Chef Jamar Adams grew up in Prineville, joined the Army as a young man, was deployed in Iraq, and ultimately became a member of the Army's elite Special Forces. Upon his retirement from the military, Adams spent time thinking about his next move before deciding on a second career as a chef. He put himself through Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland before moving back home to Central Oregon. Below are excerpts from our recent conversation with Solomon's at Tetherow Executive Chef Jamar Adams.
- Kyle Lancaster
- Solomon's at Tetherow Executive Chef Jamar Adams.
Source Weekly: From Special Forces to food isn't the typical transition.
Jamar Adams: I was getting ready to get out of the military and was thinking about how I had always enjoyed cooking. When I was little, I was so excited to go to my grandma's in The Dalles at Thanksgiving. She was a great cook and it was three days of eating myself into a coma with all those pies and all that food. When I think of my passion for cooking, I think about her. I also loved to cook for my friends in the military. I asked myself what I would like to do for the rest of my working life that I would really enjoy getting up and doing every day? After months of hard thought, I decided to go into the culinary arts. Being in the military is a tough job and I was thinking about how I would like to do something a little more relaxing. Being a chef is not as easy as I thought it would be, but it's a different kind of stress. There's no deployment or separation-from-family stress, but it's definitely a day-to-day grind in the kitchen. Just keeping the menu fresh is stressful, for example.
SW: How do you keep things fresh and creative?
JA: A lot of times I draw from the people that come in and eat and make comments. Also, in the Special Forces, I had the opportunity to travel to places like Asia, India, Germany. I was eating real food with soldiers in those countries and I think it developed my palate extremely fast. I try to draw from those places and things I ate there and bring it home to the Northwest and make it my own.
SW: Sourcing is important to you.
JA: Yes, it's very important. One of the main things I think about when I menu plan is what I can get right here in Central Oregon. Number one, it puts food on the table of the local farmers/ranchers and builds great relationships, and two, it challenges me as a chef to use what I can get here.
- Mike West
- Grilled Peach Burrata, a summer favorite on the Solomon's at Tetherow menu.
SW: What are your favorite dishes right now?
JA: The Wagyu Carpaccio on our current menu at Solomon's. It's made with extraordinary local beef from 2 Sisters ranch in Tumalo. It's a great dish with shaved black truffle, watermelon radish, endive and arugula salad.
Also something that I brought with me from culinary school: Sole Meunière, which is a classic French dish to which I've added a rice pilaf and broccolini. I don't think I'll ever be able to take it off the menu as people would run me down!
What we're selling the most of right now is the Grilled Peach Burrata with grilled peaches, thinly sliced burrata cheese, arugula, prosciutto, a balsamic reduction and a wine vinaigrette.
Our handmade pasta changes weekly and can be anything from gnocchi to ravioli to squid ink pasta. I'm self-taught on rolling pasta which means there has been a lot of trial and error. I do one piece at a time, so it's labor intensive but I think I'm getting pretty good at it after a couple years now.
- Mike West
- Wagyu Carpaccio featuring 2 Sisters Ranch beef.
SW: What do you love about being a chef?
JA: When somebody takes a bite of something and they get that look on their face of "WOW!" It's like the food goes straight to the soul. Eating is a time that people share together and I like to be a part of that. I take it very seriously and it gives me joy. But I have to give credit. The whole reason I'm able to do what I do is because of the people I work with and my family.
SW: What about your future in food?
JA: A personal goal for me is a James Beard nomination. Just being nominated would be amazing. I also want to introduce more foreign cuisine on my menu, maybe a monthly tasting menu. I haven't brought that up to my boss yet though! (Laughs.)
Solomon's at Tetherow Resort
61240 SW Skyline Ranch Road, Bend