Chef Jesus currently works at the Sea Fire Grill in midtown Manhattan, he attended cooking school in Spain before moving to America. Chef Jesus is a magician when it comes top cooking and plating. He transforms the simplest of ingredients; swirling together playful combinations onto plates.
The Chef’s Connection: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Jesus Nunez: “I wanted to be a photographer, I remember telling my dad and he didn’t understand, photographers make no money! So I eventually got wrapped into doing AC insulation in the morning then attended culinary school at night.”
TCC: What is your favorite thing about being a chef?
JN: “I’m more of a chef that likes to create and is about artistry. I will see a paper crumbled in the street and when I can go into the kitchen I can use my mind to recreate what I see. I can play with the ingredients; maybe phyllo as the paper maybe mushrooms as the cobblestones. I will take an ingredient and think what can I create with this.”
TCC: Did you have an ‘aha’ moment when you knew you wanted to be a chef?
JN: “I worked with this Michelin starred chef and he let me play with colors and textures and create and that’s when I knew.”
TCC: Best advice you ever got?
JN: “I didn’t like to eat, I cooked with my mind. For example I would see blue cheese. It’s blue it’s white. It’s funky. A pop of color and maybe sweetness I would add strawberry and some honey because it made sense. Then one day my friend came to me saying a crisis a lot of people had were people who had talent but didn’t use it. It’s like a baby you sit in front of the piano and he begins to play and as he grows he’s very talented at the piano, but when he’s older he learns the keys and the notes so he can continue to grow his talent. My friend told me “you need to understand why you cook.”
TCC: What is your favorite ingredient?
JN: “Olive oil. I always cook with olive oil and never butter.”
TCC: What ingredient turns you off the most?
JN: “I don’t have a problem with any ingredient, every ingredient is valid. You can cook with any ingredient.”
TCC: What is your favorite tool in the kitchen?
JN: “A squeeze bottle!”
TCC: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not cooking?
JN: “Paint, I recently moved to a house in New Jersey, and my wife said you me ‘ there’s a attic and there’s a basement you can take either one and do whatever you want to it’ It’s my new painting studio.”
TCC: What would you like to do before you get too old to do it?
JN: “Be rich.”
TCC: How do you deal with stress?
JN: “I try not to get to excited or sad; my way to deal with stress is nothing just remain calm.”
TCC: Who would you like to meet?
JN: “I would love to meet Frank Gehry, the architect.”
TCC: Who would you like to cook for?
JN: “I would like to cook for Jackson Pollock.”
TCC: Is there a chef you strive to be as good as?
JN: “No, I try to have my own style, I want to be myself.”
TCC: What’s the hardest thing for you to learn?
JN: “I don’t try to learn anything, as I get older I don’t attempt to learn new techniques, I just do my thing.”
TCC: How did becoming a chef change your life?
JN: “I was thinking of why chefs are different, because being a chef changes you. You work holidays, when you come home or spend time with your friends people always expect you to cook things, it’s not a profession it’s a lifestyle.”
TCC: What is the highlight of your career so far?
JN: “Opening the restaurant in New York. I came to NY not speaking any English so people thought i was stupid because I couldn’t communicate with them, no one knew who I was, and a year later I opened my own restaurant.”
TCC: What is your goal?
JN: “What I want I don’t have yet, I don’t know it yet. So I don’t have a goal I’m just enjoying each day.”
TCC: Cooking tip?
JN: “Everything with bacon is better!”