Jason Hineman is a private chef known for his emphasis on sustainability and plant-based cuisine. After graduating from the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, Jason worked for several local eateries as head chef, where he gained valuable industry experience. Driven by creativity and his love for experimentation, Jason specializes in vegan cuisine and has worked hard to incorporate unique flavours into less traditional dishes. Now working as a private chef, Jason enjoys the freedom that his position offers and is always willing to try something new.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Unlike most chefs, I didn’t grow up in a family that really emphasized cooking. We ate family meals together but it was never something that we enjoyed doing as a family. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I gained an appreciation for the culinary arts. My school took a trip to Italy and I was inspired by the culture and the importance of food in everyday life. That trip changed my perspective, and I really fell in love with the idea of becoming a chef.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are always a little bit different. I work as a private chef, meaning I cater events or I host dinners in the comfort of someone’s home. While the process remains the same, I always try to experiment with my dishes. Therefore, it’s essential that I plan my ingredient list well ahead of time and decide where I am going to pick up fresh produce etc.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I work with several other up and coming chefs who always keep my on my toes. They are brilliant young individuals who always have fresh ideas. I always like to run my ideas by them as they often provide me with a different perspective on a potential dish or menu item.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love how many restaurants are incorporating more plant-based cuisine into their menus and are focusing more on sustainability. A lot of individuals are hesitant to visit a vegan restaurant thinking that it can never live up to the flavours that they are so used to. I encourage people to be more open minded and to research how they can contribute to reducing their ecological footprint.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I would have to say my ability to strike a work life balance. I am always on the move, but I also understand the importance of taking time for myself. As a business owner, I decide my own hours, so it’s easy to get caught up in an endless work cycle. However, as much as I enjoy my job it’s not healthy so I make an effort to take at least two days off per week.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to stop worrying so much and just enjoy your experiences. When I was attending the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, I was very caught up in understanding the proper techniques and learning the basics of classical cuisine. As a result, I sort of lost my own approach to cooking. It wasn’t until I graduated that I found my footing and started experimenting with unique flavour palettes.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It’s an unpopular opinion but plant-based cuisine (if done properly) doesn’t lack any of the excitement of traditional dishes. It really is a matter of just stepping outside of your comfort zone and experiencing something new.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I think as a business owner it’s essential to really take a step back from your operation from time to time and re-asses what works and what doesn’t. It’s definitely hard to take a step back and separate yourself from something that you have worked so hard to bring to fruition but it’s also necessary for long-term success. I try to be honest with myself when it comes to improvements I can make within by business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Similar to the previous question, I think that I have made self-reflection a priority. I am always wanting to improve and to be a part of the next big thing. I am always learning and growing from my experiences, and if you aren’t than you’re doing something wrong.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say I have had one significant failure that has helped me re-shape my career but I have experienced low points. The food industry is so competitive that you really do need to stand out if you plan on being successful. I do my best to separate myself in terms of creativity, sustainability, and quality.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I understand that “sustainability” is a major buzz word at the moment, so unfortunately a lot of restaurants are using this term very loosely, without actually implementing eco-friendly programs. I think either a website or an app that could direct our focus to what exactly specific restaurants are doing to help the environment would be extremely helpful. It would allow consumers to see what is being done so they can make more informative choices when it comes to where they choose to dine.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I actually recently bought a subscription to a vegan culinary magazine. I think it’s a fun way to see what’s new in the industry.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I recently started using Cheflit, it allows my clients to browse through my offerings and book one of my available time slots.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, a really thought provoking take on how we justify eating animals.
What is your favorite quote?
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” – Steve Jobs
- Trust your instinct when it comes to your talents
- Make self-reflection a weekly habit
- Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.