Chef Jordan Scott
I can’t even begin to explain just how proud I am of my friend, Chef Jordan Scott. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten to know him and his lovely wife Jackie, and each year we all just grow closer. Since I photographed their wedding last May, a lot has happened! We have all grown as friends… and business owners. Jordan is in the beginning of an amazing journey! So would you like to know more about him and his professional story?! Excellent! Because this is what we are talking about today!
Jordan is a huge believer in being community minded and buying local. Because of this- we headed on over to Borealis Farm to get some photographs of Jordan! In the near future, we plan on capturing more of him, in his element! (Perhaps in the kitchen!?) Either way- please enjoy reading more about him. And… support his endeavor by sharing this post!
So how did you first get into cooking? Is it something you have always loved?
I started when I was young, probably 7 years old or so. Every Thursday our family would have “children’s night” where my brother and I got to cook for the family. Before long it ended up being me cooking for the family. Once I realized how much I enjoyed that I would also get up with my father on Sundays and cook brunch with him for the family most weeks.
What about professionally? Did you know at that time you wanted to become a chef?
No, I actually thought I would become a lawyer. When I was thirteen I moved from my father’s house to my mothers and realized that if I wanted to spend money I needed to get a job. I worked in a pizza place in Marlborough NH every day after school and occasionally on weekends. I got to do everything from making the sauce and the dough to cleaning tables and bathrooms. The only thing I wasn’t allowed to do was pour beer. I’ve been working in professional kitchens ever since.
With starting at such a young age, did you end up going to school for training as well?
I did actually, there was a vocational program in the Keene High School that I attended for three years. It was a certificate program. The students run a restaurant that is open to the public. They are taught classical cooking techniques along with the basics of what it takes to run a restaurant. After I graduated high school I went to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
Did you enjoy it in SF? What ended up bringing you back to NH?
I did enjoy SF! It was a really great school. I got a job working at an Italian restaurant in North Beach while I was there. I got to experience a lot of great food and had opportunities I wouldn’t have ever found around here. When I graduated culinary school the owners of the restaurant group I worked for told me they were opening a second location in Austin TX and wanted to know if I would move there to help them open that location. I decided to do so and trained the pastry staff, that what my main position was at the time, in the new location.
It went so well I ended up helping them open up 3 more restaurants! Once was a California/French cuisine restaurant known as Bing Crosby’s in San Diego. Another was a Mexican restaurant known as Maria Maria’s in Phoenix. and then a second Maria Maria’s in Austin. After I had lived in Austin for about 4 years I realized I missed the seasons of New England and started to plan on moving back home.
Wow, so how old were you at this time, and what did you end up doing when you got back?
I moved back when I was 22. And got a job shortly after at a small restaurant in Gill MA known as the Gill Tavern. I started off as the prep and salad cook, but within 6 months the chef at the time left, and I was asked to take over as the Chef of the restaurant.
How did you feel about this? It sounds like you had a fair amount of experience in restaurants but not in running one.
It was a bit scary, to be honest. But I had a lot of support. The manager at the time, Laura Carboni, was a great friend and a lot of help, as was the owner, Alden Booth. We worked together on menu development and were constantly evaluating how everything worked together. My time at the Gill Tavern had a greater impact on both my style of cooking as well as my sense of the moral and ethical responsibilities that a Chef carries. We sourced as much as we could from local farms, in season this accounted for at least eighty percent of what we brought in. During my time there I also helped build raised beds in the backyard to help produce more on site and started changing the menu 4 times a year to better reflect what was available. We also ran wine dinners that ranged from 5-9 courses every 3 months to highlight different specialties that we were excited by.
What brought you back to Keene? That sounds like a dream.
towards the end of my time at The Tavern, I realized I was lacking a sense of family. I was so driven and doing so much I had little time for much else. I met a woman who changed all of that for me. She was lying near keene so I moved back here and got a job running Nicola’s. After a year at Nicola’s, I took a job as the Executive Chef at Odelay. About a year later, after Jaclyn and I had been dating for about two years we got married, which was when I got to meet you!
That’s great, do you ever want to own your own restaurant?
I do actually, I have been working closely with the owners of Machina Arts, Rebecca Hamilton and Danya Landis, to finalize a business plan we have been working on to open a restaurant, venue, and art gallery that will be located in Keene. It is the mission of Machina Arts and one I believe in wholeheartedly, to positively transform the community through arts and culture.
You mentioned community as a mission for Machina Arts, and one that you believe in as well. Are you doing anything currently to help work in the community?
I am actually! About 2 years ago I joined Luca Paris and Rebecca Podniesinski in helping to work on Keene Top Chef.
We quickly realized that wasn’t enough people. So we got a group of interested individuals together, formed an official non-profit, and became Culinary Journeys.
Tell me more about “Culinary Journeys.”
We hold events to raise money for scholarships. The money raised is given to Culinary Students from the Cheshire career center. Which is the program I went through in high school. I am also on the steering committee for Keene First Fridays Art Hop, which will be starting soon and will be a monthly event held on the first Friday of every month on main st. we will be exhibiting art, as well as music, food, and whatever else organically grows of the event.
Well that all sounds great Jordan! Thank you so much! Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap up?
I just want to mention how appreciative I am of everyone that has been supportive of me along the way. Without Laura and Alden at the Gill Tavern, Nicola at his restaurant, Ash at Odelay, and Luca with both Culinary Journeys and always there as a friend, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Friends along the way, like you Kris, taking time to do photoshoots just because, as well as Danya and Rebecca with Machina Arts, believe in me from the moment they met me, and having the patience to wait until I was ready to take the leap and work on a business together. It means so much to me to have all of these people in my life, and to have my wife by my side, supporting me as well.
Check out his Website!