This month marks our sixth annual fascinating moms feature, in which we profile five inspiring mothers with vastly different stories who all share a common bond. From business owners to free spirits with one baby or three, they are each on a journey that’s uniquely their own— and yet they’re relatable in so many ways. Our hope is that you find these mamas as smart, refreshing and admirable as we do, and our wish is that you know you are every bit as fascinating as they are.
Chef and restauranteur
Home: New York City and Miami
Favorite foods: Spicy curries, noodle soups and stir-fries
Most-played artist on her iPhone: Chet Faker
Words of wisdom: Believe and accept that to try your very best in something is enough, even if you fail.
When your job requires you to spend a significant portion of your day in the kitchen, it doesn’t take long to realize you’re pregnant. At least that was the case for Janine Booth, co-owner and chef de cuisine of Root & Bone in New York City and Sarsaparilla Club in Miami, who realized at about five weeks along that something was up.
“I was nauseous and exhausted … and there were a lot of foods in the kitchen that used to smell and taste amazing that all of a sudden made me feel sick,” she recalls. “Seafood, fish sauce and anything very strong in flavor made me very nauseous, which was frustrating as I was in the midst of testing new recipes for our seafood concept.” (Stiltsville Fish Bar, the third restaurant Booth will have launched in as many years, is scheduled to open soon in Miami.)
Her typically healthy diet—she’s big on green smoothies—was temporarily replaced with large quantities of pizza. “Sometimes I would end up eating it for lunch and dinner five days a week,” confesses the former “Top Chef” contestant. But don’t think the gourmand was tossing a frozen Tombstone in the oven. “My favorite pizza was packed with kale, fancy mushrooms and red pepper flakes.”
Fortunately for Booth, her partner—in business and in life— Jeffrey Lee McInnis, was able to step in and help out when their baby on the way made it difficult to keep up. “Owning our own restaurants meant that I had flexibility with my hours and an amazing partner who picked up a lot of my slack when I was too sick or big to work on my feet,” shares Booth.
For an Australian native raised by Irish parents to be serving up Southern comfort food at a New York restaurant seems an unlikely story to most, but not so much to Booth. She’s always loved to travel and eat, so when she realized while on a scholarship at the University of Miami that public relations wasn’t for her, transferring to Le Cordon Bleu to study culinary arts seemed like a logical alternative. From there, she met McInnis, whose guidance she worked under for a few years before they moved to New York to open Root & Bone.
Of course, there are challenges that come with living and working with your partner—and adding a newborn to the mix earlier this year created even more, admits Booth. “The hardest thing for us is that we are so busy that there are just not enough hours in the day—especially hours spent sleeping!”
But the triumphs far outweigh the trials. “I have always wanted children, but I honestly never knew how big my love could be for one person,” Booth says. “Sunny is just the happiest, most loving baby, and she brings so much joy to our family.” Booth’s day typically starts around 8 a.m. when her daughter wakes up. (The star sleeper has been snoozing through the night since she was a month old.) It begins with a feeding for baby, a coffee for mom and a walk for the dog. Sunny keeps her mama company in the office for a few hours before they head out in the afternoon for some fresh air or meetings. For dinner, Booth tests potential recipes for the restaurants (often pairing them with a well-deserved glass of wine).
As she prepares to look for a nanny so she can return to work full-time, the new mom is pleased with the life she’s created. “I get to be creative every day; I have found an amazing and supportive partner … and most of all, we have a beautiful and healthy baby girl who continues to inspire us with her happiness,” she says. And really, what more could a mama want?