Tell the readers a little about yourself.
I am originally from California and grew up between the Bay area and Austin. I moved to Colorado when I was 10 years old and lived there for just over 20 years. I moved to the Houston area about 9 years ago. I have a wife and two children and a younger brother named Jonathan. I am a lifelong musician; I love to play and create music. Pretty much anything I can do to find a creative outlet, I'll do it. Creative expression is one of my main driving passions in life.
Chef Jason working alongside Molly Carr during a cooking demo at Mom's Camp 2018
Why did you decide to become a chef?
I started working in restaurants at the age of 13. Because of this I learned to love the hustle and bustle of the kitchen from a young age. The smells, the sights, the chaos; all of it. After I started, I realized I had not only a passion for cooking but the ability as well. Food always made sense to me. It's one of the best ways for me to explore creatively. there is no ceiling with what you can create. If you dream it up you can make it up.
Where did you go to culinary school? What did you love best about your culinary experience?
I trained with professional chefs from age 13 to 19. At 19 I was a part of a very exclusive culinary apprenticeship through the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort in Colorado Springs. This was an intensive 1 year hands-on apprenticeship.
What I loved best about my education experience was the pace of knowledge. It was a very rapid pace which intrigued me because I like challenges and it was an extremely challenging way to learn the culinary arts. Also, most people don't get to cook for foreign dignitaries and presidents while in school and I had that opportunity.
Is there a chef that you admire most? Who and why?
There are 2 men that I admire most as chefs. One of them is Anthony Bourdain. He embodies, to me, what cooking is all about. Bourdain was the type of chef that would thumb his nose at everybody and at the status quo of what it means to be a chef. A rebel in that regards. He self-processed that he was not a great cook but was a very good leader and visionary with what he wanted to accomplish in his culinary career; to go his own way.
The second chef is Thomas Keller, He was a visionary of his time in his preparation techniques and attention to detail. The way he cooked and presented his dishes was nothing like what had been done prior. I draw a lot of inspiration from his cooking technique and recipes.
What do you do to stay educated about new food trends?
I do a lot of reading. I read a lot of cook books, chef biographies and autobiographies. There are new chefs within the past 10 years that are doing amazing things with food science. It may not all be applicable in a practical sense, but it definitely drives me to want to explore more.
Tell me about an accomplishment that you are proud of in your career?
Achieving the position I have here. This is what every professional chef works for. Very few of us get the opportunity to lead your own staff that makes your own food. And to have the responsibility to know that it's your house. It's why we do it.
When are you the happiest at work?
In front of a cutting board with a knife in my hand, creating something or teaching new techniques and preparations to my staff. I just love to be in the trenches with my team making food.
What brings you to Camp Allen?
I quit cooking professionally 5 years ago. And honestly, I didn't have a lot of inclination to return. But, the opportunity that presented itself here, I just couldn't pass up. Like I said earlier, Camp Allen offered me every chef's dream. Camp Allen's environment allows me to be a chef, but I still have time to be with my family. I may not be serving Haute cuisine, but the guests I'm serving are far more significant to me than a typical patron in a restaurant. What we do here is meaningful and I take great joy in the ability to further someone's happiness and contribute to their overall experience here.
What are your favorite foods to pair together and why?
I like mixing savory with fruit. I enjoy the challenge of pairing those two together. Taking the sweet and savory to create a dish is a challenge. For example, one of the new dishes that I am making to be served at the conference center is a Strawberry Glazed Salmon.
Any current favorite recipes you like to make at home?
Indian Cuisine in general, the flavor palates that you get to work with are like nothing else in the world. Here's a recipe for what I've been making lately: