Acclaimed chef Jason Franey collects James Beard nominations like your weird aunt collects Beanie Babies. In other words, he has a lot. But that doesn’t mean the thrice-nominated Franey—named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2011 and a Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef in 2013—isn’t afraid to switch things up. From Palm Beach to San Francisco and New York City (where he worked alongside chef Daniel Humm at Michelin three-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park) the chef recently made the jump from Seattle’s award-winning Canlis restaurant to Monterey’s Restaurant 1833, where he’s helping put the coastal California town on the culinary map. We spoke with the chef (unlike our Aunt, who we really need to call) about canned salsa, his cooking staples, and the one band he wishes he could cook for.
1. What’s an underrated food city and why?
Monterey—there’s up-and-coming chefs and the best ingredients in the country.
2. What food trend are you tired of?
Food trends come and go and cronuts have had their moment.
3. How do you feel about Yelp?
It’s both good and bad but I don’t have any strong feelings.
4. If your kitchen is burning down, what’s the one gadget you save?
I would have to save my cake tester and Kramer knife. I keep a cake tester on me at all times and use it for so many things, from checking the temperature of meat to the doneness of vegetables. As far as the Kramer knife goes, Bob Kramer is one of the best blade-smiths in the world and I just love the knife! Every chef needs to have a good knife at all times and Bob works with you to pick out and customize each component.
5. Your guilty pleasure food?
Herdez canned salsa—I still make fresh salsa but if I’m really craving it, this is what I go for. I also can’t resist a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
6. If you could cook for one person—whom would it be?
The Slackers—the ska band. It’s my favorite band. I grew up listening to them and see them every time they come to the city where I’m living.
7. What are five ingredients that are always in your pantry?
Sambal, mayo, kimchi, Dijon mustard, Buffalo Trace Whiskey
8. What’s the biggest mistake home cooks make?
Having no patience. It’s a very high-paced environment and when things go wrong, I find that a lot of amateur chefs don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to working with people and problem solving. They need to stand back, assess the situation and figure out how to deal with it. There is always something we can do to make it better—there is always a solution if you have the patience to think about it.
9. What’s the best advice you ever received?
“If you want it, you will get it. Never stop trying.“ This advice was given to me by Daniel Humm.
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