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Biography: Chef Jeff Parke

Jeff’s passion for food began the moment he was introduced to the world of cooking.

As a teen, working his first job as a busboy at Famous Pacific Fish Company in Tempe, AZ, Jeff was asked to fill in for a sauté cook one evening and immediately found his calling.

With months and years rolling past and with time and talented mentors teaching Jeff, he learned the intricacies of cooking, including seafood preparation, practical line cooking skills, efficient prep procedures and even more about sauces.

He studied under Chef George Pastor at Hillsborough Community College, in Tampa, learning about Escoffier’s* formal kitchen and the science of food preparation.

Jeff came into his own at Oystercatchers, Hyatt Regency Westshore in Tampa, as Sous Chef. While there, Oystercatchers won the 1996 Zaggat “Best Seafood House in America” award. Jeff also assisted with production of an episode of “Great Chefs of the South” series and gained the respect of quite a few very talented chefs, including Chef Hans Hickel. “This is the one place that I gathered the most knowledge of cooking. It finally started to click,” says Jeff.

As Chef D’ Cuisine at Old Memorial Golf Club – under Chef Todd Bush – Jeff “learned to have fun [and become more creative] with food at this millionaires’ playground.”

The Parke’s moved from Florida to North Carolina in 2000. There, Jeff had his first real exposure to Southern Cooking with his position as Executive Chef at Atlantic Beer and Ice in uptown Charlotte.

During the course of the next few years, Jeff moved on to Microsoft / IBM as Chef D’Partie and Pastry Chef under Chef Ed Adams and then Hilton Hotel as Banquet Chef, where he honed skills to cook in huge quantities. Jeff expresses enjoyment at “getting back into a ‘formal’ hotel kitchen.”

In faith, Jeff stepped out into the entrepreneurial realm – opening Chef Jeff & Co. – in 2003. The foundation of his company is a culmination of all the skills he learned throughout his career.

Jeff began his company as a personal chef service – where, for five years he researched, combined, tested and perfected the marriage of variations of two cooking methods: Once-a-Month-Cooking (OAMC) and Sous Vide (cooking in a vacuum).

The purpose of this research was to prepare seasonal, healthy foods that can be frozen and reheated in a way that naturally preserves nutrition and flavor.

In early 2008, Jeff and his wife, Bobbi, opened Chef Jeff & Co.’s first storefront where they were able to sell their individually-portioned meals at a lower price point, allowing most everyone in the community the opportunity to purchase wholesome meals – which include no preservatives and are low in salts, fats and sugars – take them home, heat them easily and eat within 10-15 minutes.

Besides opening more stores, Jeff’s current calling is to share his knowledge with others as a culinary writer.

*Based on Wikipedia

Georges Auguste Escoffier (28 October 1846–12 February 1935) was a French chef, restaurateur and culinary writer who popularized and updated traditional French cooking methods. simplifying and modernizing previous chefs’ elaborate and ornate styles.

Another of Escoffier's contributions to cooking was to elevate it to the status of a respected profession, introducing organized discipline to his kitchens. He organized his kitchens by the brigade de cuisine system, with each section run by a chef de partie.