Executive Chef and Owner
Jake grew up in the small Colorado town of Lyons. It didn’t take long for his cooking ambitions to lead him to bigger opportunities, working in Denver, Boulder, Santa Barbara, and Seattle. He credits his hands on experience working at prestigious restaurants like Michel Richard’s Citronelle, Jan Birnbaum’s Sazerac, and Tamara Murphy’s Brasa as laying the groundwork for the chef he has become. In 2006 Jake decide to follow his heart, leaving behind Seattle and the fast paced restaurant world, to support his wife's quest to make wine.
What at first seemed like career sacrifice, eventually turned into amazing good fortune, as the food and wine community welcomed his talents. In 2010 Jake tackled the task of re-invigorating a classic Walla Walla eatery, opening Olive Marketplace and Café in the heart of downtown. Having also spent more than fifteen years organizing and running various kitchens and catering operations (ranging from large scale, multi-course plated events to weddings of all sizes) Jake wanted a chance to bring his expertise to the growing demand for caterers in Walla Walla. So, always up for a challenge, Jake added a full catering company to Olive’s culinary resume in 2012. Never one to rest, in 2016 Jake finally found the perfect space to open a new restaurant that truly defines his style of cooking. Opening Ox & Cart is Jake’s opportunity to pay homage to the area that inspires him. Living in Walla Walla, surrounded by fresh produce, local wine, and naturally raised meats is a culinary dream comes true, and to Jake, it is what truly defines who he is as a chef. It’s this rare ability to nourish his family and his community with foods that are whole, pure, and full of flavor that makes Jake proud to call this Valley his home.
Beverage Director and Owner
Answering the age old question, what do you do with a degree in Philosophy; Tabitha assures you that it makes an excellent prelude into the world of food and wine. During her studies at the University of Washington, she made ends meet by working at various Seattle restaurants, and after the BA degree was said and done, the foodie bug had settled in to stay.
She worked with amazing talents at Ray’s Boathouse, Teatro Zinzanni, Chow Foods, Inc., and Tamara Murphy’s Brasa. Leaving the city life behind, her then fiancé Chef Jake Crenshaw surprised her with a life altering move to Walla Walla so that she could follow her dream of making wine.
She quickly completed her Enology degree in the celebrated vocational program at WWCC and spent time working at Spring Valley Vineyards and Artifex Wine Company. Ten years, two restaurant, a catering company and three beautiful children later, they are making a happy marriage of both of their passions, food and wine.
A lot of chefs are asked what inspired them to cook. With Sarah German, it is the true child in all of us that answers, “I learned to make cookies so I could eat them.” Genius. Simply genius. Lucky for us Sarah loves to share.
Her journey from cookie monster to confection craftsman began as a baker, working in a variety of pastry shops in Montana, Oregon, and British Columbia. Compelled by a deep love of all things sugar and a drive to master classic technique, she eventually moved to New York City to attend the French Culinary Institute, enrolling in the premier pastry program led by the talented Jacques Torres. While in New York, Sarah had the opportunity to work with some of the most renowned restaurants and pastry chefs in the country—including a stint at Le Cirque.
After returning to the Northwest, Sarah visited Walla Walla on a wine vacation and fell in love with the beauty and lifestyle of the region. She soon made the valley her home and muse. For Sarah, there is nothing more rewarding than making people happy by creating nostalgic desserts reinterpreted by the impact of fresh and local ingredients. So please, indulge your inner child and treat yourself to one of her handmade, memorable creations.
There is something so pure and simple about accepting a truck full of local, organic produce in the morning and by evening, turning it into a vibrant plate presented to that very same farmer. Two livelihoods have never made such a beautiful marriage, and there is no one that takes that contract more seriously than Jose Meza.
Jose made his home in Walla Walla over seventeen years ago and found his sanctuary in the kitchen just over ten. The culinary world called to him as a way to express his creativity and connect with his community. He has had the opportunity to work with an array of talented local chefs and considers those experiences, along with countless hours spent in his mother’s kitchen, his culinary foundation.
Food for Jose is about respecting where it comes from, honoring the traditions that transform it, and continuing to explore the endless way it can be interpreted. Every single dish that he sends out of the kitchen is something he is proud of, from its humble beginnings to its flawless final presentation.
Director of Operations
Tracy may have been born in New York and spent formative years in Florida, but her heart now firmly belongs to the West. She honed her impressive skill set via a Business degree from Florida State University and a notable job start at Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.
She attributes the best career decision she’s made to taking the chance and moving out West to be the Catering Manager for the Seahawks. It opened a lot of doors and eventually led her to her new home.
Walla Walla beckoned to Tracy and her husband as a Mecca for food, wine and the opportunity to really be a “part of something”. For her, food creates strong memories and reminds us all of our past. Food and celebrations are a big part of her life and she’s grateful that her enthusiasm can help make someone else’s dining experience wonderful and memorable.
One of the most defining characteristics of Sierra is her profound love for this area. She is the quintessential Walla Walla farm girl, born and raised in Touchet, WA. Her roots and heart are firmly embedded in this valley, demonstrated by the many hours she spends volunteering at numerous local non- profit organizations. Her commitment to helping this community became the guiding force for her career in the food and beverage industry.
To her, the highlight of her work day is the extra percent of effort she puts in to catering events. This attention to detail, and her thoughtful touches, go beyond our guests’ expectations and add that personal touch that completes their special events. She credits being at Olive Catering as one of the best moves she's made, working with amazing people and learning how to build a great local business.