Joanna is responsible for bringing Kalamata to life on the page. Jo is an fine artist and graphic designer, and also mom to Jude Alexander and Oliver Arrow. Jo was initially drawn to Kalamata because of her name— Jo’s family is from Kalamata in Greece! Her memories are also very food oriented— she grew up in a family that shopped, cooked, and ate together, and is so excited to pour those vivid memories into illustrations in the world of Kalamata’s Kitchen.
Growing up, Jo was the “kid who ate anything.” Her strongest, earliest food memories are of dipping homemade bread into the olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper that collected at the bottom of big bowls of greek salad her dad would make. She now loves making crazy cakes and soups, and still has her childhood love of dipping good bread into delicious soupy goodness!
Jo has her degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University. She created artwork for New York Times Bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club memoir Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Her murals are featured on buildings in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.
What is your favorite thing to cook with your kids? “My boys LOVE to help me in the kitchen! It’s usually with chocolate chip pancakes. We do it once a week, usually on weekends, and they love to crack eggs, whisk, measure.. I do all of the things that require heat. They both like different chocolate chips (one likes semi-sweet and the other likes milk chocolate,) so they each get to make their own.”
If you could travel anywhere under your kitchen table, where would you go? “I would take my family to Greece. My husband and my kids have never met my dad's whole side of the family because they live there. Apparently, my grandmother, Aphrodite was an amazing cook. They used to say "Just give her a pot of water and she'll make something incredible". I never met her, but I imagine her to be a food magician much like my dad. I'd go back to cook with her and talk with her and learn to make something that she used to make.”