Name: Jonathan Duffe Age: 25 years old Position: Head Chef, 21C Museum Hotel Why watch it: It goes the extra mile for guests, especially grandmas.
An anecdote Jonathan Duffe tells about his experience running the Monday Supper series from the Brass Bar’s open kitchen gives insight into what hospitality means to him. “There were times when someone came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m about to leave, but my grandma loved the sauce you made,'” said Duffe. “I’d take a little container, like a cup, put some sauce in it and say, ‘Hey, leave that at the table, tell grandma she can take that home.’ That’s the best part. That’s what’s worth it, when we can do those little things for people.
This impulse “to build relationships with the people we nurture” is part of why Duffe put aside his plans for a career in accounting to become a chef. “I didn’t just want to cook good food for myself, I wanted to share it with people,” he said. Until the last weeks of 2022, Duffe shared his kitchen with the guests of the Brasserie by Niche in his role as sous-chef. “He reads, studies and practices at home more than any cook I’ve met in a long time,” said Brasserie executive chef Evy Swoboda, whom Duffe described as a mentor.
Swoboda said Duffe is “extremely creative,” but a culinary training that began at Reeds American Table under chef-owner Matt Daughaday and then continued with Niche Food Group at Pastaria and Brasserie, gave him a fundamental respect for the skills inherent in classical techniques. and preparations. “The classics are more difficult than the new ones,” Duffe said. “If I give you something you have no reference point for, you’re going to say it’s delicious.” What if I gave you something you’ve already eaten 20 times in your life. I have to make this really, really good to live up to the standard you once had.
Recognizing Duffe’s creative itch, Gerard Craft, owner of Swoboda and Niche Food Group, gave him the opportunity to lead the Monday Supper series at the Brass Bar, creating and executing his own menus in the former Taste space. The series gave Duffe his first taste of the responsibilities of a chef. “I had to live and die by this menu and whatever I decided to do,” he said. “It was stressful at first, but you fall into it, and then you’re almost proud of it, and you really get into it and become a well-oiled machine.”
Duffe’s next move sees him reuniting with Daughaday in the kitchen of the future 21c Museum Hotel, where Daughaday is the executive chef. He said he’d like to open his own restaurant one day, but he’s in no rush. “I will learn a lot of things next year,” he said. He can’t yet reveal what’s in store at the 21c Museum Hotel, other than an assurance that it will be delicious. “If you’re not excited about me, you should definitely be excited about everything Matt does,” he said. Put that on the record: we’re absolutely thrilled with Jonathan Duffe’s future.