I first met Jason through my husband Taki, at his place of work, Peels on the Bowery in Manhattan, NY. He is a very talented individual and I always look forward to eating his creations whenever I’m in the city. Jason is tattooed and so naturally I thought of him for this blog. I had a chat with Jason the other day and asked him a few things about his life, work and most importantly, his tattoos…
Jason grew up in the Bay Area of Northern California, San Jose to be exact. He spent his childhood skateboarding and generally just being a punk. He attended Cal Poly University and graduated with a degree in biochemistry. After working in the industry for some time, he decided to follow his heart and start cooking professionally.
He had always been the one to tend the grill or make breakfast after big parties. He started cooking in San Francisco and it eventually landed him in NYC, cooking at Barbuto in the Five Points neighborhood. Today he works at Peels. He loves growing in his career; his dog, Marzipan and he and his wife Shannon are proud new parents to a beautiful baby girl, named Coralie Mae.
Here is a quick Q&A between Jason and I:
M: What was your first tattoo?
J: My first tattoo: inside right upper arm. It is design from the band Jawbreaker, one of my favorite bands of all-time.
M: What’s your next tattoo going be?
J: My next tattoo will be my newborn daughters name Coralie Mae, and some flowers and fun stuff around it. Got a space for it already.
M: You have quite a collection of tattoos, which are some of your favorites? Any funny stories?
J: Ah, well I have a couple of favorites. One is a memorial for my grandfather, has roses and a fishing reel. Used to go fishing with my grandfather a lot. Sweety (NYC), one of my best friends and an awesome artist, did that tattoo. He actually officiated our wedding. Justin May (Bell) (SF) did the other one. It’s a six-shooter pistol… I just think it’s awesome, clean and simple. The straightest lines I’ve ever seen. Justin was my best man at my wedding.
I’ve also got some others by Patrick Conlon; he did “all the bells and whistles”. And when Sweety was just starting out I’ve got a cool piece of Ed Hardy flash on my leg. A tooth tattoo when Justin had a toothache and the clock on my arm reads “Two Minutes To Midnight” referencing of course Iron Maiden. Oh, and my “Mother” tattoo, also included, also done by Justin May. I do really love the demon on my chest by the one and only Taki.
M: Ha-ha, that must have been awhile ago! Do you think there is a reason why so many chefs are tattooed? Do you see any connection between cooking and tattooing?
J: Hmm, I think, first off it’s accepted. We [chefs] aren’t held to any strict “dress codes” so-to-speak. We are behind the scenes for the most part, not like other jobs. I also believe (at least when I started cooking professionally) that we are kind of a rebellious, punk-ass group of individuals. We curse, smoke, drink and stay out late; although I think that image has changed. Perhaps I think it’s changed ’cause I have matured in this industry, I don’t drink or smoke any longer, just coffee and cursing. And having a child changes everything…
Now I’m just rambling! But I also think in recent years it has kind of turned into a hipster career to take on these days and hipsters love tattoos. I also believe that tattoos in general are more accepted by most of the general public. I mean look at all the television shows about tattoos. Not to mention some amazing artists making the tattoos. It’s really incredible to see how the tattoo industry has evolved in the last 15 or so years. I guess the connection I draw is that my tattoos are another form of self-expression just like my food. I have always wanted tattoos and had tattoos before I started cooking, I don’t have any food related tattoos, but I’ve got space. I hope that helped.
M: Is there any particular dish you are known for and what is it?
J: Signature dish is a tough one; I really enjoy making sausages and various charcuteries. My buttermilk biscuits are also one of my signatures. It’s really hard for me to pinpoint just one dish. I, like many chefs right now, enjoy utilizing the green markets and local farms and farmers, thereby creating and paring new ideas and dishes.
M: Any cooking tip for baking biscuits?
J: Tips for cooking biscuits: always mix biscuits by hand start to finish. Even though it’s messy it’s a must, you have to feel the dough. That is the love.
M: Rightly said, Jason, I totally agree. Cooking is feeling! Thank you!
Jason was kind enough to contribute an amazing recipe for one of the many dishes he is known for, Homemade Sausage. Read on and get inspired!
Smoked Fresno Chili & Poblano Pork Kielbasa
5 pounds of pork shoulder cleaned and trimmed of sinew 2# fat back give or take if there is a god amount of fat on the shoulder then add less fat back
2 tbls kosher salt
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp cayenne or more for spicier
1 tsp smoked hot paprika
2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp mace
1 tbls dextrose
1 Fresno chili small dice
1 poblano chili small dice
1 cup crushed ice
- Cut pork and fat into 1-inch cubes or long thin strips. Marinate the pork and fat overnight in the dry spice mix, excluding the dextrose
- Grind meat and fat, you can use a fine or coarse grinding plate it’s really up to you and the texture you want
- In a mixing bowl add the dextrose and the diced peppers. Mix by hand or machine on low-speed for about a minute. Do not over mix of the fat will begin to emulsify
- When mixed thoroughly take a sample piece of the sausage and make it into a patty, cook it and taste it. Adjust salt to your liking
- Next case the sausage in hog casing. I use a 45mm casing. But you can use large or small. 45 is a larger size primarily used for kielbasa
- Hang the sausage overnight in a refrigerator so that I will dry, which allows the smoke to better penetrate for good flavor
- Smoke sausage. Electric or open flame works just fine. I usually start at 140F and gradually increase to 165F. I smoke for about two hours or until sausage is firm to the touch. Hang the sausage for a couple of days and enjoy cold, grilled or in soups and stews
Note: Important to keep all utensils cold when grinding sausage.
Thank you Jason DeBriere, I know I’m sure gonna try this soon! YUMMMMM…
Follow Jason on Instagram @jasoncooksfood
Photos courtesy of Jason DeBriere
Molly can be found at Knives and Needles: http://knivesandneedlesblog.com/.
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