Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Introduce yourself and where you’re from).
My name is Jayson Solano. I was born and raised in the South Bronx region of New York City.
Tell me something interesting about yourself, a fun fact!
My Mother is from Puerto Rico and my Father is from the Dominican Republic.
How did you start cooking?
Being raised in a Hispanic home there was always food on the stove and music playing in the background. Helping in the kitchen goes back further than I can remember. Even though as a kid helping was not a choice. “Go wash the rice, Hurry!” Words that I can still here my late grandmother saying to me 30+ years later.
What is it you love most about it?
The most fulfilling part of working in the kitchen every day, besides creating basically anything that comes to my head, is the adventure. No two days are alike in the kitchen. There is always a new challenge or a new issue that needs to be fixed. Always a difficult guest that needs to be pampered or a manager that does not play team ball. That is where my passion comes, I love to fix problems on the fly.
When making a new dish, what’s your process like?
When coming up with a new concept for a dish, whether it be a more classic route or modern, I always think of flavor profile 1st. After brainstorming on how aggressive or delicate I want it on the palette I start thinking of different techniques. I think of color contrast in the dish, since most people eat with their eyes first. Lastly, I think of the actual plate it will go on and plating techniques.
What do you love to cook most?
I would have to say my favorite thing to cook is seafood. I love the variety of species the ocean provides. Working out of South Florida makes it perfect for sourcing all kinds of seafood.
What have you done that you’re most proud of?
Having my food highlights on channel 7 news “Bites with Belkis” and being able to work for James Beard award winning chefs is what I am most proud of in my career. Honestly being able to make my parents proud of having a progressive chef as a son is more than enough for me.
Does being Hispanic influence your cooking at all? If so, how?
I would be amazed as a kid watching my grandmother cook with no recipe, no measurements and basically no help. Eyeballing everything. Multitasking and being on top of everything I am in charge of is something I learned from her. That hard working Hispanic culture is still part of my life today.
How is cooking like an art? (What’s your opinion of cooking as an art form?)
I am very much into the visual arts. As a kid I would sneak away and do graffiti on the New York streets and be amazed by how colors could be manipulated. I still consider what I’m doing today in the kitchen as an art 100%.
Who/what inspires you?
To be honest my son is my greatest inspiration. My son has such a positive vision and such a bright outlook on life. He is never bothered and super understanding all while rolling with the punches. He helps me from time to time in the kitchen and he is just my favorite person.
My favorite food to eat, hands down is DOMINICAN food. Something about the culture, ingredients, love, and recipes that they use take me back to the few years I lived in Santo Domingo when I was a child.
Any words of wisdom for young chefs?
A word to all up and coming chefs, whether it be through way of culinary school or the grit and grind of trying to come up through the trenches, would be to have patience. Besides that, everything else should move into place. Patience.