Part 2: Chewing the Fat with Chef Jason by Deb Glasser, MS, RD
DG: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
JK: Employees and retention, finding qualified people that enjoy what they’re doing. Also, navigating the NSLP and finding ingredients and developing recipes the kids will eat.
DG: Tell me something fun about your job.
JK: I have freedom to develop and execute my schedule, I get to move around and see the big picture, and help grow the company.
DG: What’s your favorite recipe in the book?
JK: Jambalaya! Instead of seafood, its chicken and sausage, with well-developed flavor. I used to make a gumbo dish at Bar Crudo which inspired this recipe. The jambalaya is interesting and a bit different, there’s not too much Cajun or Southern food other than fried chicken on lunch menus in schools.
DG: What are you cooking at home these days?
JK: I just got into my pressure cooker again, whole roasts, cuts of meat. I’ve perfected my French onion soup, I’m doing beans, getting more into sous vide in the pressure cooker. For my birthday, I’m getting a circulator to do sous vide.
DG: What do you consistently order at restaurants?
JK: Brunch. I love breakfast foods: waffles, savory sides with my waffles. I love eggs, I like to see where people decide to put eggs. That time of day is the best to eat, I like a mid-day heavy meal and I could eat breakfast all the time.
DG: What do you do in your spare time?
JK: What spare time (laughs out loud)? Lots of gardening. Right now, I just planted four lettuces, peppers, celery, carrots, squash, green beans, strawberries, a fig tree, apple tree, and every single herb including catnip. And six pineapple plants.
DG: What’s your plan for the pineapples?
JK: I’m making Pina coladas and juice and glaze. I went to Brandon’s wedding in Hawaii and I saw the pineapples and got inspired to grow them.
DG: Speaking of growing, you mentioned to me recently your interest in getting involved locally with hunger, policy and legislation.
JK: I’ve always had a political side and I’m trying to figure out what that means for me right now. I can’t get involved with the he said she said rhetoric. I mean we are the most developed nation in the world and we can’t figure out how to feed our people.
DG: What’s the answer?
JK: More access, more community gardening, gardens in schools, bartering systems, home gardening. I trade citrus with my neighbor. I really think we should bring everything back down to the community level. We need to do more education with food, APT (Alphabet Produce Train) introduces kids to fruit and veggies they don’t see. My dad had ten siblings and one income, and his mom grew her own food and cooked until the day she died. She cooked every single day.
DG: SO, grow your food and cook it?
DG: Do you eat plant based now?
JK: Not exactly. I like vegetables and a good veggie burger…but I put bacon on my veggie burger.
DG: That could be the title of your memoir: “I Put Bacon on My Veggie Burger”! Do you have any bacon or pig tattoos?
JK: No swine tatts. I’ve always loved the ocean but wanted something unique, so my tattoos are of monkfish, shrimp, coconut crab. Have you ever seen a coconut crab? (Jason whips out his phone, does a quick image search, and proudly hands me a pic of a coconut crab).
DG: Interesting choice, what else do you collect?
JK: Kitchen utensils. I like new appliances: I have 5 coffeemakers, 8 cast iron pans (some of which were my grandma’s), enameled cast iron pans, pressure cookers, slow cookers, sandwich presses, griddles, immersion blenders, should I go on?
DG: Thanks for hanging Jason, always a pleasure.