August 2021 Chef of the Month – James Couch (Chef Jaycee)

We’re happy to introduce our August Chef of the Month, James Couch (Chef Jaycee)! Chef Jaycee is currently a Sous Chef for Compass Group in Tysons, Virginia, and the owner and executive chef of Chef Jaycee LLC, serving the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. Ever since he was a child, he was interested in cooking and found himself checking out cookbooks in the library instead of standard children’s books! He then went on to culinary school at JNA Institution of Culinary Arts in Philadelphia, PA and after graduation, he pursued a degree in Management at James Madison University. Chef Jaycee is a strong-willed, passionate chef. He has a keen eye for developing creative plates and encourages others to always keep an open mind and never stop learning. He’s cooked for various clients including Ambassadors to the United States and CNN news anchors. As a private Chef, he’s catered private meals to NFL players, CEOs and White House officials! We’re so impressed by Chef Jaycee’s story and can’t wait to share his delicious recipes.

1. Where were you born? 

I was born on the Fort Lewis Army Base in Seattle, Washington. My dad was in the Army and we moved to several places throughout my life.

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 

I am a Sous Chef for Compass Group in Tysons, Virginia. I am also the owner and executive chef of Chef Jaycee LLC serving the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area.

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?

My favorite kitchen tool is a Vitamix because I love making beautiful vibrant sauces and smooth purees, and a Vitamix helps get the job done perfectly.

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?

I would say sight is my sharpest sense. I have a keen eye for developing creative plates and can quickly notice if anything is out of place on the plate itself or in pictures. Because of my sharp sense of sight, I’m able to react to things quickly – people are often so surprised at how fast I react to catch something that is falling!

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?

Work ethic and attitude means everything in the kitchen. Also, I would advise to never think you know everything and don’t have anything to learn. Even if you have your way of doing something, always be open to the point of view of others.

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?

Every chef should know mise en place. Mise en place is a French term meaning to have all your ingredients in order. Not having your ingredients in order can easily throw off your entire meal.

7. What does good food mean to you?

Good food means the food tastes just as great as it looks. Good food gives you a feeling of excitement and has you walking away from the table looking forward to the next time you can taste the dish. It can take you back to when you were a kid, or even as deep as feeling it in your soul.

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit? 

To me, the jacket is the most important piece of my chef outfit. The jacket itself has to fit just right – not too baggy, long enough, and has spaces for my thermometer, pens, etc. When I think I look good, I feel good about myself and give off a positive energy.

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 

I love to work with anything acidic like lemon, limes, vinegar, and wine. Acid can be used in so many different ways to elevate a dish, from tenderizing meats to adding clean, fresh, bold flavors to your sauces.

10. Favorite city to dine out in? 

New Orleans, Louisiana has been my favorite city to dine out in. I love seafood and Creole food and love that they pack all their food with great flavor and seasonings.

11. Best dish you have ever made? 

My best dish is Grilled Porcini Crusted Beef Tenderloin and Butter Poached Lobster Tail with Truffle Potato Puree, Roasted Asparagus, Port Jus, and Microgreens. Surf and turf is one of my favorite dishes to make and this dish specifically always brings out the best reactions from my clients, which is one of the reasons I love to cook.

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 

Top Ramen and Sandwiches! After being around food all week, I want the most simple and quick meals.

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 

President Obama and his family. I look up to him because he has showed me that anything is possible with hard work. In my eyes, it would be an honor to cook for him.

14. What are some of the difficulties you’d say that chefs most often encounter?

Chefs need to be strong both physically and mentally in order to deal with the pressure from your job. Difficulties of a chef include staff calling out, food budgets, long hours, and keeping your composure when everything could be going wrong. As a chef, you often have to accept criticism on your food because no chef could ever appease to everyone’s palette.

15. What made you decide to become a chef?

I have always been interested in food. In elementary school, while other kids were checking out Magic School Bus and Goosebumps books, I would check out cookbooks from Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse. I was raised by a single mother, who worked 16 hour shifts at night and sometimes left my brother, sister, and I to cook for ourselves. I would go in the kitchen and try to make recipes with Top Ramen. When I left for culinary school, I found out my grandfather was also Chef, though he passed away before I could meet him. Knowing this solidified that the culinary world was for me.

Connect with our August 2021 Chef of the Month
Instagram: @chefjayceee
Website: https://www.chefjaycee.com/
Facebook: @infoChefJaycee 

Shop Chef Coats

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