Experience San Diego's Farmers Markets with Chef Jason
The Foodventure craze that's sweeping our city.
Images Courtesy of CookwithJason.com.
Foodventure with Chef Jason
The Farmer’s Market Foodventure with Chef Jason is an all inclusive afternoon of tasting our way through beautiful Solana Beach. A Farmer’s Market Foodventure includes a guided farmer’s market tour, fresh-pressed olive oil tasting, wine tasting or craft brew tour/tasting and a hands-on cooking class with a multi-course dinner paired with wine or beer. In addition, participants are given discounts at the Temecula Olive Oil Company, Carruth Cellars, and Culture Brewery if they wish to purchase anything to take home. Read more from our exclusive interview with Chef Jason and how you can join on the food venture.
What drew you to being a chef and starting these Foodventures?
My background is as diverse as my cooking style. I have been very lucky throughout my life to travel all around the world. I even had a chance to live in Vienna, Austria (playing professional football) long enough to not feel like a tourist. My cooking is a direct reflection of my fascination of global cuisine and farm to table. Although I’m not classically trained as a chef, I believe my life experience and dedication to expanding my culinary knowledge and skill has given me more of an education than any classroom ever could.
I have a Master’s Degree in Education and taught for many years. Helping others simplify and learn complicated skills is what I’m trained to do. What I do now is a culmination of my life so far. I cook, I teach, I entertain, and I learn. I truly believe that my enthusiasm towards food, flavor, and culinary exploration can be contagious. So too is my willingness to try new things and step outside my cooking comfort zone to discover tastes and flavors that I never knew existed before. And I am a firm believer in using local, fresh ingredients as the basis of every meal when possible.
What is "Cook with Jason" and what inspired it?
The idea of “Cook with Jason” is, much like the name itself, very simple. It’s me doing what I love: cooking and teaching. I’ve always had an interest in education and helping people learn new things. I wanted to create a culinary experience that went beyond a traditional cooking class. By combining the science of where our food comes from and focusing on fresh, local ingredients, I can show how to prepare simple dishes packed with flavor that are healthier and taste great. Cooking doesn’t have to be complex. My wife and I have traveled through Europe and loved the idea of creating a European-style culinary experience in Solana Beach around utilizing locally-sourced food and products. Thus, the "Farmer’s Market Foodventure" was born. We hand-selected the Solana Beach Farmer’s Market because of the passion and premium products being offered by local farmers and purveyors, the Temecula Olive Oil Company for its locally fresh-pressed oils and vinegars, Carruth Cellars (an award-winning urban winery that produces its wine right onsite) and Culture Brewing Co (who also makes craft brew onsite).
My classes are quite diverse, with themes like Tuscany, South American, Belgium/European, etc. My intention is to create dishes that a home cook might not try on their own, like Moules Frites (Belgian-style mussels and french fries). Whether teaching, exploring or hosting private events, one thing remains consistent: cooking with me.
What is different between the Solana Beach and Encinitas locations for “Cook with Jason?"
I teach and host events in the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle. They have two locations. Their original location is in Solana Beach. The Cottage (as they call it) is a quaint-looking building that seems to be plucked right out of Tuscany. The Cottage is covered in grapevines and surrounded by a herb and vegetable garden that is maintained by a master gardener. The finale dinner is enjoyed out on the patio on linen-covered tables.
The Encinitas location is more of a “traditional” teaching kitchen. Although the garden is much, MUCH bigger and also cared for by a master gardener, the kitchen itself is newer and much larger than the other property and feels more like a space that someone taking the class may have experienced before. Plus, the Encinitas location doesn’t allow alcohol, so no wine pairings. This location is perfect for a more skill-centric class and classes with children.
I’m also available for private events.
What is unique about the partnerships on the food adventure tour? (Temecula Oil Company, Culture Brewing, etc.)
At Temecula Olive Oil Company, the Foodventure offers a private tasting, in which we also talk about how to cook and pair freshly pressed locally grown olive oils and vinegar from the best the region has to offer. Temecula Olive Oil harvests their own olives and cold presses the olives to produce fantastic olive oil. They press other ingredients with the olives to make unique concoctions such as Citrus Reserve Olive Oil with Vanilla & Fig Balsamic or Olivia Olive Oil with California Balsamico Bianco Oo-La-Pomegranate.
Depending on your customized menu of the day, the tour includes tastings at Culture Brewing Co with a flight of 3-4 three oz. beers with unique microbrewery blends made on-site such as their Berliner Weiss style sour medley with apple, grape and cherry, a beautiful Session Amarillo IPA or a classic Amber Ale with toasty caramel notes. Culture Brewing Co. makes all of their craft brew right on-site. Cool, vibe with large beer tanks and funky artwork. During our tasting, we also talk about different beer pairings and how to cook with beer.
If wine is on the menu, the Foodventure tour will take you to the award-winning Carruth Cellars for a flight tasting of 4-5 wines also developed on-site such as their Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Fourplay Blend and Gold Medal Sauvignon Blanc among others. At Carruth, the tasting director provides information about where the grapes were grown and the different nuances of each wine in the flight. We also talk about wine pairings and cooking with wine. This urban winery has barrels to the ceiling with a Tuscan vibe. The new tasting room will open on Cedros Ave. later this year.
What other cooking classes does Chef Jason offer?
Currently, I offer a monthly demo class for 90 minutes on select Wednesdays at the Encinitas Center for a Healthy Lifestyle, with fun themed classes like Farm to Pizza (creating three rustic-style pizzas using a Baking Steel, Pizza Stone and a Cast Iron Skillet), or One-Chicken-Three-Meals (roast chicken, creating world-class stock for chicken soup, chicken enchiladas). We focus on fresh ingredients to utilize in multiple dishes. It’s a twist on a traditional cooking class because we maximize the ingredients to its fullest potential.
I’m offering a series of holiday classes for kids ages 10-14 on the last Saturday of November (Nov 28) and the first two Saturdays in December (5 and 12). Parents will drop off their child for a four-hour cooking class (10 am – 2 pm) for a fun-filled afternoon of learning how to prepare a signature dish utilizing fresh, local ingredients. While they (parents) holiday shop or enjoys some time to themselves, their sons or daughters will be exploring the expansive garden with me, learning proper knife skills, kitchen tips & tricks, and preparing a meal. All participants will be fed lunch, and upon pick-up at 2 pm, each participant will have a complete entree to take home and cook for the family dinner! Complete details are on the website. Each week is a different entree and there are a price savings if an individual joins for all 3 classes.
What is next for Chef Jason?
I’m in the process of adding more Foodventures in different locations throughout North County San Diego. Imagine if, in addition to meandering through one of the areas many farmer’s markets, we head down to the Carlsbad Aquafarm to pick our own mussels and oysters? How cool is that? It’s coming.
Cook with Jason is absolutely customizable. We’ve recently begun offering additional culinary experiences due to special requests, including holiday parties, Corporate team-building events, wedding party adventures, book club “themed” experiences, Family Foodventures, and more. I even plan to take groups of fanatic food fans abroad to experience, first hand, how food and culture are intertwined (maybe Tuscany?). There’s even been a talk of filming some of this. I’m just beginning. The world is my oyster… on the half shell.
You can visit Chef Jason at his website and on social media @cookwithjason.