Jacob Willner

Coolstuff Team
May 3, 2024

Meet Jacob, the founder of Treetop Journeys and Eves – two concepts that center around gathering people together around food, learning, and connection. Between the two concepts, Jacob has stretched from hosting farm-to-table glamping weekends upstate to intimate dinners on top of the Williamsburg Bridge. We caught up with Jacob to hear his story.

How did you start your farm-to-table getaway company, Treetop Journeys?

I actually wasn’t much of a camper or outdoor person for most of my life. I even studied finance in school and really gave that a run for its money… no pun intended. I quickly realized that it wasn’t the right fit for me, so I began working with some outdoor outfitters on the weekends (Destination Backcountry, Sourced Adventures), and that's when I fell in love with the woods. Coming from California, I had never seen anything as lush and green as Upstate New York, and I knew I had to spend as much time as possible up there. I quickly quit my financial job and jumped into several outdoor roles, one being with Outward Bound, where we took kids upstate to create bonds and friendships within their school and community that would last a lifetime.

Then Covid came around, and during the downtime, I wondered why there weren’t similar programs for adults. Why couldn’t we create a stress-free, childlike world that we provided for these kids, but for adults? That's where Treetop Journeys started. I wanted to create a program that brought strangers together where they could slow down, enjoy the sounds, listen, and make new friends, all while having a hyper-seasonal farm-to-table dinner with some glamping accommodations and great workshops.

Tell us about your work with Upstate, NY farms. 

Farm-to-table is such a buzzword these days, which is great if people are actually sourcing from smaller farms and using ingredients that are made sustainably and ethically. With Eves and Treetop, we really wanted to ensure that was the case. All of our menus for each and every one of our dinners are designed around what is in season, and we work with farms that are in the region of our dinners. If the dinner is in the city, you can catch the chefs at the farmers' market the day before, and sometimes the day of.

Also, a special shoutout to our friends Asia and Melody, who run a company called Monday-Wednesday, acting as the middle person to all the great farms in the region if you need something that isn’t at the market.

What’s your favorite part about the New York creative community? 

One of my favorite aspects of the New York creative community is its vibrancy and diversity. New York attracts creatives from all walks of life, backgrounds, and disciplines, leading to a melting pot of ideas, perspectives, and talents. Whether you're into visual arts, theater, music, fashion, or any other creative field, you'll find a thriving community and endless opportunities for collaboration, inspiration, and innovation. There's an energy in the air that you can't really find anywhere else. 

We're so excited about your new indoor dinner experience, Eves! Can you tell us more about what inspired this new venture?

As we all know, glamping and eating outside aren’t the most popular activities in the colder months. So, to help spread the word about our outdoor company, we started doing some small dinners in the city, typically in places that had no kitchen. We were such pros at cooking outside with little to no resources that we thought, why not showcase a similar concept indoors for galleries and other venues that typically can't host dinner parties in their space because of kitchen resources. It was such a success that it was time to give it its own name: Eves. Named after my grandma, who recently passed away and always loved bringing people together and cooking for them.

Do you have a favorite chef you've worked with?

All the chefs we work with bring a unique style and their own creativity to the kitchen and the table. We like to say that the food being prepared and presented is the chef's version of their own art—an art piece that is only there for that moment in time, and everyone who eats it will experience it differently.

One chef I would like to say thanks to is Marisa Nakamura. She is continuously pushing the boundaries of the possibilities around food, and each and every one of the dinners I have had her on she creates a menu that is jaw-dropping and eye-watering. Marisa’s energy, creativity, and drive are unmatched in so many ways, and I am grateful that she is a part of the team.

Follow Along: