Get to know the Health Chefs who love curating meals and share cooking tips.
In our second installment of HCTJ Health Chefs Special, we meet Chef Jessica Blanco, Jess for short, a chef with 11 years of experience who loves to put a twist on every meal she creates. Let’s learn more about Chef Jess, why she became a chef, her favorite meals and recipes, and why she loves cooking.
How did you discover your passion/ love for food?
I discovered my passion for food when I took a home economics class in high school. It teaches you how to be independent in the kitchen. While taking the class wanted to learn about food trends and cuisines. I graduated with a culinary arts and food service management degree. After 11 years of working in the industry, I love learning new food trends. I appreciate my Mexican culture and want to refine Mexican cuisine.
What kind of food do you specialize in?
As a chef, I don’t specialize in a particular food. I love working with all types of cuisines and everything that can be healthy. I love working with different clients because they always look for something different.
What is your favorite recipe, and when was the last time you made it?
My favorite recipe is braised short rib – a dish I paired with potato gnocchi and wild mushrooms. This recipe was one of the first recipes I created; braising a beef cut with excellent Mexican spices, herbs, and broth for hours sounds so juicy. The beauty of braised short rib is that you can create many delicious dishes. You can use the short rib for tacos, mac n cheese, or slider.
Can you walk us through your careers?
After working in the restaurant/catering business for ten years, I thought it was time to change the cooking scenery. While working for a catering company, I used to interact with people and make menus with the client’s needs. I’d go to a client’s home to work a cocktail party, bbq party, or private dinner; I realized I wanted to do the same thing but with my unique twist. I realized there’s more to the restaurant industry and decided to become a Private Chef.
As a chef, how would you define your cooking style?
My cooking style can be farm-to-table. Working in the Hamptons for many years, looking at the farm stands, and buying their unique produce made me appreciate food. My plating techniques can be considered a refined dining style.
What are some dishes you haven’t tried but want to?
I would love to learn about two dishes or cooking styles: how to smoke a brisket perfectly and make the crispiest chicken. Also, I would love to start pickling more vegetables.
What are your go-to ingredients?
My go-to’s ingredients would always be spices and herbs. Just these two things can make/change a dish completely.
What do you enjoy the most about working as a Private Chef?
What I enjoy the most about working as a private chef is creating seasonal menus and having my clients or people I love enjoy my creations. My most memorable moment as a private chef was when I worked at my friend’s wedding with only myself and one server for 70 people cocktail-hour and family-style dinner. It was hard work but worth it because the guest enjoyed thems. They enjoyed everything I made.
How do you and your clients decide on the menu?
When working with clients, I ask about preferences, dislikes, allergies, or dietary restrictions before drafting a menu. After that, we can revise it, and then we will have a final menu. I love working on menus with clients’ needs/requests.
What are three things you love about being a Private Chef and working on the Health Chefs Team?
This industry can be male-oriented, and seeing two amazing female chefs start this company from the ground to now is the most fantastic thing. Also, they love to be very involved in the process when pairing a client with a chef. Always making sure everything runs smoothly.
Being a chef, I have learned not to shy away. I used to be very timid, and now I can socialize and love talking to clients when cooking in their house. I have become more confident and proud of my work.
What is one thing you won’t cook?
There’s nothing I won’t cook. On the contrary, I love a challenge. Even if there’s an ingredient/spice/technique I don’t know how to use, I will do my best to learn and make it work.
Where do you see yourself or the Health Chefs team in a year or 5 years?
The Health Chefs are growing amazingly, and I hope there will grow bigger and bigger. As for myself, I hope I can achieve many goals I have in mind and still be part of this fantastic company.
What is something you’d like the readers to know about being a Private Chef and The Health Chefs Team?
This company understands its concept and is willing to work with the client’s needs. They do their best to make people’s lives easier, even offering delicious meals. I am happy to be part of this fantastic team.
How would you like people to remember your cooking?
As I mentioned before, I am working on perfecting my Mexican cuisine. I want to bring it a bit upscale. Working at a fine restaurant, I learned many techniques I would like to apply to my Mexican cooking cuisine.
Want to know more about Chef Jess Blanco’s journey to refine Mexican cuisine? You can follow her on Instagram at @jess_blanc0.
Join us next month as we introduce another great health chef.