One-on-one with Chef Jason Licker
Chef Jason Licker has an impressive resume that now includes the self-publishing of his cookbook, ‘Lickerland’. Though he began his pastry career in New York City, the majority of his professional life has taken place in Asia. His work has brought him to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand – and that’s just grazing the surface.
‘Lickerland’ embodies Chef Jason’s career thus far; it’s focused on Asian-inspired desserts that utilize unique flavours and modern techniques. He takes traditional dishes, and local tastes from across numerous countries and regions in Asia and puts his own twist on them to deliver something playful, complex, and fresh.
We sat down with Chef Jason to get a better understanding of his approach to pastry and baking, hear about his favourite comfort foods, and find out what gets him grooving in the kitchen.
What’s the last thing you burned?
The last thing I burned was toast. I received a phone call and totally forgot about it until I saw smoke coming from the toaster oven. Oops!
Your favourite spice?
My favorite spice is or condiment is salt. A little makes a massive difference in anything.
While working in Asia, what foods to do you miss from home?
American / Western staples in Asia, never seems to taste quite the same. I miss good pizza and Mexican food when I’m there.
What has been your favourite place to travel to so far?
My favourite city in Asia has got to be Kyoto. It’s a gorgeous city with so much natural beauty, plus the food is incredible!
What makes you “kitchen angry”?
If you are messy, I will make your life a living hell.
The latest flavour you discovered?
Taiwanese umé juice; it is sweet, smokey and sour. I want to make everything and anything with it.
What’s your most extravagant purchase?
I don’t really buy things; I buy plane tickets to have experiences.
Favourite song in the kitchen?
My favorite kitchen song is Sweet Caroline by Neal Diamond. I mean, how can you not sing along to it?
What’s your comfort food?
This is a tough question since I love all food but I am a taco freak! I just love Mexican food.
What’s your most essential tool?
My most essential tool in the kitchen is my hands.
Your favourite smell in the kitchen?
The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking but second place goes to the smell of financier.
What’s your bad habit?
My bad habit is that sometimes I can’t stop thinking about work. It is important to disconnect and relax, but hell, I love what I do, so sometimes it is tough.
What do you admire in other chefs?
I admire hard work. When I see a chef completely committed and dedicated to the grind, they receive my respect.
Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
My mother is my greatest inspiration and her spirit shines through me and my work every single day.
The dish that you are proudest of?
I am proud of all my dishes – they’re like my children.
What’s your end of the world menu?
I would definitely need tacos (including al pastor and carnitas), as well as: dim sum, pizza, tom yum goong soup, a sashimi platter, a burger, doner kebabs, bahn xeo – to start of course…
Your favourite advice or quote?
My favorite advice that I now give to others, is to depend on yourself and to create your own success.
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