Chef Jones, who grew up in the midwest, fondly recalls the bountiful family garden that annually produced gorgeous produce for their table. Food was an integral part of her identity, and she spent countless hours visiting markets with her father and even became quite adept at both catching and cleaning fish after long afternoons on the water. Allison was definitely not afraid of worms. Not to be outdone, Jones’s mother was a triple threat in the kitchen and could frequently be found baking, canning and preserving, while her Hungarian grandmother was blessed with legendary pastry skills.
Needless to say it sounds like this young lady was destined for a career in food, but she actually ended up in fashion design and occasionally supplemented her design work with restaurant jobs. Surprisingly though, Allison sought work in the front of the house. As time progressed she found it hard to continue to deny her cooking obsession and in 2010 enrolled in the California Culinary Academy.
These days you can find Allison preparing full-flavored meals, many of which are vegetarian, for Munchery. Her commitment to using seasonal ingredients and producing menus with serious flare will undoubtedly make her a customer favorite in no time. Now, in her own words, please allow Allison to offer you a little more insight into her foodie focused life.
What’s your earliest childhood memory of the kitchen? Did you bake cookies? Snap green beans in half? Make popsicles?
My earliest childhood memories of the kitchen take place in the house I lived in until I was seven. It had this big, sunny kitchen and I would watch as my mother cooked and baked. The smell of fresh baked baguettes still takes me there.
Which celebrity chef would you most like to cook with and what would you want to prepare?
Alton Brown. He is such a wealth of food science knowledge. I would want to make something intense and complicated so I could soak up some of that knowledge.
Your cousin from out-of-town has a long layover at SFO. He hops in a cab and texts you wanting to know the one thing he has to eat in the city before he rushes back to the airport. What do you tell him?
For a quickie stop in our fair city, I would say to enjoy something quintessentially San Franciscan. The tourist-laden location notwithstanding, the Eagle Cafe has awesome views of the bay, a bit of old-school charm, some tasty San Fran seafood classics, and of course, cold Anchor Steam.
Do you feel as though you have a signature dish? If so, what is it?
I guess if I have a signature-type dish it would be my pulled-pork with peach bourbon bbq sauce and house-made bread & butter pickles. It always seems to be a hit and is often requested by my friends!
Invite five famous or infamous folks (they can be alive or dead) to your dinner party. Who are they and what will you serve them?
Johnny Cash, Julia Child, Kool Keith, Pablo Piccasso, and Tim Gunn. Tapas and a barrel of sangria!
Which of your cookbooks has the most pages covered in olive oil and flour i.e. which one can’t you live without?
That’s a tie between two. One is this older Hungarian cookbook that my parents had when I was growing up. I refer to it often and dirtied it up real good practicing Dobos Tortes. The second is How to Cook Everything by Mark Bitman. I don’t own it, but I check it out from the library all the time & renew it as long as I am allowed to. It’s sort of become my bible. I should really buy that cookbook….
In your opinion, what are a few ingredients that we should definitely shop for at farmers markets and which should we leave to the supermarket aisles?
I always say get whatever you can at the farmer’s markets, not just because they are consistently offering awesome product, but because it supports smaller, family farms. That said, anything that you plan on eating raw, with simple preparation, or preserving should definitely come from farmer’s markets, because then you can really taste the difference in the freshness level and flavor of the product. Of course, one can’t find everything at the farmer’s markets, so the supermarkets do come in handy!
Which newly in-season product are you most excited to start slicing and dicing?
Right now I’m loving the stone fruit: apricots, white peaches and such, but I’m really anxious for the tomatoes to come around.
Think back to to your high school cafeteria days…what lunch lady “delicacies” used to make it onto your plastic tray?
For some reason, which is inexplicable to me now, I always looked forward to the Chicken Patty Day. They were always seasoned well and tasted so good on a bun with mayo and lettuce. Also, they came with mashed potatoes and gravy, which I’m still a sucker for to this day.
There are so many amazing food-centric films. Which one makes you hit rewind over and over again?
Goodfellas. The prison scene where Big Paulie’s slicing the garlic with a razor blade. Classic.
If we peeked inside your fridge right now what would we discover?
Right now, busy as I’ve been, my refrigerator looks like a sad, neglected place. However, there’s lots of sauces, chili pastes, and pickled things.
What ingredient do you least like to work with?
I absolutely hate cutting onions of all kinds. It’s painful!.
What’s your favorite place to brunch in the Bay Area?
On a sunny Sunday, I love to grab some friends, a bottle of bubbles, mimosa juice, some sandwiches and snacks from Bi-Rite and stake out a spot in Delores Park for a picnic brunch!
What artist or album do you like to rock out to while you’re cooking?
I usually listen to archives of WEFUNK online. It’s a radio show out of Montreal that plays old-school hip-hop, funk, and soul. It keeps me moving in the kitchen!
We don’t know about you but we certainly hope Chef Jones whips up a batch of the pulled pork with bourbon and peach sauce that she described above very soon! You can check out some of Allison’s past meals and reviews on our website and order her food online this week.
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