Why We Love Jason Neroni
Jason’s style is one of harnessed unpredictability. He’s a cowboy, a force of nature, a brilliant artist who can deftly translate the precision of sous-vide to scratching a record.
“I love the day-to-day challenges of being a chef. There is no such thing as minutiae. Everything changes every day.”
“I’ve been cooking 24 years now, so Rose is a culmination of what I’ve done so far in my career. And I like painting a very big picture!”
How does a chef get their start at Disneyland?
I grew up in Orange County, California, where Disneyland is located. And I think most kids growing up spend most of their time there or trying to work there. I really wanted to be a ride operator. But, as luck would have it, the only job opening was in the kitchen at Club 33. So I spent my first summer as a fruit cutter, cutting up watermelon, cantaloupes and pineapples, making Jello and ranch dressing. That was my first introduction to cooking, and it just grew from there.
Why did you decide to settle in Venice?
I think I settled in Venice because when I was a kid I used to come up here a lot and go skating and surfing. It's this epicenter of creative and progressives at the same time. It's laid-back but there's this huge tech industry and there's seriousness behind it. But, you know, people here get it.
How has the culinary scene in LA evolved?
Los Angeles has changed and grown immensely in the 20+ years I've been cooking. I think a lot of people used to look at LA as a culinary bastion of sorts, you know, fast food and not much more. But there are so many chefs that have come home to cook really great food. There's a huge melting pot of different cultures that are definitely coming together. I used to think of New York as that, but I think LA has kind of taken over.
You used to own a Vietnamese restaurant in Portland. How did you approach opening Saucebox?
Not being Vietnamese or having been to Vietnam, and still being interested in the cuisine, I relied solely on my experiences of eating at restaurants and my prowess of a chef. I did my best to interpret and honor traditions and still make it my own at the same time. That's how I approach all my food to this day. I'm pretty known around LA for my carbonara, but when I started making pasta I'd never been to Italy! So, no matter what I'm cooking I try to put my best foot forward to honor a culture's traditions.
How has the process of coming to an icon like Rose Venice and making it your own been?
This year is The Rose's 40th anniversary. It's always been a cornerstone of the community since its inception in 1979. It was an honor and huge undertaking to try to reimagine and grow upon what it once was. There's a lot of respect in the community for it. The Rose is more than a restaurant or cafe: it's a meeting place, it's a place to have a wedding, it's a place to have your best friend's birthday party, to have a date, to just feel inspired and work—there are people here writing things from cryptocurrency to movie scripts. It was a rewarding and daunting experience.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I love movies, specifically sci-fi. If I wasn’t a chef I could definitely see myself doing something in movies, something in Hollywood. Maybe prop design or set design. The Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite sci-fi movies!
Explore Upcoming Trips with our Tastemakers
Oaxaca with Justin Bazdarich
From thriving food markets and farm-to-table hands-on cooking experiences to standing atop Zapotec pyramids and immersion into the local arts, this is a Mexican serenade for the senses.
Vietnam with Jason Neroni
Street markets by scooter, the best street foods, modern art and ancient temples, we'll experience Vietnam from every angle with Chef Jason Neroni.
Portugal with Jamie Malone
We'll go deep into Portuguese culture and cuisine: azulejo tiles, Fado music, sparkling wines and vintage ports. Explore taverns and markets, vineyards and farms, and sail through the world’s most gorgeous wine country.