Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Jam Cakes and Fudge – Food Tasting by “Simply Kentucky” at Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
On Saturday, October 11, Simply Kentucky will offer a food tasting of jam cakes and fudge from 11:00 – 2:00 at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. Company founder Mary Jane Rittenberry will be present to talk about her products and meet visitors.
Originally from Georgia and raised in Tennessee, Mary Jane Rittenberry came to Kentucky over 40 years ago. She learned how to cook and bake from her grandmother whom she visited every weekend as a young girl. Mary Jane states, “My grandmother was a fabulous cook who loved spending time in the kitchen cooking for her 10 kids. She won countless blue ribbons at the TN State Fair with her baked goods and taught me much of what I know about baking.”
While Mary Jane worked in the business office at Krogers, she baked jam cakes for her friends and for special occasions at the store. Her manager, Boye Burton encouraged her to go into the business of selling jam cakes – and offered to give them a test run with Kroger stores. She began her business Simply Kentucky by making jam cakes – a traditional cake that many people remember from their childhood. Mary Jane started out selling to Kroger stores in the early 1980’s and eventually was selling at 66 stores throughout the region.
Mary Jane also credits her business success to Sharon Thompson, food critic for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Thompson interviewed Mary Jane in 1988 and did a large story for the paper on her business Simply Kentucky located on North Limestone in Lexington. From then on, the business grew and Mary Jane added fudge, bourbon balls and other confectionary items that were hard to find commercially. In 2006, she moved her business into a renovated 2 car garage next to her house where she bakes jam cakes and creates candy and other confectionary items with assistance from her sister and family members.
Products made by Simply Kentucky can be found at Kentucky State Parks, Paul’s Markets, Kroger stores, and at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 975 Walnut Meadow Road, just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café from 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from 100 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the Center’s web site at : www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Kentucky Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet.