Beyond the Pass

Published by Jason Wilkinson on

Beet salad in the pass at Parlour Oakland, my first Sous Chef job.

As Pared heads into its third year, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself and share my reflections. My name is Jason, I have been working for Pared for over a year now. After over a decade of paying my dues to the foodservice industry, I was offered the opportunity to give back to the men and women that do the same. I started working here because I believe in this notion: that a food service professional must be paid their worth. I Imagine a day when talented cooks get the freedom and flexibility to travel between major cities nationwide, free to pursue the possibilities that exist beyond the kitchen walls. Creating this dream has been an uphill battle since the beginning but it’s something I am striving towards.

Breaking down chickens for confit on my friend’s food trailer.

When I first started working on the Pared platform, I couldn’t believe the doors it opened for me. I could work doubles four days a week, and take three days off in a row. Suddenly, I went from working six days a week to fulfilling childhood dreams like spending weekends in Yosemite, taking off for my birthday (Valentine’s Day — every cook’s favorite day of the year!), and even taking two weeks off to show my family the Bay Area when they came to visit from Virginia.

I found that I was no longer afraid to leave a restaurant that treated me unfairly and I learned that all of the gigs I took gave me the experience to approach any stage fearlessly. I could walk into any kitchen and get a five minute rundown of where everything is, what I need to do, and who I need to know to be ready for service by the time the doors opened. It was on Pared where I discovered that my skill set was truly valued. I was given so many business cards I had to take them out of my wallet because it was starting to hurt on the rare occasions I got to sit down. After a three month stint, I had made so many new friends and contacts that I took my family on a restaurant tour of San Francisco, receiving discounts and comps from all the smiling faces I had met along the way. All of the hard work was finally translating into something tangible. I had discovered a true meritocracy in the foodservice industry.

Getting ready to run the grill at my brother’s wedding rehearsal. I still get roped into cooking for family functions.

So how do we create a world where cooks and chefs are treated as the professionals that they are? This is the question that we ask ourselves everyday at Pared. With a combined 112 years in the foodservice industry, most of us — whether we now find ourselves in operations or engineering — have asked this question at some point in our lives. The answer starts with changing the way we view this labor shortage, challenging the status quo and uplifting fellow members of the foodservice industry. We plan on shaking things up, and we want to thank you for choosing to join us on that journey, for this is only the beginning.

Categories: Pared Prose

Jason Wilkinson

Jason is a member of the elite forces of the Pared Pro Operations team. Prior to Pared, he was a line cook at Petit Crenn in San Francisco and a sous chef at Parlour in Oakland, CA.

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