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Chef John

Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2023

Favorite class to teach: Steakhouse DIY

Training/education: BS in Biology from Trinity University; Associates of Culinary Arts at CIA in upstate NY

Cooking since: I started on my 16th birthday in 1990!

Favorite childhood food experience: Learning to make a mustard sandwich

What made you want to become a chef? I fell in love with eating in my semester abroad in 1995 to Ecuador. My mom down there was a truly amazing chef, and had nothing but raw ingredients in her fridge.

What is your signature dish? I love to make a nice Pozole Verde with chicken or pork which has lots of flavor and brightness from the tomatillos.

What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Salt, EVOO, butter, Cajun spice, chicken thighs

What do you love about cooking? I love making people/myself feel amazing with food! Buy some nice ingredients, and cook them up with your heart.

When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? I like trying a new flavor.  If I read about a dish with a new spice or ingredient, I am intrigued. I will read through it and then try to find it at the store.

What advice would you give a new cook? Cooking is a lifetime of experience and learning. Always learn ways to expand on things you know now. I am sure there will be other techniques or processes you can learn to broaden your scope.

What are you doing when you're not cooking? I am enjoying TV, playing a game on my phone, or spending quality time with our two cats.

Describe your perfect evening. Groceries have been acquired, the oven is fired up, ingredients are prepped up and cooked, dinner is enjoyed with a nice fire to close the night out. 

If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? I love Aba and Ema both, so we would be happy at either. Etta in River North too!

Where are you from? Dallas, Texas

What was your favorite vacation? 5 days in the Galapagos Islands when I was in college

What are your hobbies? Cooking, playing games on my phone, entertaining our kitties

What is your favorite band? Widespread Panic

What is your favorite sports team? Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Blackhawks

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Chef Jacques Pepin

What are your guilty pleasures? Pint of ice cream, chocolate bars, yogurt bowl with berries, granola, honey, chocolate and mint

Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Stephanie Izard, I worked at her side in 2000 at Vong!

What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?

  • Sharp chef's knife

  • Sharp pairing knife

  • Mandolin

  • Rubber Spatula

  • Wooden Spoon

What resources would you suggest for students at The Chopping Block? The internet! You can access anything you need more info to comprehend. I would also suggest hands-on training. You can read all day long about a process or recipe, but you will not actually learn unless you buy the ingredients and go through the process. 

List three of your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen.

  • I love to roast vegetables and proteins in the oven. Set it and forget it for a while until it is cooked!!
  • High heat cooking in a sauté pan on the stovetop. It is the art of sautéing, to jump in the pan.  You develop quick flavor with high heat quick cooking. 
  • Smoking meats and veggies on the Big Green Egg. with slow, easy cooking. Again, set it and forget it for a while. 
John's Favorite Tool



Sharp knives! A sharp knife is an essential tool and it makes the cooking process so much easier when your knife can do the task it is needed for.  You will achieve beautiful, clean cuts on your favorite veggies!