Jill Backman is a renaissance woman: an art historian, a renovator of historic homes, and a passionate devotee of chocolate, cheese, and other artisan foods. Last year, she joined her husband, Bruce Nichols, at The Wine Store and established Jill’s Provisions, a curated portfolio of gourmet items designed to accompany wine purchases.
“I wanted to better understand Bruce’s love of wine,” she explains. “To find a way to relate to what he was doing, I started with chocolate. Like wine, chocolate is a fermented product with a long history.”
An extension course in chocolate Backman took at Harvard ignited her interest. She followed that up by attending two cheese camps, at Murray’s and Jasper Hill Farm. During the past year she has added charcuterie boards, Castelvetrano olives, and bread from New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery. To her, the background and culture of an item are just as important as the product itself.
“When I buy chocolate, I always look for people who are part of the craft movement and send money back to the farmers,” she says. “I’d like people to realize that when they eat cheese or chocolate, it comes from somewhere and has a legacy.”
While Jill’s Provisions is a business, Backman also sees it as a powerful educational force. “I want this to be a place for people to find products they can’t get anywhere else, but I also want them to know where the items are from and how they’re made. By sharing stories like that, we can build a community.”