Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, Jason Phan attended the Art Institute for two years while working as a line cook at Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s restaurant in Napa, while at the same time working at a small French bistro in Elk Grove. After graduating culinary school and putting in a year at Morimoto, he decided to work at Roka Akor’s San Francisco location, starting as a line cook for a year before he was promoted to a Robata Sous Chef. He worked at that location for four years and then moved to Chicago to help open Roka’s third location. After proving himself to his peers, he was offered the Head Chef position for Roka’s Houston location.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be musician, from playing the piano to rocking out on the drums.
How did you learn to cook?
From helping my momma in the kitchen when I was growing up. She has taught me a lot about traditional Vietnamese cooking and different techniques.
What ingredient can you not live without and why?
I can not live without salt. Salt helps magnify the natural flavors in a dish. It suppresses the bitterness in food while bringing out the aroma and enhancing the flavors at the same time.
What utensil can you not live without?
I always have my platting spoons with me. The spoons very from large to small, slotted, deep spoon, sauce spoon, etc. Spoons are a great utensil to have in the kitchen for basting a steak to drizzling a sauce for presentation.
Favorite affordable wine?
Bridesmaid Red Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley
What is your comfort food?
My comfort is crawfish étouffee. It is a traditional New Orleans food packed full of flavor and aroma. Usually it is served with a bed of rice and the combo is amazing.
Is there a food you won’t eat?
I tend to stay away from fast food. Because it is mass produced and it has less nutritional value compared to food that was cooked from scratch.
What do you see as the next food trend?
Sustainable food has been improving a lot in the past few years because of new techniques that protect the environment while providing a sustainable amount of product for the mass of the population.
What would people be surprised to find in your refrigerator?
People would be surprised by the amount of different fermented and pickled vegetables stored in my refrigerator. I love to experiment in different types of fermentation and curing processes from different cuisines.
You have 10 bucks until payday. What impressive meal could you make with it?
When I’m on a budget, I always enjoyed making pesto chicken pasta. By utilizing the fresh basil that is growing in my little herb garden. I am able to make a quick and tasty meal.
2929 Weslayan St #100 | Houston, Texas 77027
713.622.1777 | www.rokaakor.com