Chef Jay Moore, instructor at the Culinary Institute at Platt College wasn't always going to be a chef. Since his father was a dentist, it was always assumed that Jay would follow that same path and he was groomed for that from an early age. But he eventually realized dentistry wasn't his true passion - that was food, something he discovered when he worked in restaurants while attending OU.
Eventually his grandmothers intervened and convinced his parents that cooking was a honorable profession. That is when he was truly able to begin living his passion.
He started working at Interurban restaurants in Norman, College Station and Austin, Texas for about five years before attending The Culinary Institute of America or CIA for short.
After graduation, he went to New Orleans for about a year and a half and tried working in a few hotels, but discovered that the vigorous, nonstop action just wasn't for him.
“I found that I’m not a hotel guy. It’s like the beast that never slept. There was always something going on.”
He added,” A lot of people really dig the hotel life, but I prefer to have a little more autonomy and flexibility.”
From there, he transferred back to Austin to work briefly in another hotel and then with Chef Jeff Blank at Hudson’s on the Bend, which he considers to be the pinnacle of his career from 1990-2000.
“We had cooking classes and wrote a cookbook and had a sauce company. It just didn't get any better than that.”
After he left Hudson’s he went to the coastal bend of Texas and opened a restaurant called Aransazu, which is Basque for “Is that you in the stickers?"
Apparently the legend goes that a sheepherder in the Basque region had a vision of the Virgin Mary in a thorn bush.”
The restaurant featured upscale American Cuisine and would even cook fresh fish that customers would catch and bring in. It just had to be “pan-ready,” which meant skinned, cleaned and ready to cook.
While he hadn't intentionally set out to teach per se, a majority of his career to this point involved teaching. From teaching cooking classes at Hudson’s on the Bend or teaching the cooks at his own restaurant, it just seemed to come naturally to him. So, teaching at Platt College was a perfect next step in his career. He thoroughly enjoys imparting his knowledge to the next generation of chefs.
He particularly likes to teach everything about how to make a wonderful sauce, but also how to make things as economically as possible, while keeping them flavorful too - something that will definitely come in handy as his students begin their careers.
“I tell my students that cooking is the fun part of the job. Costing things out is the practical part of the job.”
When I asked him about his favorite ingredient to use, his answer went back to his love of teaching.
“Probably pork or chicken because it’s something the students will use often.”
And of course, with his background rooted in using southwestern flavors, he likes to expose them to the layering of different flavors.
As far as his least favorite ingredients goes, he does not like iodized salt. He says he can taste it. He much prefers using kosher salt.
“Most of us eat enough seafood that we don’t have to have that extra iodine from an outside source.”
But other than that, he is open to try just about anything. He attributes that to the fact that his paternal grandparents had a garden and he was always exposed to a variety of veggies that he was required to try.
He can remember mixing mayonnaise with curry powder and putting that on Brussels sprouts to make them more palatable.
Chef Moore said that is he could cook for anyone, past, present or future, he would like to cook for family members for whom he never really had a chance to cook when he was younger like his dad, both grandfathers, aunts, uncles, etc.
Chef Moore has generously agreed to share a soup recipe from Aransazu.
Artichoke Sherry Soup
- 2 cans Roland artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 3 c. rich chicken stock
- 1 bottle (750ml) Sherry
- 2 T. garlic, minced
- 4 T. red onion, minced
- 1 T salt and white pepper
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 3 T. olive oil
- Cornstarch slurry – mixture of cornstarch and water, 3T to 3T
- *Sauteed mushrooms and Tarragon (dried herb or fresh-leaf)
Over medium heat, sauté garlic and onions in olive oil until onions are translucent. Deglaze pan with 1c. sherry and reduce by ½. Marinate drained artichokes in 1 c. sherry for 20 minutes. Add chicken stock to pot with onions and garlic. Bring to a boil.. Reduce to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Strain sherry from artichokes (retaining artichokes) and add the strained sherry and heavy cream to stock mixture Bring to a boil and add some of the cornstarch slurry. Whip soup and return to a boil to check consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in artichoke quarters. Add more sherry if desired.