John Taube IV is the sous chef from The NoMad Hotel in New York who won the USA regional heat with his signature dish of ‘Squab and a Beet’, containing a massive 51 ingredients.
John will now represent the US at the Grand Finale of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 where he will have the daunting task of trying to maintain the US’s victory for a second consecutive year.
In between his hectic work schedule, he took some time out to explain more about his deeply personal signature dish and what entering this global challenge means to him.
Please describe your signature dish …
The entire dish was inspired by my father (John Taube the 3rd). Last year he was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer and couldn't consume any food orally for almost 3 months. They actually fed him through his nose into his stomach. I was a cook watching his father starve to death and there was nothing I could do about it.
He had major surgery where they removed part of his esophagus and shifted his stomach up 3 inches. When the cancer went into remission and he could finally eat again the only two things he could consume were beet juice and chicken stock. Those where the first two things he tasted after 3 months. That is where the idea for the dish 'Squab and a Beet' came from. My last name "Taube" loosely translates to squab, so the dish made sense and was deeply personal for me.
What made you become a chef?
My Mother’s terrible cooking. My parents both own their own businesses and are at work far more than they are at home. So as a kid we went out to eat a lot or had to fend for ourselves, when it came to our meals.
Who has influenced you in your career?
1. My parents
2. Charlie Trotter
3. Daniel Humm / Chris Flint
4. Ramsi Budayr
5. My girlfriend Michelle Jackson
Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years time?
By 35 I will be pursing one of two goals. To either be chasing my dream of owning one of the world’s best bars OR training to compete in the Bocuse d’Or.
How are you/will you collaborate with your mentor in order to perfect your dish for the Grand Finale?
I have been paired up with the very talented Gavin Kaysen. I had the opportunity to dine at Spoon and Sable last year and really loved my experience. Gavin’s drive is truly inspirational and I am excited to be working with him in the near future. We have spoken briefly about some improvements on the dish already. I am excited to have him guide me along the way. I also plan on working with one of my home town mentors Chef Dave Baran.
What is the most exciting/challenging element of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition for you?
The most exciting part was meeting all of the competitors and judges. This competition really connects people in our industry and I am honoured to be a part of it.
Why do you think you can win the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 title?
I have an incredible life changing story and my dish truly represents who I am as a young chef.
If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
I would be a bar tender.
What’s your most memorable food experience?
My most memorable food experience was actually Christmas of last year. My girlfriend and I have a few friends at Per Se and they had invited us in for our final meal before we moved to L.A. to open the new NoMad location. The food, company, wine, and ambiance were over the top and so delightful.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I am currently in the process of opening a 240 room hotel with 4 kitchens, 4 bars, breakfast, lunch, dinner and all-night room service. So, with that being said “free time” isn’t a thing. However, my lady and I do like to frequent as any of the cocktail bars around L.A. as we can. Our restaurant and bar list has grown quite large since moving to L.A. so we are excited to dine at all of them.