I better start preparing NOW if I have any chance of making a Star Wars themed party that’s maybe one tenth as amazing as the one she’s known for. But Jenn’s creativity isn’t limited to the Lucas universe; she’s got mad skills to honor her love for Buffy, Hello Kitty, Doctor Who, and many other comic and geek culture outlets. She also shares her weekly menu planning prowess.

And it turns out the friend who’s been instrumental in our kids’ Star Wars initiation process by generously giving us hand-me-down Star Wars books and lending his beloved limited edition DVDs (the ones with the NON-digitally altered original releases) is a mutual pal of Jenn’s, too. Small (geek) world.

Where are you from?

I’m one of the few natives of Los Angeles. I was born here and I don’t see myself ever leaving because I love this town too much.

How many kids do you have, and how old are they?

I have two boys, they are 9 and 7.

What was the first franchise they really got into?

The first franchise the kids took to was Star Wars. I was so excited because it let me release my inner fan girl since I love it so much. That’s why I came up with the Ultimate Star Wars Party, because it was just as much for me as it was for them! Since then they’ve moved on to Iron Man, Power Rangers and Doctor Who and also basically LEGO everything. My kids’ enthusiasm inspires me to create my recipes!

Do you and your kids have the same taste?

We do have the same taste. Growing up I always wished I could play with my brother’s action figures and Transformers, but it didn’t seem very ‘girl like’. I did end up using some of his Star Wars figures in the dollhouses that I built, which is probably why I grew up to be a theme park architect. I go to a few comic cons throughout the year and it’s nice that all the things my boys like, Star Wars, comics, LEGO are things that I have a vast knowledge of and enjoy too.

So, Star Wars. Although I’m not the curator of such matters in our household, our kids are not yet allowed to watch Episodes 1-3. They only know they exist because of schoolyard chatter and as of last week, Legoland. What’s your policy about this divisive issue?

I am atypical in that I showed my boys all six of the Star Wars movies. They started off with the originals but I let them watch them all and make their own decisions. For better or worse, the kids ended up liking eps 1 and 3 the best. I can’t say we agree but they have a different view of it all than I do and they see the total arc. My 7 year old also has a weird attachment to Anakin turning to the Dark Side and thinks it’s the best thing ever. I am always texting my friend who’s a doctor of psychology to make sure I’m not the worst parent ever because of this.

What are your favorite family restaurants?

I once heard an interview with Anthony Bourdain who said that fast food in other countries is a quick stop for a bowl of noodles or local street food. I totally agree and subscribing to that idea here in L.A. is very easy. I don’t allow my kids to eat fast food so some of our favorite places are just really good local eats that are for everyone. We go to Daikokuya in Little Tokyo a lot and is a great place if you can stand the wait with kids. Our family is from Hawaii so we love local food. King’s Hawaiian in Torrance has wonderful breakfasts that the kids eat up and you have to tear me away from the bakery counter. Eatalian in west Compton has AMAZING Italian food that the kids love and the gelato bar is a plus too. I love Korean food and KBBQ always can feed a whole family easily. There are too many great Korean places in LA, I’d have to make you a list on the side. ;)

What local markets and crafty resources do you recommend for gathering supplies for a big production, such as your Star Wars party?

I throw a lot of parties and as far as cooking supplies, Surfas in Culver City is a regular stop for me. I shop at Farmers’ Markets every week, the Hollywood FM is my favorite but I also go to SaMo, Beverly Hills and Torrance farmer’s markets.

My friends and I have Geek Girl Craft Days where we do a lot of Star Wars and comics related crafts and Michaels is my favorite place to shop for supplies when we have those parties.

Do your kids help you develop your recipes?

My kids definitely help me develop my recipes, sometimes to a fault. Now they are little food critics! But my 9 year old is getting into the action and developing his own recipes now which is nice to see and gives me a break now and then!

What are your favorite baking books? 

My favorite cookbooks are old black and white Hawaiian church cookbooks. They have the craziest recipes and I enjoy revisiting them and creating modern versions of the recipes. I just released a Mochi cookbook and it was my homage to that style of homemade cookbook.

My Melody or Little Twin Stars? And why isn’t Tuxedo Sam more popular? Although I’m happy to see he’s having a bit of a comeback, right?

My Melody or Little Twin Stars is like Sophie’s Choice to me. I’ll say…My Melody because I was just asked by Sanrio to develop a recipe for Almond Pound Cake for My Melody on National Pound Cake Day.  But the real answer is LTS. I adore them and I still have vintage Sanrio products with them on it from back in 1977. I love Tuxedo Sam too, but Hello Kitty will always be number one.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

jami April 11, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Jenn is a rockstar. So glad you featured her!

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