Everything you'd expect from a Southern boy, Jason Brumm is a family guy at heart who appreciates the slow life and deep spicy flavors. The new executive chef at Second Home Kitchen & Bar in Cherry Creek comes from Nashville with a unique story— he won his job on the Food Network show Chef Wanted. Eater caught up with Brumm about his new position and changes to expect at Second Home.
Did you get interested in cooking at a young age? When I was young, my family did a lot of traveling and great eating. I was eating lobsters at four. The culture of eating well and family is a great part of my story.
I went on to Colorado Mountain College, the College of the Redwoods, and the Culinary Institute. When I lived in Nashville I was the director of Culinary Operations for MR Group, where I developed a steakhouse, a sports bar, an American restaurant, and fast casual restaurant Asian, Italian, and Mexican concepts for a mall. And now here we are through the magic of television.
Tell us about making the decision to go on Chef Wanted. I was in Nashville at the time and considering my options. A lot of Chef Wanted candidates don't take the jobs— but I'd been talking to the company and they got me comfortable with the idea of it. If it was a small, mom & pop, single-proprietor restaurant I wouldn't have done it. I wanted to get back into hotels, and I wasn't going to take something that wasn't a good fit.
How do you apply your cooking philosophy here at Second Home? Cooking is creative problem solving, and as a chef you've got to pick your battles. I'm not only the chef of the restaurant, but I'm the chef of the entire property: banquet room, room service, and employee cafeteria. I don't want artichoke in the frittata-kind of decisions don't happen around here.
What will change around here? What will stay the same? I'm switching up the lunch menu. There wasn't grilled cheese on the menu at a restaurant called Second Home. There's gotta be grilled cheese. As a chef you want to get your stamp on things that are important to you. Caesar dressing is important to me. I don't like the caesar salad; it doesn't have any zing to it. It has white anchovies and tomatoes... you don't need any of it. I've learned you don't always have to add one more ingredient to make a dish great. The best dressing, crisp lettuce, nice yummy buttery cruotons. shave Reggiano, see ya later.
Sounds like you're doing some streamlining. What other foods do you like to make at work? I like to make food that's clever, but it's not the smartest kid in the room. You have to have French Dip on the menu at a place like this, but we do it with lamb instead of beef, we make a rosemary au jus, black olive aioli, arugula, whipped feta, and pickled onions. None of that is outside of the box. Those regular ingredients are repurposed in a way that is just a little less traditional.
What do you like to cook at home? I have a one-year-old and a four-year-old. The more food that we have together, the better the kids eat. We are trying for 4 nights a week that we all sit down as a family. We broil salmon and roast broccoli; that was dinner last night. We love Nashville and seaside Florida, and we miss the flavors that we had there, like ribs roasted with apple and apple cider vinegar, braised kale, and roasted sweet potatoes.
Any restaurant recommendations in the neighborhood? There are a lot of great lunch spots in the area: Cherry Cricket, North, and True Foods. We also like to go to Sam's No. 3 in Glendale for brunch, and Marco's Coal Fired Pizza is a great spot. We're also trying to get to
Jason Brumm [Photo: Emily Hutto]
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