Chef Jesse Jones is a rising star on the culinary scene and he is just getting started. His Southern Cooking with a Country French twist has earned him celebrity clients, a loyal following who love his style as much as his dishes, and victories at cooking competitions, including Ultimate Chef of Bergen County, NJ in 2010. In Northern NJ he’s gaining a reputation as a celebrity chef, between catering for Tyler Perry at 98.7 Kiss FM, posting recipes on The Alternative Press, hosting Chef Jesse Live cooking demos and opening a pop-up restaurant serving prix-fixe Sunday dinners in South Orange, NJ in 2012. He goes by “Chef Jesse” and to know him is to believe in him. His charisma and natural storytelling personality attract people near and far to his unique style.
“Chef Jesse” attended Hudson Community Culinary Arts Program in Jersey City, NJ where he learned his technique. But he inherited his passion for cooking from his mother, Mrs. Mildred Jones, and his grandmother, Mrs. Hannah Jones. Under their tutelage, following them around in their home kitchen in Snow Hill, North Carolina, Chef Jesse honed his culinary vision and developed his flair for New Carolina Cuisine. He was raised in the south, providing inspiration for his southern style, and later in Newark, NJ, offering him access to top training opportunities at culinary schools in the kitchens with the area’s top Master Chefs.
With the help of his mother, he got his first job working at ARAMARK. Chef Jesse started out washing dishes and quickly moved up the ranks in the back of the house. He blazed through salad bars, as third cook, as sous-chef and then was soon managing a staff of 60 at AT&T in Bedminster. After a day spent in food services, you couldn’t get Chef Jesse out of the kitchen. He apprenticed with Chef Robert Holzer at the now-closed Chanticler in Short Hills, NJ. Chef Jesse spent fifteen years at ARAMARK before leaving to receive a business certificate from Katherine Gibbs School for Business Management. While earning his degree, Chef Jesse worked a second job with Master Chef Dennis Foy at Town Square Restaurant in Chatham, NJ.
Get the recipe for Chef Jesse’s Slow Braised Lamb Shanks in the new cookbook Toques in Black. Available now!
Over the next seven years, Chef Jesse perfected his culinary skills and French technique under some of the top NJ chefs. In addition to Master Chef Foy, Chef Jesse furthered his chef training in the kitchen with Master Chef David Drake at Stage House Tavern in Scotch Plains, NJ and Master Chef Craig Shelton at The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station, NJ. After several years of working in top kitchens, Chef Jesse opened his own. He ran Heart & Soul Restaurant in South Orange for three years, 2003 – 2006.
In June 2006 he decided to focus on his own catering business, Chef Jesse Concepts, which has grown over the past five years to include high profile clients such as Brenda Blackmon, John Legend, Vince Curatola, “Sunny” Hostin, Jim Jones, Tyler Perry, Michelle Williams and Harriette Cole. Chef Jesse’s catering company continues to thrive and he is quickly become a household name. When Chef Jesse moved back up to NJ from Carolina as a teenager, he brought his Southern Country flair with him. And he returned to North Carolina whenever possible. He was so inspired by Carolina cooking, what he refers to as the original farm to table setting. It wasn’t just collard greens and ribs – he would pick his greens in the field and select his hog from the farmer down the road that he’s known for years. This combination of fresh local ingredients with bold flavors has really set Chef Jesse apart from other chefs and provided a distinct new Caroline Cuisine that is approachable and familiar, yet bold and innovative all at once.
Chef Jesse entertains while he cooks, which explains his success in the front of the house in addition to the back burners. His innovative style, fine technique and personal storytelling make him a natural when cooking live. He has won many cooking competitions including the Summit Wine & Food Festival in 2011, where he took 2nd place in the people’s choice and 3rd place for judge’s choice. In 2010 he claimed the coveted title Ultimate Chef of Bergen County, NJ where he was challenged to use rice in all 4 dishes. Chef Jesse won the title with creative approach including blending rice into his crawfish soufflé served with blackened grouper and a light Creole sauce of roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers and white wine, and spiking rice pudding with rum to make the ice cream he offered with a praline blackberry cake. Other titles include Best Overall and Best Entree in the 2007 Taste of Essex County, NY; 2007 Top Chef “Men Cooking for Change” Harlem, NY; 2007 Great Chefs Night “Best Entree” at Maplewood NJ Lions Club; and Battle of the Chefs “Best Hot Dish 2006″ at Katie’s House.
You can catch Chef Jesse Live all over North Jersey. In addition to cooking competitions, you’ll find him at cooking demos at Bloomingdales, Savory Spice Shop, fundraisers and private parties. He is very generous and active in his community, as seen in his participation in fundraisers for March of Dimes, Share our Strength Taste of the Nation, Spina Bifida Association and the Marshall & Jefferson Schools Spring Auction 2006. If you haven’t seen him in person, you may have seen him recently on VH1s “Love & Hip Hop,” and if you missed that you might catch the re-run on Mondays. You can read his reviews in the Star Ledger, The Alternative Press and the Paramus Press. And, he’s media friendly too – he’s been featured on radio shows including 98.7 Kiss FM, Hot 97, two hungry women, The Ed Hitzel Show, or Basil with Chef Jennifer Booker. Check out his apple cider brined pork tenderloin from one of his many appearances on News 12 New Jersey, and his voodoo shrimp when he appeared on Fox 5 Good Day Café.
Chef Jesse lives in Irvington, NJ with his wife, 2 boys and Zeus, his Italian Mastif. When he’s taking a break from cooking, you can find him enjoying a Chili Dog from Texas Weiner or John’s in Newark. He also loves Veal Oxtails and Osso Buco. He insists that fish obviously need tarragon, and whips up a bright nutritious Creole spinach dish to pair with any of his southern specialties.