Chefs from New Orleans, LA always represent the city well on Chopped. Past winners include Ms. Linda Green, “Fireman Mike” Gowland, chef Matt Murphy of the Irish House and chef Andy Scurlock. A few weeks ago, we watched Gason Nelson, another talented chef from “Nawlins,” hold his own against other contestants on the show. Despite not winning Chopped, he displayed his extraordinary culinary talents and passion for cooking. We caught up with Chef Gason (@ChefGason) to learn more about him and his experience on the show.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking?
GN: I got my start by watching my dad cook for our family. However, what really sealed the deal was being a cook in the Army.
FP: When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
GN: I think becoming a chef picked me. I didn’t pick becoming a chef. It is something that I’ve always done and is what I’m very passionate about.
FP: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
GN: I enjoy putting smiles on people faces and making them happy.
FP: Name some chefs that have inspired you.
GN: Aside from my father who is not a chef, Jamie Oliver and Marcus Samuelsson have always been my biggest inspirations.
FP: Share with us your experience on Chopped.
GN: I was invited to participate in the show and of course I said yes. After casting was completed they flew us to New York for filming and we shot the show for about 16 hours. It was an amazing experience that really pulls the creativity out of you.
FP: What was it like to compete with the other chefs?
GN: I didn’t compete against anyone but myself. The only thing that concerned me was the items in my basket and the time I had to prepare the dish.
FP: What will you remember most about the experience?
GN: The clock! That clock is for real!
FP: You’re so right about the clock! Every time Ted Allen counts down, we get so nervous and we’re not even competing. We cannot imagine the pressure you and the other contestants were under.
When you are home, what are some of your favorite meals to cook?
GN: I like making my own breads, pastas, gnocchi and grilling steaks.
FP: If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in New Orleans or other cities you’ve visited.
FP: Miami and New Orleans are on our list of places to visit. If we go, we’ll make sure to check those spots out!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
GN: My guilty pleasures are foie gras and sushi.
FP: Those are foodie pleasures for sure!
Name three individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.
GN: Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan. I would allow them to select the items from a mystery dinner basket.
FP: Those are great dinner guests. If you ever cook for them, make sure to invite us over! 🙂
In three words, how would your friends and family describe you.
GN: Driven, passionate and committed.
FP: We definitely saw your passion on Chopped!
If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? Any non-cooking hobbies?
GN: If I hadn’t become a chef I would have pursued playing tennis. I also like to work out and go bike riding.
FP: Thank you Chef Gason so much for your time. We wish you continued success!
Chef Gason Nelson cooks scheduled dinners at Rare Cuts and is the personal chef to NFL star Reggie Bush. For more information on Chef Gason, visit his website www.chefgason.com