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April 1, 2011

Featured SCENE Chef: Jason Chaney

Posted by John Ennis

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Chef Jason Chaney
The Barbed Rose
113 E Sealy St. (Alvin)
281-585-2272

Background / Experience: By the age of 7, Jason Chaney already understood his calling to the culinary arena. At 15, he volunteered at the Redwood Grill to gain valuable exposure under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Shelly Drought.

By 17, he received his acceptance to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY, where he began his studies in 1999. Later that year Chaney made his way to the famous Commander’s Palace in New Orleans where he worked various stations under Executive Chef Jamie Shannon as a culinary extern from the CIA.

After completing his Bachelor degree and graduating with honors, Chaney traveled to Europe. Living in Le Bouveret, Switzerland, he worked as an Assistant Production Chef and English language instructor at the Institut Hotelier “Cesar Ritz.” Following this experience, Chaney packed his belongings and moved to the town of Jesi, Italy, where he enrolled in a professional Slow Food-sponsored immersion course dedicated to the instruction of Regional Italian Cuisine.

Upon returning from Europe, Jason worked for Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa where he labored under the command of former Executive Chef, Jesse Llapitan, and the current Executive Chef Jeff Everts. In the summer of 2006, Jason, who was only 25 at the time, accepted the position as Executive Chef of the Skyline Bar & Grill. In February of 2007, Chaney was recognized as the “Best Over the Top Professional Chef” during the Let the Guys Cook charity event, which was held at the Houstonian and benefited Cancer Counseling, Inc. Skyline was named best bar with a view by Texas Monthly, as well as a multiple recipient of Citysearch’s Best of designation, and Most Romantic Restaurant by the Houston Chronicle.

In October of 2008, Jason departed from the restaurant scene to fulfill a more personal craving in the ministry field. He soon opened the Bay Area Christian Church [BACC] Pantry Kitchen. Using his professional knowledge and relationships, he gave his customers the opportunity to purchase restaurant quality meat and produce for a fraction of the price of typical grocery stores.

He used the product passing through his kitchen to help and encourage those who had lost their jobs and were struggling financially as a result of the economic crunch.
Chaney’s favorite days of the week, however, were those that he would prepare hot food and deliver it into the hands of the Houston homeless community. Over the course of a year, Jason was able to develop impactful relationships with some of Houston’s most marginalized citizens. These relationships and conversations had a powerful impact on Jason’s cultural, community, and financial values. It is his belief that a life lived loving and serving others is the most profound and rewarding way to live. It’s this kind of servant’s heart, passion for the professional kitchen, and 15 years experience that Jason now brings to the kitchen of the Barbed Rose Steakhouse and Seafood Co.

Specialty: My formal specialization is in Regional Italian cuisine, but what I really enjoy cooking is a blend of Mediterranean, Gulf Coast, and Asian.

Signature Dish: My favorite dish that I ever made was Scallops and Oxtails. It consisted of pan seared diver scallops, with braised oxtail meat which had been pulled off the bone.  It was served with crispy fingerling potato “tostones” that had been fried crispy in duck fat and topped with an airy porcini foam.  It was on the menu at the Skyline Bar & Grill for over a year.  It was time consuming to produce, and just as difficult to pick up, but completely worth it at the table.

Have you ever prepared a meal for anyone famous or infamous? At the Houstonian I remember making breakfast for Sean Penn, dinner for Matthew McConaughey and David Grohl  (not at the same time), multiple lunches for Kenneth Lay (someone else always paid the tab), lunches for Jose Lima, a reception for Roger Clements which included a whole list of Astros players. While in Switzerland, I cooked for a number of Cuban government officials (but not Fidel), it was something that struck me as odd, considering something like that would never happen in the States. While at Skyline, a reservation was made for Michael Jordan and security preparations were made, but were ultimately canceled. One time while feeding the homeless in downtown Houston, I fed a man who had an athletic build, and spent some time talking with my friend; come to find out, he was a former MLB player for Cincinnati who lost his pitching career after taking a line drive to his pitching arm. It was such a revelation. You never know who you might find living on the streets.

Please share one special cooking tip or technique for our readers: When blanching tomatoes to peel them, most people will put them in a pot of boiling water for 15-20 seconds and then plunge them into an ice bath.  The skins fall away and the flesh underneath is pretty mushy and over cooked. I learned from a coworker that if you put the tomatoes in ice water first, then put them in a pot of boiling water for only 5 seconds, then back into the ice water, then repeat the boiling water for 5 more seconds, and finish in the ice bath. The skins will come off easily and leave all of the flesh immediately under the skin (which by the way, contains most of the flavonoids) perfectly intact. They will look like perfectly raw tomatoes, only with a closer inspection will you notice that the skin is gone.

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