JASON PERU

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"I get my inspiration from all sources of life"

Fotografía de INTERVIEWS WITH OUR CHEFS

 

What made you want to become a chef?

From a tender age I always had a proclivity towards desserts and savory food items. I was a chubby boy with a weight of 150lbs by age 14 and it occured to me that eating unhealthy was the main determinant to my current physical position. I was always curious about food but really never fully understood what eating healthy meant to the body and mind. It was my gym instructor who taught me to channel my love for food into a positive incarnation by further studying cooking as a vehicle for nourishing people, making them smile and being responsible for ensuring that they eat healthy and live a clean life style. Few months later I had shed all this extra weight and this grew my self-confidence and dream to pursue this mission that I was charged with.

 

Who has influenced your cooking style or your philosophy on food?

During my University years at Johnson and Wales University, I worked with my Mentor, Chef Cabrera. He always was a very organized and forward thinking man . He was a young man, aged 30, who accomplished so much in his tenure. I admired this a lot about him. He taught me strategic planning and how to work smart. For a chef these days, we are more than just cooks who make dishes, we are managers and entrepreneurs who must possess the skill of management of others as well as ourselves.

 

What inspires you or where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from all sources of life. Whether it may be Television Shows, people whom I converse with about food, music, even the option of recreating the classics in our cuisine and merging them with Avant Garde concepts with a bit of technology.

 

What is your favourite method of cookery or preparation?

I enjoy using pork. Pork is so fatty, flavourful and can be augmented into so many preparations. The taste is unctuous as well as the texture of the fat and meat can be manipulated into so many end results. 

I absolutely enjoy grilling and roasting. The flavour and the development of complex taste and aromas always seem to titillate my senses on all levels.

 

What is your favourite ingredient?

I enjoy using pork. Pork is so fatty, flavourful and can be augmented into so many preparations. The taste is unctuous as well as the texture of the fat and meat can be manipulated into so many end results.

 

What is your favourite kitchen tool?

I love my Kitchen Knife. It may sounds cliché but as a chef, it is so powerful and meaningful in your hands. To fabricate, chop, mince you name it. With good skill and talent, the chef knife can be that only tool you need to cook for the ones you love.

 

What is your favourite section in the kitchen to work on during your apprenticeship?

During my apprentice, I enjoyed working the oriental sections of the restaurant. Understanding the diverse flavours of the Orient was stunning and constantly trying to balance tastes from using certain ingredients in correct proportions was always like a great science class.

 
Where you like to eat out?
I believe solely that our cuisine in Trinidad is an amalgamation of creeds, races and cultures. With such a rich and eclectic heritage, we are home to some of the most unique and tastiest foods you will ever come across . I enjoy a good bake shark at Richards, (Maracas Bay), a delicious salted fish and roasted coconut bake from The Breakfast Shed (Port of Spain) is a delight. The mesmeric Chaud burger at the Chaud Cafe at One Woodbrook place is a favorutie of mine; dining at Ghazal Indian Restaurant on the Avenue makes me smile ear to ear, and some delicious homemade coconut ice cream in a cone at Munchkins on Maraval Road completes just some of my favorite places.
 

What would you like to see change with the cook schools?
I believe more real time experiences for the students. The constant policy and curriculum adherence is all well and fine but sometimes we forget that we are preparing students for the real word and we have to stop babying them and protecting them from the realness of the industry. We have to engage them in more industry training and explicit showcases of what the food business is about.

 

Your advice to young chefs?

You have to possess a die hard love and passion for this industry. To be a chef is one that is vastly demanding and can take a toll on your body, soul , family life and mental capacity . You have to stick at it and give it your all . 

The hours are long, coupled with exhaustive physical work, but if you exude that dedication and commitment to making people happy, smile and fall head over heals with your oral bounded creations, you can find it very rewarding financially and personally.

 

What do you look for when hiring staff?

Omnipotent work ethic, positive attitude, and one should posses the understanding of a team player. They should harness the belief that the restaurant is also their own and would always seek the best outcome at all times for the sake of delighting the customer. 

 

What would you like to see change in the industry?

A greater and more profound respect for chefs. The education of the masses to alert them that chefs are more than just people who cook, but they help feed the nation at large. They are equipped with nutritional input about the foods we nourish our bodies with and posses a skill that is just as critical and prestigious as lawyers and doctors. We are a pantheon of culinary craftsmen who manipulate ingredients into marvellous delicious creations. 

 

How do you deal with awkward guests?

One should always exercise understanding to guests. Depending on their level of socialisation and background, not all guests may be keen to dining etiquette and equipped with the initiative of what proper culinary consumption is. Hence as a chef it is our responsibility to educate and be patient with guests to help unearth what their motivations are and what they desire. 

 
What is your first memory of food that blew your mind?
Probably when I realised that I could make someone smile and they spoke so positively about a creation I came up with. Food gives me the opportunity to harness a creative energy with my wildest gastronomic imagination and hence this gives me the enlightenment to construct, orchestrate and bring to life my tastiest culinary dreams. Food in my opinion is my calling to make people happy and have them fall in love with my oral bounded gastronomic creations. Food is highly sensual as we smell it, see it, touch it, taste it and even hear the sizzles of it approaching us. Food gets me excited and all others around. If I am able to bring to life an idea I envisioned and represent it by plating it and serving it, just to see the smile on the client's face; is all I need to live by. 
 

What is your favourite escape to relax?
I love to take the one I love and head to the most luxurious and remote vacation spot that one can possible find and just stay there and bask in the ambiance, and the aura of that special someone you are with. 
 

What drives your ambition?
The fear of failure. Not living up to the expectations of those who hold you in the highest esteem.  Knowing that I must always try to be successful in life and attain my dreams are constantly on my mind and works as a catalysing agent to me.
 
 
What is your signature dish?
I have a natural inclination toward pork dishes. I have mastered numerous ways in executing many different styles and preparations of pork. Two dishes I am famous for is my authentic Chinese style roasted crispy skin pork belly that takes me two days to prep and another dish is my tri-spiced seared pork loin roulade stuffed with cornbread, goat cheese and cranberries and served with an apricot chutney.
 
How do you motivate your team?
Positivity and constant reminding that we do what we do because we love it. Rewards are always a great way to channel motivation for your staff and hence we should always lead by example to achieve the goal ahead. 
 
 
How do you think restaurants should be rated?
Restaurants should be rated over a period of 2 years by a committee who conducts market research on diners, critics and social feedback. Over this period, I think one will be able to properly asses and comprehensively rate a level of service, a standard of food and consistency from a food establishment. 
 
 
If you had to build the best kitchen team who would be in your kitchen all stars?
I admire, Bobby Flay’s showmanship and marketing talent.
Thomas Keller’s classic ability to showcase food in its most divine and subtle way.
Claus Meyer for ingenuity and creative innovation. 
Marco Pierre White who possesses an enigmatic approach to food.