Each month we feature a Chef of Chef Works. If you’re a fan of Chef Works gear and are interested in being featured, email email@example.com. Pictured above is our July CoCW, Chef JJ Boston, in his Montreal Cool Vent™ chef coat.
Chef JJ Boston might have the coolest gig in the world. His job is to basically hang out with friends and grill. And people pay him handsomely for the privilege.
After bucking the life of a corporate chef, Boston turned his passion for cooking on the Kamado grill into a thriving business. With two brick-and-mortar locations in Indianapolis, Boston, 42, hosts corporate events, grilling classes and is also a private chef. He took some time to chat with the Chef Works blog about his origins in the business, his bustling urban farms and his new book, “Go Kamado”.
Where does the love affair with the Kamado grill start?
JJB: I was born and raised in Spokane, Wash., and started in my early 20s as a corporate chef. And because I was the young, single guy at the time, I moved around a lot. After about 17 years of that, I got burned out and I decided to start my own personal chef business. I’d go to your house and cook for you. One time I went to a client’s house and they asked me to cook on a Kamado. I was like, ‘Fine, I’ll cook on whatever.’ It was the best-tasting food I’d ever made. And these were recipes I’d been executing for 20 years. I know what my beef tenderloin is supposed to taste like and it was better than anything I’d made before. I immediately fell in love.
How did you start incorporating that into your business?
JJB: We decided to open JJ’s Back Yard first. And we set it up very much like, well, a backyard. People come over and get a unique dining experience. We sell the Kamados out of locations also. We host classes, corporate events, wine dinners, beer dinners or just private dinners. Because we don’t operate on a restaurant platform, our pace is significantly slower. I get to teach people about the grill, the right way to prepare everything and solid culinary technique. We promote an environment that is inclusive, relaxed and serious about food, but not serious about ourselves. So yeah, I guess you could say it’s like hanging out at the grill with your buddies.
How did the urban farms come about?
JJB: It started as a little 12-by-12 plot at our first home. It was more like a Zen, relaxation thing for my wife. She was looking for her happy place. She really got into it and now it’s a big part of our business. We started looking at houses for rent that were smaller houses on larger plots in old-school neighborhoods because the soil hasn’t been treated. We’d snap up the house and work the land and grow a ridiculous amount of food for our clients. Last year about 70 percent of the produce our clients consumed was grown by us. I think that ended up being about 12- to 14-thousand pounds. We have a full-time farmer and a preservation expert. Harvest does not wait. If we can’t use it fresh that week, we’ll preserve it or pickle it and turn it into something we can use.
Tell us about the book, “Go Kamado”.
JJB: Essentially, I’m the only person in the world who cooks on these grills on a professional platform so I guess that makes me qualified to write a book. I’ve got thousands of tested, proven recipes. We’ve been hosting classes for more than a decade. And because we don’t operate on a restaurant platform, we don’t have the proprietary recipes that some restaurants might want to protect. It was released in May and it was picked up nationally. It’s pretty cool to be able to say ‘available everywhere books are sold.’ Of course, it’s also on Amazon.