Chef Q&A: Jesse Schenker

By Channaly Oum
Channaly Oum
Channaly Oum
August 19, 2013 Updated: October 8, 2018

Jesse Schenker, chef at Recette, shares some insights into life in the kitchen and beyond. See article about Recette here.

Epoch Times: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Mr. Jesse Schenker: Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a chef. I was fascinated with menus as a kid, and would ask my parents to bring home menus from wherever they went. I asked for a Kitchen Aid and a knives for my birthday [about 8 years old].

Epoch Times: What is one of your significant childhood memories of food?
Mr. Schenker: Cooking with my maternal great-grandmother Nana Mae. She cooked with love and without abandon. I used to help her prep carrots, onions, and celery for soups and stews. To this day, the smell reminds me of her.

Epoch Times: What is your approach or philosophy to cooking?
Mr. Schenker: I’m very ingredient-driven and technique is very important to me. My first thought about creating a dish is how to make it scrumptious.

Epoch Times: What’s your current favorite ingredient to play with?
Mr. Schenker: Right now, sea urchin.

Epoch Times: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen in the kitchen?
Mr. Schenker: I’ve seen a guy cleaning a hood fall into a fryer, legs first.

Epoch Times: What did you do?
Mr. Schenker: We threw him legs first into the ice machine. The fryer had been off for a hour but was still pretty hot, giving him second-degree burns on his legs. He recovered. But was in some serious pain for a few weeks.

Epoch Times: When you’re not cooking, what do you enjoy doing?
Mr. Schenker: Playing the drums, going to Pearl Jam shows, and hanging out with my 2-year-old son, Eddie.

Epoch Times: What’s an under-rated/under-the-radar restaurant in NYC?
Mr. Schenker: Crispo.

Epoch Times: What current trend do you find worthwhile?
Mr. Schenker: Sophisticated yet elevated bar food, like Buffalo Sweetbreads

Epoch Times: What trend do you find overhyped?
Mr. Schenker: Ramen.

Channaly Oum
Channaly Oum