All about Jason Licker
Photo by: Jason Michael Lang
I'm so honored to tell you a little bit about the celebrity chef Jason Licker.
Winner of Iron Chef Thailand Pastry Edition, James Beard Nominated Author, Jason Licker, is pushing pastry to another level. His passion for pastry, life and travel has taken him across the globe for a true culinary experience. His first internship was at Union Square Café in New York while training at the French Culinary Institute’s Pastry Arts Program. Offering to work for free at first, Jason earned a pastry cook position in the world renown Jean Georges Restaurant, an experience which prepared him for his first Pastry Chef position at Metrazur for Charlie Palmer at the age of 23. Jason, then opened the The Shore Club in Miami Beach, where he was promoted to Executive Pastry Chef, overseeing all Food and Beverage Outlets including Nobu Miami Beach, where Jason was first exposed to Asian Cuisine
Jason utilizes sweet, salty, sour and bitter, while combining textural contrasts and temperature difference, to create his own style of Asian inspired, palate-challenging pastry. In 2004, as Executive Pastry Chef of The Peninsula New York, Starchefs.com named him a Rising Star Chef. Jason left the United States for a life and series of professional adventure in Asia helming Executive Pastry Chef positions at The Westin Bund in Shanghai, The Venetian Macau Hotel and Resort, The JW Marriott Hong Kong and was the former Corporate Pastry Chef of Cé La Vi restaurants (Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore). With over twenty years cooking including twelve years in Asia, Jason is debuting his greatest achievement, his first cookbook, Lickerland: Asian-Accented Desserts by Jason Licker, which was the only self-published cookbook nominated for a James Beard Award in 2017. Lickerland was also named #2 Asian Cookbook in the world, at The World Gourmand Cookbook Awards in May 2018, in Yantai, China. Jason is working on his second self-published book, “Baking With Licker,” fusing his love for home baking with his passion for Asian ingredients.
How did you get into the culinary field?
I got into pastry and baking when I was 19 years old, so I started a bit late as compared to many that have enrolled in culinary schools early. I was in college studding to be a high school English teacher, yes, I was Mr. Licker while student teaching. This wasn't just about how I got into to pastry, but it was a turning point in my life when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Upon this shocking news, my life changed in more ways than one. My mom was placed on a special diet of low carb, low fat and low salt. Since there wasn't much in supermarkets at the time, we decided to start baking together. I found a lot of joy and fulfillment baking and started to fall in love with pastry. While our first creations were inedible, we stuck to it and eventually learned to make some decent tasting banana bread, chocolate cake and cookies. That is how I fell into pastry and baking.
Red Fruit & White Chocolate. Photo by: Jason Michael Lang
How do you decide about the dishes you're creating?
It is more of a creative process of balancing your palate. I love using salty, sour, sweet and bitter flavor to create a new dessert experience rather then sweet on sweet. I often start with a season item, then build from there. It just comes together in my mind, then on paper, then to the plate.
What is your favorite dish from everything you're creating?
I love creating everything and have my hands dirty in every aspect of pastry. I do not favor one item over another as I see them all being equally important.
Chocolate & Chinese Five Spice. Photo by: Jason Michael Lang
Yuzu Florentine. Photo by: Jason Michael Lang
What kind of music do you listen to, while you're cooking?
Growing up in the grunge era I listen to a lot of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Sound Garden, but also love Rage Against The Machine and some old school like like The Ramones and Led Zeeplin. I need music to get the blood flowing and ready to rock .
Do you have someone you would like to cook and serve a dish you have prepared? Which dish will you serve?
Every single person I serve is a VIP to me. No one is social when you treat everyone like it is the last plate you will ever serve.
Do you have a culinary muse?
No, I reply on myself to create and push myself outside the box. I do not like to follow trends of the same boring garbage you see online.
If you were not in the culinary field, what do you think you would be?
I think I would either be teaching or become and actor or something to that extent. I love making people laugh and smile.
Is there any award you haven't won yet and you would like to win?
No, I do not need any awards or recognition. While, yes, those are nice, I am just want to be happy each and every day doing what I love.
What is your culinary dream?
My culinary dream is having a TV show just doing what I do around the world. I love to travel, cook and talk to people. Perhaps one day have my own place then roll it out al lover the world.
How has the Corona Virus affected your business?
It totally wipe out my whole year as a traveling Chef. I am pretty screwed, but while this has happened, I can focus on my second self-published cookbook, Baking With Licker: Home Baking With Asian-Accents. We are heading into uncharted waters and everyone is worried, including me. I know things will always workout, but there will be some serious changes in the industry, especially for pastry. I will make sure to push hard as I can to get events back on track and make sure my work shine.
What are your plans for the future and where can we eat your dishes?
I plan on doing events all over the world (if I can) after Baking With Licker is released on Amazon.com and my website. So you have to stay tuned and see where I will be cooking to get some Licker.
Strawberry_ConsummÃ©_with_Vanilla_Udon. Photo by: Jason Michael Lang