In this ongoing series, we reach out to CHS alumni to learn what they are doing now that they have the advantage of experience, education and self-reflection. This month’s pick is Jada Veljkov, Class of 2011. Jada is passionate about farm-to-table and sustainability, likely rooted in her upbringing outside the Burwell community near Bowdon.
EDUCATIONAL PURSUITS: “Following high school, I earned a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Georgia,” says Jada, who also worked at a number of restaurants in downtown Athens where she discovered a passion for the farm-to-table movement.
EMPLOYMENT: Now the executive chef at the Greyfield Inn, the only commercial venture on Cumberland Island, Jada previously served as the head chef of Hugh Acheson’s prestigious Five & Ten in Athens, solidifying her reputation in culinary circles. A website post welcoming Jada to the Greyfield Inn family says: “Jada brings a minimalistic approach to the table – showcasing fresh vegetables from the Greyfield Garden while allowing sustainable and thoughtfully procured meats, seafoods, spices, and aromatics to complement the seasonal flavors, keeping her dishes rooted in a Southern style. We are thrilled to have Jada leading the Greyfield culinary program.”
PERSONAL: Says Jada: “I am the youngest of three who all attended Carrollton City Schools. We lived a little outside of Carrollton on Lake Tisinger. Growing up, we almost always had a garden which helped me learn early on where food came from.” Her mother says Jada has been cooking since she was 3 years old.
HOBBIES: “I enjoy being outdoors especially hiking, swimming, or cycling. I also enjoy creative outlets such as painting and do-it-yourself projects,” says Jada.
ASPIRATIONS: Whenever Jada decides to leave her magical adventure living and working on Cumberland Island, food will still be in her future. “I aspire to open a small business focusing on farm-to-table dining & community outreach,” she says.
PROUD PARENT MOMENT: Jada’s parents, Skip and Jamie Veljkov, travel to Cumberland Island on occasion to visit their daughter and because of that connection, have the opportunity to stay at the exclusive inn and enjoy Jada’s talents first hand as dining guests. “When others find out we are her parents, it’s almost like we’ve become celebrities,” says her mom, Jamie. “People from all parts of the country rave about her culinary skills and creative approach to food. We beam with pride.”
INSTAGRAM EYE-POPPER: Cumberland Island is known for its wild horses, but feral hogs are also abundant. Jada recently posted photos showcasing cuts of meat from a hog she butchered in February. A hunter gave it to her following a scheduled hunt to control the population.