JJ Stith was born in Laurenceville, Virginia, 70 miles south of Richmond. As soon as it was possible, she moved to San Francisco and because she always liked to cook pastry, she attended and graduated from the California Culinary Academy. After apprenticing she began to work her way up the kitchen ladder at Splendido’s and Alain Rondelli’s, both in San Francisco. She then went to work for Great Chef Bradley Ogden at One Market Restaurant.
In 1998, Great Chef Michael Mina and the Bellagio Resort and Hotel made her an offer to be the pastry chef at their Aqua Restaurant inside the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Later that year, Great Chefs was taping several chefs at the Resort and taped Chef JJ for their Great Chefs of America television series, to be aired later on the Discovery Channel.