Sous Chef Jennifer May Part 2
Chinched offered a whole new style and world of cooking and cuisine. Based on her previous work experience Jenn felt like she had mastered the skills required of her in the kitchen, it took being exposed to her new responsibilities and a new style of food to understand what truly encompassed being a chef. While it may have been a tad stressful settling into her new role at the time it’s obvious she’s been able to meet and exceed the expectations of everyone she’s worked with.
Settling into a new job can be a stressful experience but Jenn took it all in stride. One of the most important things she realized was that, “no matter what your past experiences or success’ are, you need to recognize that every day is a learning experience. You’ll never know everything so approach your job with an open mind and recognize that you’ll learn something new every day.”
And that’s exactly what she did. Learning under Chef Hussey has been a great experience and has certainly helped to expand her knowledge of food and fine dining. Being involved in a new restaurant since day one also exposed her to what’s involved in opening and running a successful kitchen and restaurant. All in all she says she wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
In her quest to master everything new and exciting Jenn decided to try her hand at making Charcuterie. Chef Hussey always had a passion for Charcuterie and happened to buy a book by Michael Rhulman and Brian Polcyn aptly titled, “Charcuterie” so she took a good look at the book and decided to give it a go.
When Jenn first began working on Charcuterie the offering at Chinched was much different than what it has become today. At the time we offered a plate with a single Charcuterie item, since Jenn has taken over it’s been expanded to a platter of four different items ranging from cured meats and sausages to freshly prepared terrines and pates.
Her very first Charcuterie item was Andouille, a Cajun style hot smoked pork sausage. It was more of a success than anyone anticipated. Next she tried her first cured item with Spicy Coppa, spicy cured pork made with paprika and chili cured over 4 months, and again it exceeded everyone’s expectations.
The dramatic increase in the popularity of our house made Charcuterie was largely unexpected. Initially it was attractive to Jenn given that it was new, something unique to the city and offered nearly limitless variety. With the unique items that inhabit our charcuterie board on a regular basis such as tongue, heart, pork face, head cheese, it has been a pleasant surprise that St. John’s is in no way hesitant about trying new things and the charcuterie has soared to one of the most popular items on the menu.
About a year after the restaurant opened, Jenn was promoted to Sous-Chef of Chinched Bistro. The change brought with it more responsibility and an expanded role in the kitchen. While she had previously offered various features and special menu items such as Charcuterie and her house made pasta she was now responsible for the menu as a whole. The menu currently in place is a collaboration between Jenn and Chef Hussey. Each item starts off as a basic concept or flavor combination and the Chef’s debate it until they’re both happy.
With her new role and responsibility she gave herself a list of culinary goals for the year and was able to accomplish them all. From Charcuterie items like Tuscan Salami, N’Duja Sausage and Moose Mortadella to menu items like our Roasted Bone Marrow, Squid Ink Cavatelli and Pork Trotters were all thought up and executed by our Sous Chef Jenn May. And since their inception they’ve all been mainstays on our menu.
Two years later, Jenn has too many fond memories to list. From peeling piano’s to hosting Shaun and Michelle’s engagement party to the feeling of working on a busy night when everything is going well and everyone is in their groove it’s been a great experience. Sad to say that this chapter in the history of Chinched is soon coming to a close.
At the end of September Jenn will be moving to western Canada to begin a new chapter in her culinary career. She was offered and accepted a position at the popular Charcut Roast House under chefs Connie DeSousa and Jack Johnson in Calgary. This is a huge move for Jenn and we couldn’t be more proud, if the past is any indication she will be nothing short of spectacular in her new position. While we are going to be quite sad to see her go and she will be dearly missed we wish her nothing but the best of luck.
Jenn you brought Chinched Bistro to where it is today. We wish you all the best, although anyone who knows you knows that you don’t need luck. You’re a phenomenally talented chef and wherever you go from here you will be successful. But wherever you end up in life know that you’ll always be a part of the Chinched Family!