I had the unparalleled pleasure of sitting in a very small room with the legendary June Taylor (of the totally famous June Taylor Jams) and interviewing her as part of the 18 Reasons project of food stories with StoryCorps. I wish that I’d showered more recently. That interview booth is really small.
I’ve done loads of interviews in the past, but like radio, everything we’d chatted about was very much on the record and being recorded for posterity – it’s always a tricky thing for me to be entirely polite for 40 full minutes in a row. But, you know, as our talk was going to live on in the Library of Congress, I wanted to make it good.
She is a dear (and so insanely fashionable!) and I felt I could have talked to her for 40 hours. I love and deeply admire her work. Her jam tastes like the best fresh fruit ever, better suited for a spoon than a slice of toast. And her creative combinations (Summer Sweet Peach and Greek Bay Leaf; Fig, Port, and Lemon Thyme) are enviable. Additionally, she was jam before jam was cool – pure OG, as she’s been doing fruit for 23 years. But what I really dig about her is her academic geeking out on jam-making – the history, the lore, her background growing currants and vegetables with her father in a garden north of London. That velvety, Queenly accent doesn’t hurt, either.
Here are some new things I learned from June (who, shy gal, does not even have a bio on her own website. Nor was she even aware of this until I pointed this out to her): She formerly worked with Jeremiah Towers and at Olivetto. She had originally thought she was going to be a baker, but her early farmers market forays left her lugging home hot cross buns after noticing that her marmalade was flying off the table. She sells very well in Japan. She does not speak Japanese. She has a son, Kyle, in his twenties. Her mini empire is very much a family business, with her husband and son handling the website, business deals, etc. She’ll buy 600 pounds of a single fruit that catches her fancy based on a single taste – despite having 1200 pounds of other fruit to process. She loves and welcomes the new blood in the DIY artisan food movement. She briefly worked in fashion.
When I have it, I will post the interview here.