Chef Jason Sullivan
The executive chef of Roux selects Down to the Bone BBQ in Brandon
Hot plate: Barbecue chicken and ribs
How long have you been coming here, and how did you find out about it?
I’ve been coming here since 2010 and it’s one of my favorites. My girlfriend has family out here so we come all the time. It’s a staple in Brandon—a true mom and pop place.
Why is this the best barbecue in town?
Mark, who runs it, has been doing it for years. He’s really humble and claims he’s not a chef. But anyone who has been doing this as long as he has, and as good, is a chef in my book.
How did you get into the culinary industry?
I graduated from Scotsdale Cuilnary Institute in Arizona in 1999. I worked at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix as an intern for a while. There were 125 cooks there, so it was overwhelming. But I learned a lot in a short amount of time. In 2010 I moved to Florida. I bounced around for a while—helped open Ciro’s, worked at the Tampa Club in the Bank of America building, and ended up as a sous chef at Datz for a few years.
How did you get involved with your current restaurant?
I had left the company for a few years and worked at Jackson’s Bistro and the Marriott Waterside Hotel and bumped into Suzanne Perry around Christmastime. She said if you’re ever unhappy, you have home with us. Three days she called and said ‘what’s it gonna take to get you here’. Then she hired me as executive chef.
How would you describe the cuisine at Roux?
We try to be as authentic as possible. But we push envelope and make sure you’re not ordering your mom’s plain jambalaya or gumbo.
What’s one dish you’ve got to try?
The voodoo wahoo—it’s served with grits and our house Roux sauce. I also like the praline-crusted redfish. But you can’t miss with the jambalaya and etouffee.
What’s one ingredient you can’t live without in the kitchen?
Whole unsalted butter.
What’s one food you won’t eat?
I’ll try anything once.
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
When I’m really craving something, I go to Ciro’s and get their duck fries. It’s fries cooked in duck fat.
What are you doing when you’re not in the kitchen?
Be a dad—and that’s a full time job right there. I like to check out new restaurants and be in the scene and meet chefs as much as I can.
If you weren’t cooking, what would you be doing?
I tried to not cook for a while and it stunk. Those were the worst years of my life. But I think I’d be brewing beer.
Which cooking competition show would you most enjoy competing in?
I would be honored to be on Top Chef. But for purely entertainment value, Kitchen Nightmares.
If you could cook for anyone dead or alive, who would you choose?
Tom Brady—I’m a huge Patriots fan.
If you had to pick a runner-up barbecue joint, who would you choose?
Ribits—it’s a good late-night spot when you’ve been on South Howard for a bit.