As you can tell by her last name, Janet comes from an Irish background. She was born in Chicago, and has been known to proudly define herself as “loud and opinionated as any other Chicago Irish Democrat.” In second grade, Janet moved to Oregon where her family “little house on the prairied it,” building a home on a 35-acre property of mostly woods. “I was a country bumpkin,” she says, “I spent my childhood running around barefoot in the woods, building tree forts and imagining wood fairies.”
Next door to the O’Connor Homestead was another neighbor who had a small working farm. Janet spent a significant amount of time there, where she helped with farm chores like tanning deer hide, milking goats, harvesting stinging nettle, or plucking feathers from a duck.
Meanwhile, Janet’s father firmly believed in Eating Real Food. He made bread from scratch and served it with butter, not margarine- even when it was all the rage. He took Janet along on mushroom foraging adventures, where he could recount all of the Latin names of local mushrooms. Fishing was also a frequent activity, and if her dad wasn’t around, Janet would fashion her own “rod” from a stick and string and go fishing in the creek that ran through the property.
It was these early childhood experiences that taught Janet the difference between eating from the earth and eating from a box. In high school, she worked in a food both at the annual Scandinavian Festival. After graduation, she spent a year in French-speaking Switzerland, perfecting her French and enjoying European cuisine, returning to Eugene to work at Cafè Central (now Soriah).
It didn’t take long for Janet to realize that this passion would be a lifelong endeavor, and she moved to Portland to attend Le Cordon Bleu. She continued the development of her skills at a number of Portland restaurants, including Ringside, Atwaters, Zell’s, the Heathman, and Meriwethers. For a period, she owned the Savory Tart with her former husband Scott.
She was working as a server at Zell’s when she met David, who came in often with his sons. Slowly, David began courting her. Not realizing the extent of her culinary expertise, David cooked her dinner for their first date. Fortunately, David is quite a good cook himself, and managed to sustain Janet’s interest.
Five years later, the couple began what has evolved into Bethany’s Table, where the talents of both are on full display. Janet’s barefoot farm-child roots come through strongly in her menu, which always shows the utmost respect to seasonal ingredients and high-quality meat and seafood items. Janet can also be found wandering through the dining room, humbly accepting compliments and greeting many of her regular customers by name. Most of her time, however, is still spent in the kitchen, where her mere presence permeates each and every delicious dish that comes through those curtains.