Geri Jo Dockterman Manson
Geri Jo Dockterman Manson doesn’t ever remember not cooking. It is her source of relaxation, connection, and joy. And, especially during the Jewish holidays, her lifelong passion radiates.
“I’m someone who would rather make something than watch other people make it,” she says. “And I love to share what I make.”
By day, Manson is the donor relations manager for Forty Carrots Family Center, a Sarasota nonprofit organization that offers empowering educational programs for local families. Manson joined the staff in 2007 and is the liaison for all donors, sponsors, and volunteers. She also coordinates annual fundraisers and community events. After her workdays, she heads home to the kitchen.
“I have the best job in the world. I’m passionate about it because, 23 years ago, I came here as a parent who was taking parenting classes. I truly know what a difference that made for me as a parent,” says Manson, who hails from Davenport, Iowa, and was a stay-at-home mom and volunteer for 20 years. “I also happen to have a child with Asperger Syndrome. He just graduated from college and that wouldn’t have happened to me if I hadn’t had this experience.” Mothering, for Manson, goes hand in hand with cooking.
“My mom was constantly cooking and I learned from her. I’m an only child and she was always cooking for the neighbors, for everybody. It was just the way that I grew up,” Manson says. “Now I love to go home and cook for myself.”
Manson enjoys a challenge, too. She is currently attempting to master tortillas, and regularly reads the New York Times food section for inspiration. She adores cookbooks, especially those written by Joan Nathan. Manson grows her own herbs in her home garden: basil, mint, cilantro, rosemary, and chives.
“I love this community and, compared to where I grew up, this is a huge Jewish community. I was raised with the values of giving back, and there are so many opportunities to do that here,” says Manson, who finds every chance to combine her culinary passion with her natural instinct to share. In other words, holidays at Manson’s house are epic.
“I love Hanukkah the most. I love taking chicken breasts and just dipping them in egg wash and rolling them in matzo meal and cayenne pepper, with a drop of olive oil in the pan. I like to make stuff up,” Manson says. “I make my matzo ball soup from scratch and it’s pretty killer. I do latkes and I have a challah recipe that’s to die for. I enjoy having all of my friends over, entertaining them, feeding them, and just having them be my guinea pigs.”
For more information on Forty Carrots Family Center, call 941-365-7716 or visit fortycarrots.com