By Justin Alexander Shoults
Life at My Family Table
At an early age, I showed interest in creating something with my hands in the kitchen. I can remember rolling out pasta with my mother, making cookies around Christmas, and playing “restaurant” for many dinners at home as a child. My first jobs were in restaurants. I started at a breakfast place as a dishwasher and soon moved to a pizza shop, making all of the pizzas to order. They saw that I enjoyed doing the work and put me on their line as a seventeen-year-old cook. From there, I went on to culinary school, and the rest is history.
My passion for food really took off once I attended the Culinary Institute of America and learned that being a chef was a fun, hands-on job, which I could have anywhere in the world. And I also found that being a chef meant a never-ending education in the subject of gastronomy.
Through all my traveling and working in great restaurants, I have developed a personal philosophy about cooking and food. I believe in humbly and responsibly creating wholesome dishes that I can share with guests, patrons, and friends that evoke happiness. I spend a lot of my time seeking out the best ingredients, many from local small, artisan farmers and producers. I believe in not spending too much time manipulating those ingredients to create delicious food.
My Favorite Cookbook: Escoffier – Le Guide Culinaire by Auguste Escoffier
My favorite cookbook is Escoffier – Le Guide Culinaire by Auguste Escoffier. This book was first published in 1907 and has remained timeless. I love to look in this book to get a foundation for building my own recipes. You can look in this book for a specific ingredient and learn how to cook it in the cuisine classique-style of France. I found this cookbook at the CIA because it was a requirement for one of our classes. Since then, it is pretty much open on my desk on any given day of the week. My favorite recipes from this book are the “tripes à la mode de Caen,” “lamb leg sous croûte,” and the “pheasant kotchoubey.”
5 fun facts about me that other people may not know
- I am an avid wild food forager and have an expansive knowledge of what to eat off of the land.
- I used to be in the theater as a teenager and starred in a couple of plays. I played Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Woodstock in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and Schmendiman in Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
- I was on the golf team growing up, and that is the only sport I have ever played in school.
- Both of my parents are artists of many different mediums, and I grew up creating a lot of my own art. Some of my best paintings I have hanging at my house today.
- I have a ridiculous sweet tooth that I try to control and will probably be the death of me one day.
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