Jordan’s first interaction with cooking came at the age of 7. He remembers his teacher assigning a rather interesting project; to make something by himself, present his creation to an audience, and describe their reaction.
He decided to make scrambled eggs. And while he enjoyed the experience of cooking , what he really loved was the gratifying reaction of his family. A new interest (other than basketball) had been sparked and Jordan began preparing simple meals for his family on a regular basis.
At 14, Jordan started working in a professional kitchen. After graduating high school, Jordan began studying at Thames Valley University in the culinary arts program. It was during this time that Jordan took on an internship working at the renowned 5-star Savoy Hotel in London, UK. It was as an intern that the young cook developed his love of fine dining – a love that would follow him throughout his life.
Being a culinary student, he started exploring various cuisines and fell in love with Asian gastronomy. Jordan hoped to find a restaurant position that would combine his love of Asian cuisine and fine dining. Unfortunately there weren’t any high-end Asian restaurants in London at the time. Instead, Jordan decided to keep honing his cooking skills, he joined Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen where he gained experience working under a three-Michelin starred chef.
When Nobu landed in the UK, he jumped at the opportunity to fulfill his dream of creating high-end Asian dishes. At the age of 25, Jordan became the youngest sous-chef at Nobu. He laughs as he shares how the change to Nobu felt like a holiday; going from a 2-Michelin starred kitchen of 16 chefs headed by Gordon Ramsey, to Nobu where he cooked with 60 other chefs and everyday he was blown away by the flavours they were developing.
It was only six years later that he would once again cross paths with Kurt Zdesar. Kurt and Jordan had previously met at Nobu, where Kurt was their head of development.
After opening a series of other restaurants, Kurt decided to launch his own. He was in the beginning stages of developing a new restaurant concept centered around Nikkei (Peruvian – Japanese fusion) cuisine. Having worked with Jordan, the entrepreneur knew that the chef had a deep understanding of Asian culinary traditions as well as an expertise of Western cooking techniques, these were two strong assets when reinventing Nikkei dishes.
As Kurt puts it, “it is not often that you find a chef that is able to do a lot of different things really well and use all sorts of techniques to take a dish to the next level.” Together they embarked on a new adventure – Chotto Matte.
Jordan recalls their first menu conversation. Kurt had showed up with this presentation based on photos of landscapes, colours, textures, and fabrics. Jordan shares, amused, “there was this painting of a Peruvian women working in a field and Kurt tells me: “this is what I want. Can you recreate this in a plate?” I thought he had gone mad.”
But together they looked at it until they were able to find how to bring the authenticity in these colours, textures, and what seemed to be a lovely mess, into 40 dishes. Kurt told Jordan: “a picture speaks a thousand words, so does a dish!”
When asked why he chose to join Kurt in this new venture, Jordan answers with confidence: “Kurt is the best person to work with. He thinks about everything. He has knowledge about every piece of the business.”
The chef adds, “with him, I am given trust and independence. I think that too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, is the worst that can happen in a restaurant. The more people get involved; more of a chance there is they will disagree and then somebody ends up getting disappointed. At Chotto Matte, what gets on the table is what I make; it’s who I am. And as long as Kurt likes it, I don’t need to denature the dish and tweak it to please everybody.”
Get to know more about the Executive Chef of Chotto Matte London, UK, Miami and now Toronto, through this exclusive interview:
Do you have a lucky charm in the kitchen?
I was once given a dry chili from an Italian chef for good luck and I do keep it with me.
Your favourite spice?
What makes you “kitchen angry”?
When the food on the pass does not leave the kitchen quickly.
Latest flavour combination you discovered?
Goji berries and Szechwan pepper.
What’s your most extravagant purchase?
Japanese water sent from Japan to make soup.
Favourite song in the kitchen?
This changes weekly but right now the go-to is Ricky Martin’s Living la Vida Loca!
What’s your comfort food?
Thai curry with rice.
What’s your most essential tool?
A jug blender.
Favourite smell in the kitchen?
Freshly picked rosemary.
If you could change anything in the food industry, what would it be?
Less take-out – more dining in restaurants.
What drives you to cook Asian food?
The flavours and the simplicity.
According to you, what does the next generation of chefs need to succeed?
They need to learn to be patient. They should thoroughly understand the foundation of cooking skills before wanting to be a sous-chef.
What do you remember from your time working with Gordon Ramsey?
The work there was fairly robotic and discipline was extremely important, but I gained a strong kitchen basis. There, I learned to train to the best of my abilities and to look at all the small mistakes so the big ones would never happen – something that I try to pass on to my team too.
What’s your bad habit?
Tasting a bit of chocolate each time I walk by the pastry section.
What do you admire in other chefs?
Any chef working and succeeding in the industry needs respect, even if it is just for the stress they take on and the hours they put in.
Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
The thing you are the most proud of?
Never giving up when things got tough as a young chef! I am also proud of the development plans I have in place for talented young chefs.
What’s your end of the world menu?
Oxtail, rice, and plantain.
Your favourite piece of advice or quote?
Always try to understand another person’s point of view, even if you totally disagree – be moldable.