Top Chef: Jouvens Jean “The Chef with a Jujitsu Belt”

2014
Chef Jouvens Jean

This Q&A first published in the Spring 2015 print edition.

Get to know “Chef Jouvens Jean”

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: In Nassau, Bahamas.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
A: I was a 16-year-old prep cook and witnessed how the Executive Chef commanded the attention and praise of the entire restaurant on a packed night.

Q: What is your favorite food memory?
A: I was 9 years old living in Haiti, and ate a seafood dish that blew my mind.

Q: Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
A: I was trained in the school of hard knocks; it was brutal.

Q: How do you get your inspiration?
A: I’m inspired by everything I see, touch, taste, smell and imagine.

Q: Favorite kitchen equipment or gadget?
A: “Plate, Gadget: My imagination.”

Jouvens Jean
Jouvens Jean

Q: Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
A: Don’t follow exact recipes. Cook what you like and use what you have in your pantry.

Q: Best cooking tip for a novice just getting into the business?
A: Pay attention to details. Open your eyes and ears but keep your mouth closed.

Q: Funniest kitchen incident?
A: When I opened my restaurant Sawa I was in the weeds so bad that I had an out of body experience. It’s hilarious to me now, but not at that particular moment.

Q: Who in the food world do you most admire?
A: No chef in particular, I mostly admire the young, hungry cooks because they inspire me and remind me of that pure unspoiled passion for the business.

Q: What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with?
A: For me, the most challenging ingredient is the people you work with.

Q: Do you have a favorite wine?
A: Chateau Montelena The Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
A: Five years: James Beard Award, Ten years: Chef Joujea Bear Foundation worldwide.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A: Ride my motorcycle, play my guitar, do jiujitsu, play golf and spend time with my family.

Q: What do you most love about your career as a Chef?
A: The ability to teach and inspire up-and-coming cooks.

Q: What’s your ‘Last Supper’ meal?
A: Braised oxtail, Haitian style.

Q: How can people book you?
A: Email me: jouvensjean1@hotmail.com

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