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Member Spotlight: Get to know Chef Jason McClain

Chef Jason McClain, Chef & Owner - Philly Jay’s Steaks

We caught up with Chef Jason serving up his remarkable menu at one of his many spots where he parks his Philly Jay’s Steaks food truck. A fantastic chef and good friend to The Restaurant Society, we wanted to take a peek at the man behind the coat.

Chef Jason McClain started his lustrous career at 15 years old when his father went bankrupt and instructed him to “get a job.” Jason began as a busboy at the local Country Club and was hooked after receiving that first paycheck. When a cook injured his hand, he was asked to help on the line. His talent was quickly noticed by the chef who kindly gifted him his first cookbook; “Chef Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate Hotel in DC.” As a person with dyslexia, being behind a desk was not where Jason wanted to end up. Using his hands always excited Chef Jason but using them to produce something that TASTED good was even more exciting. This was the same feeling brought on when he stepped into the boxing ring. You may be surprised to learn that Chef Jason was almost a professional boxer!!

If you are looking to find Chef Jason not working, you will find him enjoying ice cream with his daughters or swinging the clubs at San Gabriel Country Club. When he does not want to be found, he and the family take off in their RV - where phones go unanswered.

For a man that has been cooking for over 30 years, worked in 9 cities and 3 different countries he has an array of inspiration in which to draw from, but his favorite is to do what he feels at that time. If he craves it - he creates it, from pizza to Philly Cheese Steak to elegant Foie Gras. A change of season and fresh product can certainly turn on those creative juices. Chef Jason takes great pride in his past and is always looking for ways to reinvent and adapt his vision.

As with everyone and everything, 2020 certainly brought new challenges and the need to think differently. Chef Jason’s takeaway is this: “Keep it simple…be hands on…and be resilient…you have to chase the business. There is less business to go around, so if you are going to succeed, you need to chase the business and make sure you have the best quality. Quality always prevails. With labor costs going up, restaurants cannot have the same number of staff, but keeping it simple with a smaller menu and really focusing on your offerings is where you have to put your thinking cap on. To succeed during such a strange time for the hospitality sector, you have to be both Chef and a Businessman.”

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