Get To Know Us: Chef Jon Jividen

1.  How long have you been working at 12 Street Catering and how did you get your start at the company?

I have been a part of the 12 Street catering operation for 6 years.  I got my start with the company through ‘divine intervention’ (a story for another time).

2.  What is your favorite part about working at 12 Street Catering?

My favorite part about working at 12 Street Catering is the complete creative freedom and appreciation for what I bring to the table.  There is also an atmosphere of positive ‘energy’ and ‘can do’ attitude that permeates every department – from sales, to kitchen and bake shop to warehouse and service.  These qualities carry through to our clients, who reap the benefits.  These qualities are a direct result of actions and attitudes practiced by the owners themselves who are involved, interested and caring.  They are also good listeners; to both employees and valued clients alike, who support and maintain our company.   

3.  What food trends are you excited about and what trends do you feel need to go?

During my 30 years of catering experience I have seen numerous trends come and go; from the inspirational and lasting to the ridiculous and short-lived.  In my opinion, ethnic foods are always trending. Lately I have seen a surge of interest and curiosity in Middle Eastern food and culture. The simplicity and richness of flavors of this cuisine are attractive and enduring.  Asian inspired flavors are still climbing the culinary hit parade along with Latin influenced foods.  The trending food preparation has to be sous vide.  I am a novice, but definitely an advocate.  Trends that I feel are on the decline or dead (or should be) are the ‘laboratory enhanced’ food twists – foams, liquid nitrogen treated and the like.  Don’t know about you but I prefer my ‘foam’ floating on my cappuccino or my draft brewed root beer.  For me, food was meant to be enhanced, lovingly prepared, and attractively presented.  I do love showmanship, but I am not a ‘mad scientist’ type of chef (although some would wholeheartedly disagree).

4.   Where do you gain inspiration in the kitchen?

 My inspiration comes from many things and from many different directions.  My main inspiration is food itself; the blush on a peach, the heady aroma of Thai basil, the textures, colors and shapes of food.  These are my ‘toys’ and ‘tools’.  I also have a theory that everyone has an ‘adult’ and a ‘child’ within them.  The ‘child’ has no boundaries, no preconceived ideas, does not know what “impossible” or “no” means and approaches everything in a playful manner.  I call on my ‘child’ when creating or envisioning a new food idea, event theme and decor or plate design.  Then, it’s up to my ‘adult’ to figure out the process, procedure, and logistics to make the darn thing happen.  So far, it’s been a tried and true process for me.

5. What is your favorite dish to eat?  To cook?

My favorite dishes to eat depend on the season and my mood. My 2 all-time favorites would have to be Paella and Cassoulet. My favorite dish to cook? That’s like asking a painter what his favorite color is. One of mine is chili. It’s one of those dishes that is such a personal thing to so many. It involves putting your love and personality into the dish. I don’t think I have ever made it the same way twice.

 6.  What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?

Who knows what I would be doing?!  Probably an actor, writer, professional photographer or master gardener – I enjoy all of these hobbies.  But above all, I love food and everything it represents; artistry, kinship, sharing, tradition, pleasure and memories.  

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