Q&A with Chef Brandon Hudson

Jason's Deli Corporate Chef, Brandon Hudson, was recently named United Fresh Produce Association's 2019 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winner for the Quick Service Restaurant segment!

The program honors chefs and their companies for their creativity in highlighting fresh produce on their menus, introducing diners to new flavors, and presenting creative ways to enjoy fresh produce.

We are so proud of him, and his accomplishments. So, we decided to pick his brain a bit!

Q. What led you into culinary arts?

Well, growing up my dad was a martial arts instructor and always taught class pretty late. My mom was in pharmacy school until I was in early high school and was studying a lot. Our dinners would be things my dad brought home after work. So, eventually I started making dinners, and was really into cooking cajun food and tropical island food. 

I knew I wanted to go to culinary school by the end of high school. But, my family and I thought it would be better for me to go to college first, so I went into the business program at TCU with a few friends from high school, and ended up nearly failing out. That’s when I found the nutrition department and a food management major, and connected with a mentor who helped me a lot. 

I graduated from TCU in 2005 and went to culinary school in New York.

Q. Where did you study and what was the best lesson you learned?

TCU and then the French Culinary Institute in New York. The best lesson I learned was to stay humble and always treat people with respect. I’ve worked in some pretty volatile kitchens with a lot of yelling and screaming. One of the restaurants I worked at while I was in Spain was one of the best in the world and it was so organized and professional. Everyone loved working there and had so much passion for what they did. It really amazed me how great they treated their workers, and I realized what great leadership truly was.

Q. What is a typical day for you in the Jason’s Deli test kitchen?

Any and every day is different. Mornings typically start with breakfast with the Food Team and talking about the day and any large decisions that need to be made by the group. And then, throughout the week we taste a lot of new products vendors send us, as well as work on continuing to improve the quality of our food. 15-20% of my job in the kitchen is new product development. Most of what I do revolves around making our current products better and finding better alternatives. I also work closely with our purchasing and marketing departments.

Q. Of everything you make, what’s your family’s favorite?

I make a smoked tomato soup that my wife really likes. My youngest son really likes barbeque. And my oldest son loves to make eggs and pancakes with me in the mornings. They all really love different rice dishes I make, such as Paella.

Q. What unusual spices/seasonings should we all try?

I’m a fan of any and all spices, but I think it’s important to know what fresh spice mixes taste like, compared to what you find in the store. I encourage everyone to find spice mix recipes and make their own at home, toast and grind it themselves, and see how much better and fresher it tastes. Lately, I’ve been into flavors of the Middle East. There’s so much flavor that is unique and different to what we’re accustomed to.