Creatives Near You: Tom Jackson [Staff Chef at All Things BBQ] | Bringing Design Home

Creatives Near You: Tom Jackson [Staff Chef at All Things BBQ]

I can’t tell you how excited we are to be bringing back one of our favorite series; Creatives Near You. Once a month we will be highlighting some of our closest creative friends, or people that we hope to get to know a little bit better, and see how they juggle their creative careers and family life. Some of them are married with kids, while some of them are single. Some of them are working full-time pursuing their dreams, while others are building capital and experience to take the leap and leave their more corporate jobs. Either way, we hope you come away inspired, equipped with some tools that might help you on your way, and the realization that
“creativity” comes in many different shapes and sizes.

It’s hard to believe that I (Meg) have known both Tom and his wife Kristy for nearly 11 years! Throughout that time we’ve shared some awesome and awkward high school prom memories, dorm room drama in college, marriage, and kids… oh my have we grown! ;) The thing I respect about Tom and Kristy is that they have not let married life get in the way of pursuing their dreams. From traveling the country while Tom chased his music career, to up and moving everything and everyone to live in the Northwest, they’ve made sacrifices that although I’m sure were tough at times, have strengthened their relationship and given them so many different life experiences.

It’s these experiences that shape you as a creative being so when I found out that Tom was pursuing a career in the culinary arts I was super pumped to see how it would all develop. Although Tom and Kristy don’t live in the Northwest anymore, they’re a little bit closer to family (which I’m sure the Grandparents LOVE!), and enjoying Tom’s new position as a Staff Chef at All Things BBQ (ATBBQ) in Wichita, KS. All Things BBQ is a family run business that offers professional grills, smokers, outdoor kitchens, accessories, barbeque sauces, rubs, injections, marinades, and fuels. I asked Tom to share a bit more about what new services and products ATBBQ will be offering to customers now that he’s on staff:

“I do a lot of the legwork for our cooking classes; creating and testing recipes, planning menus, shopping and prepping for the classes. I’m also documenting a lot of this recipe creation/experimentation and building content for our All Things BBQ blog, The Sauce. As we move into our new kitchen this month, which is attached to our retail store, I will be able to cook for and talk to our customers on the weekends, and show them what they can create and produce at home with the products we carry in our store. As well as a new teaching kitchen, we are adding an outdoor kitchen and patio, where we can use the grills and smokers we sell in the store and further interact with our customers.” – Tom Jackson

Q1) Describe your process for developing a new recipe?

The internet is an amazing resource for inspiration. I often find myself browsing food blogs, like your friend Ali’s “Gimme Some Oven,” and something will strike me, or send me in a certain direction; be it an ingredient, a combination of elements or a specific technique. From there it’s just using what you know about food and cooking technique, trusting your instincts, and experimenting. Sometimes it’s a disaster. Sometimes it’s a home run.  Some other blogs I enjoy are Homesick Texan, What Katie Ate, and the Saveur website. I really believe creativity births creativity, and other folks’ art is sometimes just what you need to spark a new idea.

Q2) List a few factors that played a key roll in the growth and development of where you are today?

Years ago my wife and I shared a one hundred year old home in Grand Rapids, MI with four of my best friends and bandmates. That old house was so cold in the winter that we hung blankets from the doorways and used space heaters to heat small areas. I began baking pizzas and breads from scratch, in part for something to do while home from touring, but also to heat that freezing house. When the band called it a day, I needed to pick a new direction, and cooking and baking seemed to be calling my name. Kristy and I headed to the Pacific NW, so I could attend culinary school. I owe a lot of my growth and passion for food to my time in Portland, OR. I was blessed to spend time at Oregon Culinary Institute and study the technique and creativity of some very wise chef instructors. My fellow classmates became a network of friends and cooks who are so creative and ambitious that it pushed me to want more for myself. I learned a great deal working under a few guys at Ken’s Artisan Bakery, as well. That place really shaped my desire to put out the best product I can, and always put my best foot forward.

Q3) What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts?

Get in the kitchen, and get out of your comfort zone. Learn from others, whether it’s in school or on a line. It’s all about putting in time and effort and stretching yourself.

Q4) How do you balance working a lot of evenings and weekends while maintaining a healthy and happy home life?

This question may not suit my new life well. The beautiful thing about my new gig with ATBBQ is that, for the most part, I don’t have to sacrifice family time for work. This is the first time in about six years that I’m working a “normal” schedule. The toughest part about kitchen life is probably the hours. I’m feeling pretty good about this new schedule, as are Kristy and Thatcher.

Q5) Between you and your wife who does most of the cooking at home? Who does the dishes?

I do most of the cooking, and we both do dishes. She does more than her share of work in our home, and I’d never complain. I’m a lucky man!

Q6) What is your favorite grilling gadget/utensil, why do you like it, and where do you get it?! 

ThermaPen. It’s a quick read thermometer for your meats. It’s probably the easiest way to improve your cooking. Hitting the right temperature on any type of meat will instantly make it better. Plus they look pretty sweet. They come in a variety of colors.

Q7) List 3-5 of your favorite family-friendly food related hangouts? 

In Portland, a couple of our favorite family friendly places were Fat City Cafe in Multnomah Village and Lucky Labrador Brew Pub in Northwest Portland. Fat City does straight up diner food. It’s all comfort, and all about the fam! The Lucky Lab has killer beers that you can’t buy anywhere else, and great pizza. And my son LOVES pizza, just like his old man. Here in Wichita, we’ve been hanging out at Wichita Brewing Company. Good pizza and beer. Also, The Monarch in Delano. Great from-scratch food, good drink selection, and pretty family friendly during the day.

Q8) What is your #1 guilty pleasure food?!

I don’t know how guilty I feel about it, but I have a hard time turning down a slice of pizza, ha! I guess that’s just pleasure food…

If you are near Wichita, KS look for Tom at Amber Waves, Friday, May 16, 2014. It’s a beer walk and tasting tour through the Delano District. All proceeds go to support Starkey Inc. and ATBBQ will be cooking on the patio while folks enjoy the beer tasting and live music. I’m also really excited about their weekend grilling classes and think they would make a great Father’s Day gift, or fun groom gift for the future! ;)

Thanks Tom and Kristy for letting us into your life a bit and hearing more of your story and about how you got to where you are today. We’re very excited for you guys and glad you are back in the Midwest! ;)

Keep up with Tom and All Things BBQ by visiting their website and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

From The Farm

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About meg:

I like curly lines, and the simple joys of life. Good coffee and the perfect souffle.

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