Rathbun Chef Jennifer Newbold on the Rules of the Kitchen, Her Mussels and the Dallas Palate

Categories: Interviews

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Jennifer Newbold has been the chef at Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen for about six months now. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she grew up eating food from her family farm and would like to see an easier way to bring the farm to the table here. She came to Dallas via St. Loius and San Diego, and she makes a strong case on why you should try her mussels.

We sat down with Newbold for this week's interview.

When did you first become interested in cooking?
My grandpa passed away before I was born, but he was a chef. My father cooked a lot too, and growing up in Tacoma, Washington, we would go hunting and fishing regularly. I remember always being in the kitchen with my dad. We'd go pick chanterelles and make a big batch of chanterelle soup. And we always had gardens. We didn't have a lot of money, so we grew a lot of our own foods.

And at a young age I remember going to the grocery store with my mother and she would read the labels on everything to see where it came from.

That was progressive of her. Is she a hippie?
Yeah, she's a hippie.

What made you decide to become a chef?
I really didn't know what I wanted to do until I fell in love with a military man at a young age and realized I needed to find a job. It just kind of fell in my lap, and I realized it was something I had a passion for. And it just kept going from there. I'm self-taught. I learned from the different chefs I've worked with.

What was your first job in a restaurant?
In a huge café and coffee shop in Spokane, Washington. Then I needed a second job, so I started working at Mizuna, which is an all-vegetarian, gourmet five-star restaurant that's been featured in Gourmet magazine. That was where I really got my true passion for cooking. I owe it all to the first chef I worked for there. She was amazing and taught me so much.

Where else did you work?
Well, we moved around a lot since my husband is in the military. I worked at the St. Louis Fish Market in St. Louis, then in San Diego for four years at Blue Point Coastal Cuisine. Then, we moved here and I worked at Jasper's in Plano before I moved over here (to Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen).

After moving around so much, what have you learned about gaining the respect of the kitchen staff at a new restaurant?
By coming in and not being a dictator right off. They know you're going to make changes, they expect that. But, you have to pick your battles. I may have 100 things I want to change, but I can't do that right off because everyone would freak out. And, I really just try to stay positive because this business can really bring you down.


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11 comments
Out-o-Towner
Out-o-Towner

Why are you so worked up over mussels? Such a tough crowd here in Dallas.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Kerg’s Here,     Just wanted to wish you all a merry x-mas!  The new Kerg’s 4.0 is sweet, loving, and like his right wing leaning, Christian friends-likes to bake pies, drink coffee and engage in prayer circles.  The model is well within the guidelines of The Joe Tone standard, and is fully equipped with songs, like:“Jesus loves me”“Our God is an awesome God”An added bonus of the Kerg’s 4.0 is that it is translucent, biodegradable, and uses half the energy of Kerg’s 3.0…….it is also diatomaceous, retractable, and even gives whimsical, gentle thoughts while at company gatherings.  It still employees a “leave no trace” ethic. Note: The swiggin’ Budlight feature, while eatin’ chicken parmesan sandwiches has been disabled!  As has the FOODDICK option.

Love You All.-New Kerg.

Tomas
Tomas

Her comment about mussells makes the entire article worthless. I stopped reading.  I think it is well documented that if anything, folks in Dallas order mussells too often.

BigTex
BigTex

I love mussels, Maple and Motor, The Grape, and Kergo. Of course Ive never eaten at Rathbun but we will someday.Anyway why live in Rockwall? wow, I recall another recent Chef spot for the guy that runs The Screen Door or one of those in that building and he lived in Southlake I think. I feel stupid for living in East Dallas and not having to drive an hour to get to work......

Snack Perkins
Snack Perkins

Dallas is unfamiliar with mussels? Really?

From the Observer:"The quintessential dish of Dallas' current dining scene doesn't have anything to do with peppers or mustard or pickles. It doesn't speak of the people who settled here, or the land they found. None of which has stopped almost every local restaurant with double-digit check averages from serving mussels, a seaborne mollusk that's impervious to direct seasoning. By latching onto steamed mussels, Dallas isn't just snubbing its culinary heritage—it's sacrificing its claim to being a serious and significant food city."

Darren Schmits
Darren Schmits

I read it as she had trouble in Plano serving mussels, not Dallas.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

she sounded as if she cant source more ingrediants bc she lives too far away.  Wouldnt you want to move closer so you could improve the eating experience of your customers.  Im not saying its lazy, just saying it doesnt make business sense

cp
cp

I actually agreed with that part of her article. 

58willie
58willie

Jack, your burgers suck, but the atmosphere is worth the trip.

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