2020 40 Under 40 award recipient: Jennifer Fillenworth

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Jennifer Fillenworth Courtesy 616 Media

Jennifer Fillenworth, 30

Executive chef/registered dietitian/adjunct instructor
Jenny with the Good Eats/Root Functional Medicine/GRCC

A major car accident convinced Jennifer Fillenworth not to hold back in owning her identity.

During the past six years, Fillenworth has gone through three main career phases — as a clinical dietitian, entrepreneur and culinary medicine chef — and she said she used to struggle with imposter syndrome. But in November 2019, she was in a serious car accident that changed everything.

“My mom was my caretaker for months, I celebrated my 30th birthday in a wheelchair, and I lost out on an opportunity with Food Network,” she said. “I felt like I was at rock bottom.”

Instead of giving up, Fillenworth used the time to research and plan her next steps. By January, Fillenworth started to walk again and was able to move back into her house. When the pandemic hit, she and Dr. Erica Armstrong decided to push through and open their holistic meal service, Root Farmacy. They soon will open a commercial kitchen and café in the former Marie Catrib’s.

In addition to her work with Root Farmacy, Fillenworth maintains her personal chef and dietitian business, Jenny with the Good Eats, and also is an adjunct professor at GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. She is vice president of the American Culinary Federation of Greater Grand Rapids, culinary planning committee member for March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction and volunteers for several food-related charity events.

Fillenworth said her trauma last year taught her perseverance.

“Without a doubt, the class of 2020 needs the woman who breaks all the bones, turns the negative into a positive and is the proud wearer of all the hats,” she said.

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