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Perhaps you’ve met Jason before. If you’re a regular market-goer, chances are you’ve at least seen him bouncing around the stalls, engaging farmers and selecting the finest goods, while waiting for his blades to be sharpened. As Jason will be joining us in fine form next Friday, to appear as our guest chef for the Fermentation Festival “After Party,” hosted by the Flash, we thought we’d take a little time to get to know more about the man with the “local food” plan; the man “stepping out” from behind the conventional professional kitchen doors.

All throughout the evening’s festivities next Friday at the Flash, beginning at 5:30pm, you’ll be able to feast upon Jason’s artfully composed dishes, featuring the freshest of market fare. After all, why would we settle for anything less, when we are so lucky as to be carried by our Farmers’ Market, to simply one step away from the very source of our food? After talking with Jason at market last Friday, right in the very heart of that food source, as it were, it seems that we’ve found our common ground. It’s all about the food.

For such a busy fellow, Jason certainly makes it a priority to spend good time procuring the finest, freshest ingredients. Upon our interview, in fact, Jason was, himself, fresh from the Reading Terminal, sourcing some Sea Bass for an event he was to be cooking for, later that evening. His next and final stop was the Kennett Square Farmers’ Market, to pick up some additional goods, and have his blades sharpened to the T.  In addition to maintaining a full time career as a restaurant chef at a renowned establishment, Jason has recently launched “Once Upon the Palate,” his own private catering business. This endeavor has given him the opportunity to create something truly his own, while putting that which he holds to be the most important at the forefront: local food. The way Jason describes his reasoning behind using such local food outlets as the Kennett Square Farmers’ Market to source his ingredients, seems to be akin to that of a steward, or shepherd. “I need to be able to work with a food from the beginning. This is about respect for the food, its origins, and bringing it from point A to point B with my own hands.” For Jason, obtaining food from its source is more about quality control than anything else, as if with each set of hands a single ingredient passes through, en route from source to plate, a little bit of its vitality, and therefore quality, were lost.

These same values hold true in Jason’s foray into becoming a personal chef: “Using local ingredients also has an educational component to it; it’s an opportunity to educate my clients about where their food comes from, and why it tastes so much better to get it fresh.”

Considering all this talk of the origins of food, and the importance of knowing its “narrative,” it makes perfect sense that Jason’s new business be called “Once Upon the Palate.” Perhaps as a society that is becoming more aware and attuned to where our food comes from, and understanding the importance of the process it has taken to get from its source to our plate, we are seeing the role of chefs and food purveyors to be likened to that of storytellers; communicating the story of taste, its moral local and fresh.

Be sure not to miss Jason’s craft in finest form next Friday, October 1st, beginning at 5:30pm at the Flash, where he will be serving up his menu of local fare, right alongside a full spread of local beer and cheese, followed by a folk concert at 8pm, featuring artists from the renowned Philly Folk Parade. This event is the grand finale to our Second Annual Fermentation Festival, which is to be held in the regular market space, from 2-6pm, featuring “live” fermentation demonstrations and special guest vendors, ranging in fermented fare from chocolate to pickles; kombucha to kimchi. Come see what “culture” abounds!

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