Interview with Chef A.J. Jackson

Vancouver is home to some of the best chefs in the world, many have worked for the top chefs and restaurants around the world as well as around the city. Dishing with the Chefs is a series of Interviews with some of the top chefs in and around Vancouver.

Chef A.J. Jackson

Chef A.J. Jackson

A.J grew up in the town of Powell River, while finishing high school he fell in love with cooking and once he graduated moved to Vancouver to start his career. Working at the Capilano Golf and Country Club he completed his red seal and moved on to gain more experience working in many different restaurants in Vancouver and Victoria. Two years ago A.J landed back in Vancouver at Darby’s Public House and switched his focus to more casual comfort food and hasn’t looked back since.

You can follow Chef A.J. Jackson on twitter @ChefAJJackson

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Have you always wanted to be a Chef?

Since I was in Grade 10 in high school, I instantly fell in love with cooking. The high school that I went to had a joint program with the local university with a culinary focus. The program ran the school’s cafeteria and restaurant, as part of this program I worked in the restaurants, my teachers were huge inspirations and they got me into competitions etc.

What inspires you to create the dishes you do that are Pub enhanced fare?

I wanted to focus on the food and I like to eat, when I moved to Vancouver I searched for the right pub I could work in. It is a combination of trying other food, putting my spin on things and using as much local product as available.

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You are known for your Duck Confit, how did that come to be?

I start with the main product which is the duck, then I would decide which direction I want to go, such as Middle Eastern, Mexican or other region, then narrowing down the flavour profiles of the region and creating my dish.

What are your 5 Favourite Ingredients too Cook with?

  • Duck
  • Saffron
  • Cumin
  • Curries
  • Mushrooms

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1st dish:

 

Hoisin Sticky Ribs

Hoisin Sticky Ribs

Hoisin Sticky Ribs

Braised baby back ribs

Soy

Ginger

Curry red pepper powder

Hoisin

Sesame seeds

Sticky rice

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

Had a party that wanted me to cook for them and this is one of the dishes I came up with.

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What is your favourite foods to eat?

  • Mac & Cheese
  • Burger
  • Pasta

What are your favourite restaurants outside of where you work?

  • Pidgin
  • The District in North Van
  • Meat & Bread

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When you were growing up did you eat out in restaurants often?

My family never went out for dinner, always ate at home.

What are your first memories of cooking?

  • Baking cookies with my mom
  • Making Sunday brunch with my dad

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2nd dish:

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Orchetti

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Orchetti

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Orchetti

Orchetti pasta

Shimiji mushrooms

Shitaki mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms

Tarragon cream sauce

Rossdown farms chicken

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

I wanted to create a dish that would work well with a new program we were supporting here at the restaurant, this dish is now part of the Mealshare Program.

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Tell me about Braising?

Start off with a tough cut of meat. The idea is that after braising you can have a tender flavourful piece of meat.

I understand you just got a smoker in the kitchen at Darby’s Pub, what are you looking forward to Smoke?

  • Ribs
  • Chicken wings
  • Pork belly

When you are planning a Brewmasters dinner, what is your Process?

It is a couple weeks process, have to settle on the beers first, then I sample the beers to see which meat would go well with the beer and I go from there.

What are your current 5 Favourite Beers?

  1. Deep Cove Pale Ale
  2. Driftwood White Bark
  3. Phllips Blue Buck
  4. Phillips Hopperation
  5. Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears

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3rd dish:

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

Shimiji mushrooms

Shitaki mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms

Bc kale

Local potatoes

Brome Lake duck

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

All my favourite foods on one plate.

What are your favourite food cities for travel?

Seattle and Portland

Stay tuned for the next chef in the Dishing with the Chef series.

By: Richard Wolak