Jason began his culinary career under Eric Villegas, host of Michigan’s culinary television show Fork in the Road. It was during his time at Villegas’ restaurant that he realized his dream of becoming a chef. His confidence in his culinary abilities prompted him to seek further education at Hawaii’s Culinary Institute of the Pacific in 1999. During his time there he fell in love with the Pacific Rim and the variety of local Hawaiian seafood and produce.
After graduating in 2002, his search for the ideal culinary scene led him to Chicago to work at TRU, bringing a very playful approach to food to his repertoire. After a time at TRU and a stint as Executive Sous Chef at Green Dolphin Street, he moved to SUSHISAMBArio. “It was the perfect place to share my love of Japanese Cuisine and expand my horizons at the same time,” says Jason.
A once in a lifetime position as Executive Chef of Grand City Grille in Detroit, a restaurant opening in time for Super Bowl 40, prompted Jason to move back to Michigan, and his wife’s relocation to Virginia took him to Washington DC and a position as Executive Sous Chef at Firefly Restaurant.
Jason returned to SUSHISAMBA rio in 2008 as Chef de Cuisine, practicing the flavors and techniques of Japan, Peru and Brazil.
After taking some time off to care for his 7 month old daughter, Jason decided to dive back into kitchens outside of his home, which led him to work side by side with Dan Smith at Hearty. Born and raised in Michigan, he’s familiar with American comfort food and truly believes in Midwest hospitality. His sense of humor with food goes well with Dan’s playful approach to the menu. “I love the simple, straight forward, made from scratch methods used at Hearty,” says Jason. Along with humor and his easygoing attitude, he plans to bring his past experiences and creative ideas within Hearty focusing on seasonality, sustainability, working with local farms.
“I am ecstatic to once again be part of the world class Chicago food scene,” says Jason.
Hearty welcomes Jason to our team and we look forward to see and taste what he’ll bring to the table!!!