Executive Chef Jason Schofield, of the Schofield Restaurant Group, describes himself as a simple chef, “I like to take all my life experiences and use them to create my food… keeping things real, keeping them simple… that’s me.” When he was a kid, Chef Jason would go to restaurants with his father and “just try everything.” “Those were happy times with my father, experiencing those foods, often for the first time. It created a desire to always look for new things or new ways to make things. This kid-like ‘I am-ness’ is how I still approach my dishes today, with that newness and creativeness born of fun; playing with the textures, colors, and flavors of food to find new, fresh ways of cooking everything.”
While not wanting to “over complicate” things, Chef Jason believes that the best chefs are those who respect and nurture the “science” of cooking. “If I wasn’t a chef, I would probably be a scientist or physicist… I really enjoy the science of it all, the ‘why’ and ‘how’ things happen. Cooking is a process that often combines very different flavors and ingredients to make a complete ‘whole’ dish.”
“Sometimes I feel the term ‘Chef’ is loosely used… a true chef is more than just someone who cooks or runs a kitchen. A chef has to understand the art and science of the processes involved not only in creating the dishes, but also how they are presented, marketed, served, and even how the business of running a restaurant works. It isn’t just ‘home cooking.’” Chef Jason believes that learning is a lifelong process, and is vital to create and maintain a successful career. “There is no end point, you are always ‘becoming’ a chef, always pushing the boundaries, gaining a better understanding of flavors, learning new techniques of making things in different ways.”
For Chef Jason, success breeds success, and that is the main point he drives home to his clients as a Culinary Business Consultant. “There is a huge ‘surrounding knowledge’ of what it means to cook, to design a menu, to run a restaurant as a successful business. I apply the science of what it means to cook to my consulting. The restaurant isn’t just a place to cook, serve, and eat, it is a microcosm of everything it takes to make that happen, and it has to be viewed that way, as an inclusive process.” Chef Jason’s first impression is what helps him discern the levels of success and failure in a restaurant. “I view the restaurant as a whole, I look at the ambience, the food and menu design, the layout of the dining and cooking areas, and how it all ties together. I visit many, many restaurants, and that means I see what works and what doesn’t, then I apply that knowledge scientifically to solve the problems I find or discover new areas for growth.”
Understanding the scientific processes of cooking and also having an artistic and creative mind are two sides of the coin that makes a successful chef. “A good chef has three attributes: human skill, which is natural talent, technical skill, which is learned and practiced, and conceptual skill, which is the creative aspect, and what will really set you apart. A chef is a scientist/artist… you have to use your knowledge of the chemical reactions of the ingredients that go into making a dish, and then you have to present the food in a fun, appealing way.”
What is the hardest thing a chef has to do in his or her career? Chef Jason has a short answer for that, “It is very important to get everyone on your team to believe in the same vision you have… they may not share your passion, but they have to believe in the direction you are leading them. Then it is your job to keep them intrigued and motivated. You have to wear many hats to be a successful chef, it isn’t a profession for the lazy. You have to thrive on the challenges but balance that with your home life outside of the restaurant… it is the only way to keep your sanity!”
Always looking forward, Chef Jason has several restaurant concepts his company will be opening in the near future. “There are trends in the culinary world, based both on idea-driven and customer preference concepts. Having my own theme-based, concept driven restaurants allows me to put these trends into play, to see what works and what doesn’t, and then refine and pass along that knowledge to my consulting clients. Just like in the laboratory… the proof is in the putting!”
No matter what the future may hold, the trends for Chef Jason Schofield and his “Schofield Restaurant Group” are definitely leading to success!