Although he is fairly new the Atlanta area, you may recognize Chef John from the Dinner with the Avery’s Podcast by DJ Holiday and Ebony Avery. Chef John is originally from the East Coast, born and raised in Washington, DC. He has been living and breathing his true passion of cooking for over a decade, and has made his way to ATL!
We’ve had the pleasure to sit down with him and get some insight and tips, that are sure to wow the true foodies out there, as well as serve inspiration and encouragement to aspiring chefs! — Let’s check him out.
How did you get your start in culinary arts?
I got my first start in culinary arts 15 years ago. I went to a job fair and saw so many different jobs available, and I remember saying to myself that they didn’t look happy…There was a chef there and he was so passionate about what he did. He did something that everyone in the room didn’t do — he sold me on a career, not a job.
What role, if any, does culture play in the dynamics of your cooking?
Culture plays a major part in what I cook and how I cook. I think we are divided as people from all different nationalities, religions, political views etc; but food brings those things together in such a major way, it provides a great way to learn more about different cultures. I also think it helps break down walls of racism and incites new visions and ways of bridging those gaps.
If you had to tell us three signature dishes of yours, what would they be and what do they consist of?
Curry chicken…very near and dear to me it was the first dish I learned to make really well. Curry makes a difference; organic chicken, great herbs and vegetables. Curry is a slowly cooked dish so it requires patience to extract the best flavors out of that dish.
Fish tacos…definitely my favorite to make because it allows for so many varieties of fish, freshness, and flavor. I prefer a really good piece of snapper, fresh cilantro, roasted corn and peppers, lime juice, onions, etc. What’s so great about this dish is that the ingredients do the bulk of the work.
Braised oxtail….probably the only thing that would make me get on one knee for a woman: is if she can make great Ox-Tails (laughs)I love perfectly cooked Oxtails…fresh herbs, great vegetables, and plenty of time is the trick to great oxtails.
Do you create all your own authentic recipes? Tell us about that process.
All my dishes are made from scratch; that’s the way I was taught. Scratch cooking has always been a staple in my career as I don’t take shortcuts. The process is really simple. I’ve acquired so many different recipes over time and have just taken them and allowed them to evolve over time, as I draw from daily inspiration to create new ones.
What has been your favorite cooking experience yet? And why?
My favorite cooking experience is working on the podcast I am currently a part of: “Dinner with The Avery’s,” starring ATL’s own DJ Holiday and his First Lady Ebony Avery. That has been the best fun I have had in my entire career as a Chef. I am just thankful for the opportunity to cook for them and other guests. Those two have been a really great support since I’ve moved here to Atlanta.
Do you cook foods, dishes or genres that you don’t necessarily eat yourself? (Such as different meat selections, vegan, vegetarian, etc)
Every genre/style of food I cook, I enjoy eating myself. I absolutely love food so there is not too much I won’t eat.
Considering that Valentines Day is approaching, what are some of your favorite meals to present for date nights, classy parties, or private romantic dinners? And what is that experience like; booking such a special occasion with Chef John?
Booking Valentine’s dinner with Chef John is an experience! I love taking classic dishes and recreating them for small special occasions; its the best. Some dishes might be Smothered Chicken, Jerk Ribeye, MD Crab Cakes, etc. I try to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Tell us about some of your plans for 2019?
2019 has already started off great! I’m currently working on a food truck as well as a restaurant concept, and I am working on my brand, along with some other great exciting things I am not at liberty to discuss just yet — but it will be big!
Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs and culinary artists?
My advice for anyone that is aspiring to be a chef, is to take the time to learn and perfect the craft. I am so tired of seeing people disrespect the craft by putting the title “Chef” in front of their name, and they have only been cooking for two years — or they have watched a couple of youtube clips. (Laughter) Respect the CRAFT! Learn to develop the passion and study from people ahead of you. Most importantly LOVE IT because there are good days and bad days. If you’re going to work in this business, it has to be unconditional.
Where do you see yourself going industry-wise, in the next 5 years or so?
Honestly, I see myself owning some things and transitioning from just being in the kitchen, to being in front of the camera. It’s looking really good and I am just enjoying the ride!
All Images Courtesy of Chef John