EatDrinkJax.com takes a moment with Chad and Ian of Ovinte.
20. Where do you like to eat when you're not at Ovinté?
Chad: Taverna San Marco and Orsay are great. I love both those restaurants. Taverna has been one of my staples for the last year and a half or so.
Ian: There are many great places around Jacksonville to eat but to be honest I would rather spend time with my family and eat a meal my Mom has prepared. I spend a lot of time away from my family so I cherish the time I get with them.
21. Ian, can you tell us about your background?
Ian: I was born in Denver, Colorado but spent much of my childhood moving around – living in beautiful climates like California, Ontario Canada and even in Hull, England. While most kids would deplore this much shifting around to new schools and cities, I embraced it – absorbing as much of each culture and cuisine as I possibly could.
Ian: I fell in love with cooking at the age of 10 while helping my mother and grandfather prepare holiday meals; learning first how to make their traditional holiday appetizer, and family favorite, p-rox. At university I studied Hotel and Restaurant Management then enrolled in Johnson and Wales University back in Denver to learn to be a Chef. The reason I became a Chef is definitely because of my mother. I loved to spend time in the kitchen with her growing up. Through university I landed an internship at the Bistro Aix in Jacksonville, working under award-winning chef Tom Gray. I worked my way up from an intern to Executive Sous Chef in a few years time, specializing in butchering, grill and catering functions. Following Bistro Aix, I spent time as a consultant, helping new restaurants establish their menus. I missed being in the kitchen though, so I returned to the scene with an Executive Chef position at the Chef’s Garden catering company, which led to where I am now as Executive Chef of Ovinté.
22. How would you describe your style of cooking?
Ian: It's what Chad called "scratch to table." I like to combine my global experience with fresh, seasonal and whenever possible, organic ingredients to create unique and tempting tapas. Over time my cooking style has evolved to a less is more type of approach. Use the best possible ingredients and enhance their flavors. Cook regionally. I try to create and or recreate recipes to make them my own.
23. What do you like most about being a chef?
Ian: I really enjoy cooking for a number of reasons. The main one is that instant gratification I get when I prepare something and our guests enjoy it. I get an incredible feeling when I see someone enjoying the food I have created.
24. Chad, can you tell us about your background? And for people who don't know, can you tell us what exactly a sommelier does?
Chad: In layman's terms, a sommelier is just a fancy French word for someone who knows something about wine. Basically it's a fancy word for the wine director. In our case it's the person who oversees the wine list and makes the decisions about choosing the wines we carry. I'm also responsible for training the staff on the wine list and keeping the wine list up to date.