Young Guns: Chef Jason Schofield 

Executive Chef at Schofield Restaurant Group

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At 15 years old, Jason Schofield cooked his first Thanksgiving dinner, solo – that's the kind of kid he was. Now, he's getting primed for the opening of Maddey's Craft & Cru, a joint that'll sling artisan pizzas, seasonal bites and craft brews. From his start as a dishwasher in Tampa, Schofield has built a kitchen philosophy alongside his consulting business, garnering praise for his work at Wolfies Pizzamia and White Wolf Café, part of his background in corporate culinary development.

"There's more than one way to climb a mountain," says Schofield. "In a chef's terms, there are many different ways to execute a dish through textures, flavors, ingredients and cooking methods." Schofield believes the secret to his kitchen success is finding the right combination of those things to create a dish that speaks to his guests. He's forward-thinking, with an eye toward the future and how he can adapt to keep diners interested, including sustainable practices, population growth, carbon emissions and other big-picture ideas. His travel and work in Turkey and the Mediterranean gave him a global perspective on craft.

"It's all about the senses," he says. "They take us back to a moment in time, and that's our job as chefs, to help you relive life's great moments through food." Sometimes those moments happen at home but end up on menus: The star of a recent dinner party was an impromptu dessert napoleon layered with Chantilly cream, crème de cassis gastrique and macerated berries, topped with crushed Kit Kat bars, toasted cumin and smoked paprika. When Maddey's opens, find it on the dessert menu as the "Kat-hattan."

A spirit of play imbues Schofield's work – he calls it his "I-Am-ness," getting in touch with that child-like place where fun and exploration are paramount. "I yearn to get to that free-spirited point where you aren't bound by what you can or can't do, and what people say is or isn't traditional," he explains. Surrounding himself with creativity and talent inspires him daily.

"My dad wasn't a great communicator, but we understood each other through food we made and ate together," says Schofield. Eating at the state's newest and most exciting eateries at an early age opened his eyes to food's inherent excitement. "My dad was my role model, and of course you want to do everything your role model does, so I ate whatever he ate," he says. Above all, Schofield wants to make his family proud as a chef. He's well on his way.

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