Hot From The Kettle ™: The Divinest Sense of Chef Jesse Jone

by Melody Kettle

"It's Divine!" Those are the words Chef Jesse Jones, wants to hear each time you enjoy one of his meals. The chef's style of cooking, New Carolina Cuisine, is a French influenced interpretation of Southern heritage cooking that incorporates healthy alternatives into standard southern recipes, but without compromising the gastronomic comfort factor that makes southern fare so satisfying.

Jesse Jones was born in Newark and raised in North Carolina. He then returned to Newark where he followed his passion for cooking, encouraged by his mother's words, "[y]ou know what's best for yourself. Keep moving." And move he did. Jesse worked for ARAMARK, where he became Director of Food Services. He then honed his craft further under the tutelage of French Chef, Dennis Foy at Town Square in Chatham. Most recently, Jesse was crowned Ultimate Chef of Bergen County, at the annual Chef Central competition in Paramus.

Unlike chefs who opt out of the kitchen when they're not at work, Chef Jesse thrives on cooking for people, and is inspired and encouraged by pleasing those he feeds.

When I go back south, it's my honor to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for my family. You can't get a Southern woman to sit down, but when I cook, my mother, my aunts, they all stop, sit, and eat.

That's exactly what I did when Chef Jesse prepared Seared Scallops over Baby Arugula Salad tossed in his signature Apple Cider Vinaigrette. Want to see how it's done? Watch the video:

If you'd like some New Carolina Cuisine in your home, Chef Jesse's catering business, Southern Epicurean Delights, offers tasting menus of three, five, eight, or twelve courses. The tasting menus are skillfully mastered recipes, incorporating seasonal ingredients, each custom created for the client. Among the Southern Epicurean Delights offerings are Blackened Scallops with Oyster Spoon Bread and Cranberries, Southern style Duck Confit, Pecan Crusted Rack of Lamb, and Pulled Pork Strudel Medallions served with an apricot reduction and red onion marmalade. Chef Jesse will also work with you to create a custom menu to suit specific needs, wants, or dietary restrictions. If you happen to be a home gardener, Chef Jesse would be glad to incorporate your produce into the menu. Or if you're a wine enthusiasts, Chef Jesse will work with you to create a menu paired to the wines you would like to offer.

If you really want to treat your guests with southern hospitality, invite the Chef Jesse Show, Cooking from the Heart, into your home, which includes a live hands-on cooking demo, followed by dinner, while listening to the lovely sounds of Jackie Jones Band.The dinner consists of a 3-course meal with dessert.

Things are heating up for the Chef, he'll be at the Summit Wine and Food Festival on September 24. Also in attendance will be the new Iron Chef Jose Garces and Simply Delicioso host Ingrid Hoffman. Chef Jesse will also be teaching HEART AND SOUL: Southern BBQ at the South Orange Maplewood Adult School

What does the future hold for Chef Jesse?

My quest is to continue to reinvent myself, cooking, researching, and helping minority businesses grow, and encourage our young to become interested in the Culinary Arts.

How were the scallops? I do declare, DIVINE!


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