Jackie Vitale is ever excited by the magic of food: as a source of joy, a community builder, a teaching tool, and a happy home for our microbial friends. She comes to Captiva from her hometown of Stuart, Florida, where she has spent the last five years growing an urban farm, restaurant, and community space, Ground Floor Farm. As the Chef in Residence, Jackie will oversee the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to providing fresh, regionally sourced food for the resident artists. She also will work to build relationships in the southwest Florida community.
Jackie, co-founder of the Florida Ferment Fest, an annual celebration of sunshine and microbes, fell in love with fermentation while working under renowned cheesemaker Bill Oglethorpe at Kappacasein Dairy in London, where she also moonlighted as a performance maker. With her artist collective, Spork, she created immersive performance and social experiences built around food and games. Her interest in the relationship between food and art was peaked while studying with Barcelona’s Teatro de los Sentidos. Jackie has a Master of Arts in Advanced Theater Practice from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
Launched in 2016, the Rauschenberg Residency’s Chef in Residence is selected annually through an application process that supports chefs’ participation in an active artist community, while also pursuing their own culinary interests, research and community-based projects that center around sustainability and food justice. The Chef in Residence is responsible for preparing meals for the artists in residence, maintaining the Residency’s zero waste goal, and integrating produce both grown onsite from its vegetable and herb garden and from locally sourced purveyors with the same core values.
“Jackie’s application hit the mark in every aspect of what we were seeking in our next chef,” said Ann Brady, residency director. “Jackie is passionate about providing fresh, healthy and sustainably-produced food, supporting local producers, and working with environmental and human rights organizations. She is active in her community through cooking classes, committee work, and organizing events. Her keen interest in getting involved in the southwest Florida community along with her theater background and her experience as a restaurant chef, bread and cheese maker, made her the outstanding candidate for this position. We couldn’t be more excited.”
Located on Captiva Island, the Rauschenberg Residency is a creative center that welcomes artists of all disciplines from around the world to live, work, and create. Each year over 70 artists and creative thinkers from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds, ages, and career levels are selected to advance their work in this highly collaborative, interdisciplinary environment. The property spans 20 acres and includes nine buildings, a 3,600-square-foot vegetable garden, and 12 beehives.