We sat down with BFM Market Chef, John Pastor, to ask him about how he started cooking and what he loves about food and farmers markets. Chef John’s roles is to help BFM market goers understand how to use seasonal ingredients through chef demos during the season. Here’s what he had to say…
How did you become a Chef?
As necessity is the mother of invention and as I was a poor college student for some time, I began buying whole chickens, roasting them to eat and then deboning them; using the carcasses to make soup. A friend of a friend took notice of this and happened to be the sous chef for a prominent restaurant in Milwaukee; he also suffered from severe back pain. One day he offered me cash to come into the restaurant and help him out. I became his apprentice and learned the French techniques that dominated that kitchen, I worked hard but I really enjoyed it.
After college, I went into the corporate world. While some people brought store bought cookies to the occasional work potluck, I would roast chickens rubbed with Herbs de Provence over a bed of mirepoix in a conference room and the wonderful smell would drive the entire floor crazy!
After my wife and I moved from Chicago to Atlanta, I decided to drop the corporate life and chase my dream of cooking again.
What is your favorite part about working in a kitchen?
In my experience, the best chefs are also scientists of sorts. Every new recipe is an experiment and I am constantly learning about new foodstuffs and different types of cuisine. In the kitchen, you have to always be moving forward and there is always something new to learn, which keeps my job exciting.
What advice can you lend to home cooks about shopping at the farmers market?
Be curious! Ask questions and try to get to know your farmers. Shop and eat as they do in Europe which means buy and eat what's fresh and in season. Enjoy the market atmosphere and be respectful to fellow market goers.
What is your favorite thing to cook that is in season right now?
Strawberries and asparagus.
What will you be making at the BFM Chef Demo this Saturday, April 23rd?
Warmed Strawberry Compote over Pork with pork from Grant Wallace Farm and strawberries from both Fitzgerald Fruit Farms and Wastonia Farms. Strawberries are not just for dessert, they make amazing savory dishes too!
Come see Chef John this Saturday, April 23rd at 10:00am
for his first chef demo this season.