Oct 29, 2010

5 Questions With Jasper Mirabile Jr.

The Zagat 2011 survey was recently released, including some surprises (like Oklahoma Joe's being rated best overall restaurant).

Maybe not as surprising was the publication's pick for best Italian in KC, which went to Jasper's, the eponymous outpost of the highly visible, active and energetic Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr. No stranger to awards, the restaurant had also recently taken the award of Best Tableside Dish 2010 from The Pitch for their Mozzarella. Prior to all this hoopla, I chased down Chef Jasper to get some insights into his food, his philosophies, his goals and his life in a little game I like to call 5 Questions:

You’re a chef who’s very much in the public eye, doing demos in Kansas City and recently in Italy. You’re on facebook and twitter and even in front of customers at the restaurant with your famous tableside mozzarella. Why is it important to you to be so visible? Marketing is my life.  I love to cook, I love to meet people and I combine it all by marketing myself and promoting Jasper's.  Whether by radio or TV, it does not matter, I am everywhere.  I never turn down an event or cause.  I love to be at the local farmer's markets doing demos or at The Hen house teaching class.  As chef ambassador for Wisconsin Cheese, I get to travel everywhere and talk about cheese.  What a life.  I have met so many interesting people along the way. Captain Phil on The Cornelia Marie and Captain Johnaton from The Time Bandit...I worked on their boat during filming for the Deadliest Catch.  Traveled to New York to cook at The James Beard House this year...my fifth visit. Worked for American Italian Pasta Co. and cooked in Times Square for World Pasta Day. TV every Monday with NBC Action News Midday.  I have cooked with Giada, Paula Deen, worked with Red Gold Tomatoes, Farmland, Certified Herferd Beef, Eggland's Best etc...too many to name. I am head of Slow Food KC and on the biard of American Inst. of Wine and Food along with VP of Midwest of Gruppo Ristoratori Italiano.  fRadio show every Saturday...not a paid advertising...tKCMO owns the show and I am the host!   It is my life, my passion and my love! I am finishing my third cookbook, On The Cannoli Trail.  All desserts, you will love it! 

What have you been cooking lately… that is NOT Italian? Asian dumplings...I am obsessed with them.  Also roasted pig and pork loin in my La Caja China. (www.lacajachina.com)

For those who aren’t familiar, describe the difference between typical Northern and Southern Italian food, in which type are you rooted and why?  If you asked me this question two weeks ago I would have said Southern is more peasant style and North is rich with the bounty of Italy.  After retuning from Italy yesterday, I can say this is SO TRUE.  In Bologna, Parma and Modena last week, we ate so much butter, Parmigiano Reggiano and cream. All the food was so rich.  In Sicily, where my famiglia is from, we eat a lot of bread, olive oil, goat, pasta and fresh seafood.  All light and fresh.

You moved from Waldo to 103rd. How do you like the newer location and are there any plans for expansion? We love the newer location...all under one roof.  So easy to manage.  Business here is about 40% more than the old Jasper's.  We have such great access from 435 highway and  Johnson County.  No expansion...we are big enough.  Maybe a Mobile Cannoli Truck. That would be cool.

Give me a little-known-fact about Jasper Mirabile Jr.  Ha!  I cannot make a grilled cheese sandwich for the life of me...I always end up burning them.  My wife and daughter think this is the funniest thing.   I love BBQ and I crave pies...along with cannoli!!! 

His enthusiasm jumps off the page and is just as apparent in person. Jasper's is located at 1201 W. 103rd Street.


Perry P. Perkins said...

FYI...La Caja China and I have (finally) released our first cookbook, "La Caja China Cooking." Lots of traditional Cuban recipes, as well as Southern US favorites, and a few from around the world!


- Perry

Anonymous said...

Interesting interview!

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