In the kitchen or on the restaurant floor, Executive Chef Jason Slimak always steals the show. His energy and positive attitude are a constant source of inspiration for those around him. As both a friend and family member to the Saint Anejo team, Chef Jason’s passion for creating innovative fare is remarkable. Some might recognize Jason from his regular visits with tables, always making sure that his guests have been well fed and satisfied. We could not be more excited to share his story with you.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.
How did you become interested in cooking?
God bless her soul, my mother could burn water. So, I started cooking for us at an early age. It was a way for us to learn and be together with family in the kitchen.
How did you end up in Nashville?
I moved here a little over four years ago. I was looking for something different and decided to try out Nashville because it has an up-and-coming food scene. Two days after I landed in Nashville, I met with M Street.
What was your journey with M street like?
After I had my interview, I starting working at Whiskey Kitchen as a Sous Chef. Chris Hyndman (M Street's CEO) was looking for an Executive Chef just prior to opening his Saint Anejo concept. He realized that I had been the Executive Chef of De Cero Taqueria in Chicago, one of his favorite Mexican restaurants, and asked me to join the team.
What’s your favorite part about working for M Street?
The amount of creative freedom I have in the kitchen. It is so awesome that we are able to share our ideas with Chris. He is open to our creativity and is always willing to provide feedback.
What is your favorite menu item?
I would have to say any of our burritos. They are big, fat, and amazing. The shrimp and mango quesadilla is also a favorite.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
Comfort food. Chicken pot pie, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, southern fried chicken. The good stuff that sticks to your ribs.
Do you like Tequila?
I love Anejo. I really like Bourbon, so naturally I like Anejo. Both Anejo and Bourbon are aged in white oak barrels.
What is your favorite Anejo?
Oh, goodness. (Turns to Saint’s bartender Lindie) "Lindie what’s the one Anejo you had me try that I loved?" Oh, it was Milagro Select Barrel Reserve.
What are some of your outside hobbies?
Legos. They help me relax and unwind from the stress of the kitchen and the office.
What’s your favorite Saint Anejo memory?
A few months ago during brunch I came out of the kitchen for a few minutes. I like to do my rounds to see how everything is going out on the floor. This young lady walked past me with a look like she was searching for the bathroom, but instead she stopped and said “are you the chef?” I said, “Yes, how can I help you?” She came over and gave me a hug and said, “Thank you, thank you. It is always amazing.” Stuff like that keeps me going. We do not really get recognized in the kitchen for what we do, so it was amazing.
What is something someone might not know about you?
I sleep eat. Apparently in the middle of the night I wake up and make food. Sometimes I will actually cook eggs.
Who is your mentor?
Anthony Bourdain. His adventures are absolutely incredible. The way that he started at the bottom in the kitchen and worked his way up reminds me of myself.
How did you start your culinary career?
I started off as a dishwasher in grade school and worked my way up. I have done every position in the kitchen, on the line, and in the front of house. I have been a bar manager, bartender, server, and busboy. I love cooking, so naturally I knew I wanted to go to culinary school. I always want to keep learning. I try to teach myself something new every day.
Have you ever been to Mexico?
Yes. I have been to a few places in Mexico. Most notably, I really enjoyed visiting Monterey and Zacateca. I love how the cuisines are different in the coast and the middle of the country. The moles, the beans, and the tortillas are all unique to the particular regions.
Executive Chef Jason’s love of cooking is the epitome of passion. His hunger to learn and create new, inventive dishes is continually growing. With an adoration for food, his work family, and Saint Anejo’s guests, Chef Jason serves as an incredible role model to his peers and the rest of the M Street family.