Meet Jacob Cooper, Chef Manager for Craft Culinary Concepts
Craft is excited to announce the newest member of our culinary team, Chef Jacob Cooper! As Chef Manager, Jacob primarily provides support to our locations in Tucson, including Reid Park Zoo and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, as well as our Ben's Pretzel trailer at University of Arizona home football games.
Jacob is from the small town of Independence, Oregon. Although he began his culinary career in Portland, OR where he attended the Art Institute of Portland, his food journey began when he was very young. Most of his inspiration came from watching classic Food Network shows such as Good Eats and Emeril Live, as well as shows featuring Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay. Jacob loved how these chefs were able to make amazing dishes from the most basic ingredients. Jacob is an expecting father with his wife, Meghan, and they are excited to have their baby boy, Oliver. He is also a nerd at heart and loves playing DnD and having a great time with his friends.
We asked Jacob to tell us a bit about his background, here's what he had to say:
While in Portland I started school at The Art Institute of Portland in the Bachelors Program for Culinary arts Management with a minor in Sustainability. During this time I wanted more than to just go to school, I felt that I can learn as much or even more in the field, compared to just in my classes. I was taught by 3 James Beard Award Winning Chefs as well as other amazing chefs who had been in their Field for decades. I made a decision that I was going to learn as much as I possibly could while in school, so I got my first job in Portland at Nicholas as a line cook, there I learned so much about Lebanese food and got a real taste at what working a line would be. I learned every position and every recipe I could get my hands on.
I moved on to work with pastries at a steak house called Portland Prime. The chef there taught me so much about cakes, and pastries and it was there I got my first taste on the broiler, and sauté station. I loved making sauces and steaks. It was so amazing and I made so many friends. I got to work with meat for the first time there, outside of class that is, and I loved it and wanted to learn more about meats so I got a job as a butcher at a little market called World Foods down in the pearl district. It was one of my most favorite jobs. I learned about so many different cuts, marinades, rubs, cooking techniques, sausages, and roulades. It was amazing.
From there, I wanted to enter the world of pastries and get a more in-depth look at them so I went to work for Pacific Wild Catering at the convention center in Portland. I learned so many different techniques involving sugars, creams, puff pastry, and so much more. I got to make my first Marshmallow and caramel there. I worked with so many talented pastry chefs here and we made some amazing dishes. I decided to move with my wife to Arizona. We moved to Tucson and I started working at a university sports bar called Gentle Bens Brewing Company. There I got to work at a fast pace and learned what it truly meant to grind. I worked with a very talented Chef named Jonah who taught me so much about the cuisine.
I went back to grocery, with a small market that just opened up called Floras Market Run and became a member of the butchery team. I worked with an amazing butcher with more years of experience than I had been out of high school. Jamie taught me so much, especially about curing meats. This was my first time getting to work with cures and I am so glad that I had him as a teacher. You can actually get some of my coppas, brasoles, chorizo, and fuets at the store now. Now I am here with Craft and couldn’t be happier!