Jason Hineman Discusses His Role As a Private Chef and His Focus on Sustainability

Jason Hineman is a Vancouver-based chef celebrated for his high quality cuisine and focus on sustainability. 

After completing his education at the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, Jason pursued several opportunities at small local eateries, where he took the time to harness his cooking abilities. Having worked under some of the industry’s top chefs, Jason began experimenting with less traditional ingredients, including plant-based dishes. Wanting to explore and create his own menus, Jason eventually decided to branch out on his own. Currently working as a private chef, he loves creating menus for public and private events.

What is your current role at your company?

I currently own and operate a private catering business. I design plant-based menus for a wide-range of events including, large corporate gatherings to small, intimate dinners with just friends and family. I oversee all daily operations from menu planning to ingredient and produce pick-ups. I work alongside a talented team of individuals who inspire me to experiment outside of my comfort zone.

What was the inspiration behind being a chef?

I did a lot of traveling before attending culinary school. In high school, I took a trip to Italy, and that opened up my eyes to the culinary world. Before university, I visited several south Asian countries and as a result, my menus are often heavily influenced by those flavors. I enjoy curries and spicy chutneys. I find that they can add a lot of excitement to dishes that lack meat or fish. While traveling I was taught how to make many traditional dishes and I use those as a base for some of my creations. I enjoy being a chef. I love the freedom and I love experimenting with different ingredients.

What are the keys to being productive that you can share?

To put it simply, do what you love. It doesn’t matter how organized or efficient you are, if you don’t love your job, then you’ll never be as productive as you can be. Trying new things is always challenging, and it can be hard to follow your passions. Follow your instincts but also be smart about it. Take the time to develop a plan of action and be sensible about your next steps.

Can you share a long-term career goal?

I think eventually I would like to open up my own restaurant here in Vancouver. The city is a great spot for food lovers and in my opinion has some of the best restaurants in the world. Opening a restaurant focused on plant-based cuisine and sustainability would be the ultimate goal for me looking to the future.

How do you measure success?

By the number of opportunities to grow. It’s important to do what you love, but it’s also important to keep learning and evolving. I started out working in small local restaurants before I gained enough experience to venture out on my own. I like to set realistic goals and keep working my way up.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

I would have to say the importance of developing strong professional relationships. Cultivating a positive work environment is number one for me. I want my employees to come to work and feel confident in their skills and their job. I want them to come to me if there is ever an issue and to trust my judgment calls. I value open communication and at the end of the day, your staff will give back what you put in. I also want to stress the importance of openly communicating with clients. There is a certain level of trust that exists between myself and my clients. I want them to have faith in my skills and ability to deliver optimal results.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

When I am not in the kitchen I really enjoy nature walks. Sometimes a stroll through the woods will actually inspire a certain dish. I like to use local produce and because I am all about sustainability I do my best to use the ingredients found in nature and those that are native to my area.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

I utilize technology wherever possible, whether it be through mobile apps or spreadsheets. Organization and time management are absolutely crucial in my day. I need to be sure that I have all the necessary ingredients to execute the menu I am making that day.

What’s been the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Not knowing what path to follow in my professional life. I have always loved cooking and cuisine but I never knew that it could provide me with a stable job and income. I was really confused about my direction before attending university, but ultimately studying what I love helped me make my final decision.

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