“Itta Bena” is a comfortable, friendly, and tasteful restaurant at Pointe Orlando, in Central Florida, and it reflects the qualities and tastes of the man who puts the magic on the plates, Chef Jason Eccleston.
Born in Connecticut, Chef Jason spent his younger years in Augsburg, Germany, before finding himself back in the U.S. in the Central Florida area. “Growing up in Germany was a great cultural experience for me, it influenced my life in so many ways, from introducing many foreign tastes to my pallet to broadening my views on culture and how a culture influences your perceptions and assumptions.”
While this international influence is important to who he is, Chef Jason is quick to point out that his roots are All-American: “I have been eating and cooking Southern food for over 20 years, I’ve been a Florida chef my entire career, plus, this is where I began my culinary career, cooking with and learning from many of the great chefs found right here in Florida… so I have a unique perception of international and local fare.”
“To create a successful menu, or even dish for that matter, you have to start with the clientele, what do they want, what drives them, but you also have to cook for yourself at the same time… the dish is something you have to express honestly, you have to believe in it as a chef. You have to put your heart into what you cook, that is what leads you in your passion to create and to excel… it isn’t just about ingredients and flavor, even though those are big considerations, but the successful dish is created with passion and heart. It always starts with people, then you follow the drive to create something that exceeds their expectations.”
When asked what qualities he believes an aspiring chef should possess, Chef Jason has a very practical answer: Determination. “Being a chef is a very hard job, there are a lot of long hours and all the sacrifices that go along with that. For most restaurants, the majority of the stress in your day as a chef happens during dinner service, which means you definitely aren’t doing a ‘9 to 5’ job. Also, you can’t just jump right into being a chef, it takes a lot of practice, training, and experience, time spent learning from others, so you have to start by finding someone to get behind, someone you believe in, who is willing to mentor you… and then you start washing dishes, peeling potatoes, whatever it takes to be in the kitchen, learning from the professionals, to see what they are doing when time is short and decisions have to be made quick. That’s the best way to find your path, to get direction.”
Chef Jason is equally passionate about his work at “Itta Bena” on the 2nd level at Pointe Orlando, in Orlando, Florida. “We have a very relaxed atmosphere at ‘Itta Bena’ and that is just the way I like it. Upscale and nice, but you don’t have to be in a 3 piece suit… what I would call ‘polished casual,’ with musical interpretations played on the piano, based on the influences of BB King and other similar artists.” With steaks, seafood, and other classic “Surf and Turf” fare on the menu, guests may arrive hungry, but they will only leave satisfied! “It’s not too loud, there is nothing overwhelmingly distracting going on… our guests can have a nice dinner with family or friends and be able to actually chat and converse… it is the perfect combination of food and a friendly atmosphere!”
For a comfortable, enjoyable, and tasteful dining experience, make it a point to go to “Itta Bena” exclusively at Pointe Orlando, in Orlando, Florida. Chef Jason Eccleston knows you will enjoy the Southern Hospitality with the International flair!