Braddock's American Brasserie in Pittsburgh is known for its eclectic menu of globally-inspired comfort food favorites and handcrafted cocktails. It should come as no surprise that its executive chef, Jason R. Shaffer, is known for his creative, innovative dishes and a love of locally sourced ingredients. Recently, the Bradford, PA native answered some questions about his two-year tenure at Braddock's and his life-long love of cooking.
When did you start cooking?
I started my career at the age of 13, working for a local Howard Johnson’s hotel restaurant. It was an eye-opening experience and my first exposure to the culinary world.
Who was your mentor?
Joseph Friel from the Beau Rivage and Roberto Hache from France.
What are you known for?
I think I’m known for creativity and adaptability, there is nothing we will not do for our guests to make their visit a truly memorable one.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I love the creativity as well as working with such an amazing team of culinarians. The dishes we bring to the table are a true sign of the passion we bring each day.
What is your favorite fish to work with? Why?
Any white fish, snapper, walleye or bass. They are all very neutral and can be pulled into any direction from a culinary standpoint.
What do you do for fun? What's a typical day off for you?
My typical day off is all about family. I have an amazing wife and an 11-year-old son. We are all very into the culinary arts. If not hunting or fishing, we’re always looking for new food adventures. We spend a lot of time scouring the Strip District for novel ingredients and new inspiration.
Why do you work with Land & Sea?
Land & Sea has the best customer service and hands down the best products in the city. The quality can’t be matched and, as a chef, this is paramount.
Three things always in your refrigerator/pantry at home?
Sambal Oleak, a plethora of assorted vinegars and condiments. We buy and cook daily so we have a vast stash of mise.
Favorite book/movie/TV show?
• "Devil in the Kitchen" by Marco Pierre White
• Any of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, they make us laugh.
• "The Walking Dead" – my son and I watch faithfully.
How do you want to be remembered?
As an amazing father and person and a great chef.
What is your favorite/signature dish?
I am more of an in-the-moment chef. Currently I’m in love with our Bouillabaisse Rouille. The broth and seafood are a perfect addition to the garlicky rouille.
Any ingredients you won’t work with?
Anything that isn’t fresh. I make everything in-house, so I would never compromise a dish with any pre-processed products.
What's your favorite part of the Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is truly a special place with a huge foodie culture that in recent years has made the city a culinary destination, and that is so exciting as a chef! It’s also a great place for raising and having a family.
If you could cook for anybody in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Justin Wilson. As a kid, my father and I would watch his show before church and write down the recipes, then attempt to make them for dinner. We had many successes and also a lot of failures, but always laughed while doing it. This definitely ignited my culinary creativity. He was talented and very funny.