We interviewed Jordan Wagman, chef, educator and author of 4 cookbooks (with a 5th on the way). We found out his most requested recipe, the one thing he always avoids, why he would like to share a meal with Charlie Trotter, and that people love “dirt”.
You have a lot of titles/jobs (James Beard Nominated Chef, cookbook author, sales leader, musician, husband and dad), how do you juggle it all?
It’s not something I really think about to be honest. I prioritize and just get everything I need done. Working in high-end kitchens taught me the art of multitasking.
What is your favourite meal to cook?
I don’t have a favorite meal but I do love the challenge of opening my fridge and creating something amazing for family and friends with whatever ingredients I find in the kitchen. This is exactly why I can teach people to set themselves up for success. With the right staples in your home, you can create amazing, quick meals from very little. (we always say that if you keep good food in your kitchen, you will eat good food!)
If you could share a meal with one person you have never met, who would that be and why?
Difficult to answer…Charlie Trotter. As a young cook, I used to watch his shows on TV and be mesmerized by the simplicity of his food and the ease in which he explained the execution for those foodstuff. Now, as a chef, I emulate that approach myself with great pride.
If you could cut 5 things out of everyone’s everyday eating, what would they be?
Refined sugar, gluten, dairy, chemicals of any kind, fast food. (amen)
Is there anything that you avoid almost all of the time?
I won’t eat refined sugar…Although I might “stray” from time to time and eat a potato chip or have a beer, I won’t ever cheat with sugar. Since cutting it out completely, I don’t even crave it. I’ve gone through two Halloweens and have not eaten one piece of candy. I don’t crave it any more. (if you haven’t seen the film “Fed Up”, it’s on our must-watch list for good reason)
Do you believe diet is linked with allergies/illness?
YES. I have lived with Psoriasis since the age of 12, and I have been relatively healthy for 18 months due to the dietary changes I’ve made.
Do your kids like your cooking?
They do like my cooking, both for different reasons. My son, Jonah, loves to eat and try just about anything. He appreciates the variety of foods that comes with having a dad who is a chef…My daughter, well, she likes that I can make ice cream and other treats. Treats seem to be one of her food groups. That said, she doesn’t realize that the vast majority of what I make her is good for her!
There are so many cookbooks on the market, and so many recipes online, what makes your cookbooks worth owning?
Good question, simple answer. I have a unique skill set and experience. Having been formally trained as a chef, and having run high end kitchens, combined with my years in business, allows me to create recipes and meals that are not only restaurant quality, but accessible in both execution and affordability. The way I cook and teach now reflects how I eat personally; without refined sugar, dairy or gluten.
Do you think of your cooking classes as entertainment? I know you are great on stage, even as far back as our days at summer camp together.
I would say my classes are a balance between entertainment and education. I don’t entertain to just entertain, I entertain by engaging my guests. People want to ask questions and receive answers they understand and can use. Much of the time I will stop what I am doing, and provide a demonstration to support my instructions and answers in the kitchen. I do love to entertain though, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to find me singing and laughing during the classes but, there has to be a take away. People have to learn or they won’t return, and won’t be inspired to get cooking in their own kitchen and life. With classes filling up, and clients returning often, I hope that is a reflection on the amount of knowledge and entertainment they receive from time spent in my kitchen.
What is the most requested recipe from your friends?
My Kale and Chicken meatballs is at the top of the most requested list. “DIRT” and Kick Ass Granola are also very popular.
What does clean eating mean to you?
To me, and I stress to me…I eat for my skin. I avoid nightshade vegetables, dairy, gluten and refined sugar. To the average person, I think eating cleanER is the most important thing. Make a few changes. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”via @bordenteam”]Eat better, focus on what you’re consuming and make better choices[/inlinetweet]. I have gone to the extreme, for good reason, and it is working for me, but I don’t expect everyone to follow suit.
Do you like eating out at restaurants?
Not really. There is no magic in eating out anymore…I find that most restaurants cannot justify the money they charge. More often than not, I’m disappointed. Sad, isn’t it? (It is, we love eating at home, but only because there aren’t enough chefs and restaurants with a commitment to using kind, healthy ingredients. Simple meals made from the best ingredients at home, plus organic tequila or wine is hard to beat!)
Do you agree that cooking skills are life skills? By what age should someone know how to make a meal?
I sure do! I love educating kids…I introduce them to new ingredients in familiar ways…by doing this, they are more open to trying new ingredients. Quinoa for rice is an easy one, but legume pasta in place of a wheat pasta? That takes some creativity or at least some know-how.
The more kids become independent in the kitchen, the easier it will be for them to avoid ordering in or relying on restaurant food, and the easier it is to make better choices for themselves.
Family time…whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it…family time.
To learn more about Jordan Wagman and his class schedule, connect with him directly via jordanwagman.com. Follow him on Instagram and connect on LinkedIn. Watch for his new blog launching in the new year!