After culinary school in Minneapolis and nine years in the restaurant business working under 2-star Michelin, chef Daniel Patterson, chef/restaurateur Kent Rathburn at Abacus and numerous high-end hotels including the Hilton, Hyatt, and Warwick Melrose among others, Chef Judd Servidio decided to start my own catering business.
A small operation at first quickly grew with word-of-mouth and after a few years was offered a full-time position with John Paul and Eloise Dejoria, owner of Paul Mitchell and Patron Tequila as their private chef.
Now with over 17 years of cooking, Chef Servidio takes us through his journey as a private chef.
Why did you decide to get into the culinary industry?
I took some food courses in middle school and high school. Being an athlete I was always hungry and I enjoyed making things
What made you decide to become a Private Chef?
It was planned. I had worked 9 years in the restaurant industry and was a little burnt out. I had traveled a bit and got a desk job for a year. I was completely out of my element behind a desk. I decided to start catering small parties and events. I also taught cooking classes and did some food styling. After a few years of being on my own, my friend had a business card in his office. My boss’s wife was in that doctor’s office and happen to be talking about how she needed a chef. He gave her my card and 9 years later I’m still with them.
01| Kona02| Eggplant Parmesan03| Faux Marrow
Has there been a notable chef, travel, space or experience that has inspired you throughout your journey?
I have been blessed to be able to travel on a yearly basis either domestically or internationally and that has definitely inspired me. Daniel Humm I think is one of the chefs that has really inspired me as well. Dining at a lot of these Michelin restaurants has also inspired me to keep pushing. The one that continues to propel me is not only the great ingredients and local produce but the drive to keep telling myself that I have to compete with these great restaurants on a daily basis because my boss can go to any of the best restaurants around the world whenever he wants and I want him to always come back knowing he has one of the best.
You have worked under 2-star Michelin Chef Daniel Patterson for nine years (1 year,) what is the most important lesson you took away from that experience?
Attention to detail, focus, and concentrating and maximizing the flavor of just a few ingredients in a dish.
You have cooked for various notable individuals from John Paul and Eloise Dejoria, (My current boss for over 9 years) owner of Paul Mitchell and Patron Tequila, to the former President of Mexico Vicente Fox. What has been your most rewarding opportunity whilst a Private Chef?
I have spent the last 10 summers in Malibu, CA being able to cook with the great ingredients of California. I have cooked for many celebrities, and also had the opportunities to travel to other places. With all of these wonderful experiences, I think just being an employee of JP and Eloise have given me the freedom and budget that allows me to continue my growth and maturity as a chef and allowing me to basically cook whatever I want.
03| Potatoe Foundue04| Lamb05| Salted Caramel
As a Private Chef, you must get various requests from clients. What has been the most unusual and memorable dish you have ever been asked to cook?
A divorce party. It was one of my first parties I did on when I started off on my own. This guy threw a party for his divorce and he wanted really bachelor food. Frito pie, hostess cupcakes, “ramen”, and a few other dishes I can’t remember.
Being a chef comes with its challenges. What has been the most challenging turning point in your career? How did you overcome it?
I think every cook or chef has challenges mentally and physically. It is a hard career and I think everyone asks themselves should I do something else? Whether the pay, the hours, the demand, stress, boss, etc… It is tough. You always come back to your passion. Even if you step away like I did, it somehow finds you if it was something you were meant to do.
How has your heritage/culture, travels, and career journey influenced your culinary style?
From an early age my aunt had flown us over to England when I was 8, later when I was 10 I went to Switzerland, Italy at 14, and in my adult life, I’ve now been to many European countries multiple times. Because of that, I definitely tend to go towards European-American influences, but being a private chef you really have to be able to do it all.
You are located in Austin now. How would you describe Austin’s food scene?
Has really grown in the 14 or so years I’ve been there. When I moved here there were only a few restaurants that were good. Now they pop up every week with a new place. The level of cooking in major cities has been definitely raised in the last 5-7 years in my opinion.
The motto is still Keep Austin Weird, the food has definitely become diverse, but it is still Austin at its heart.
Finally, what is your ideal food, beverage, music and atmosphere pairing?
Multicourse tasting; a mixture of Alabama Shakes, Leon Bridges, and Zeppelin playing in the background; a great bottle of Caymus or Frogs Leap; great friends and family; and a great view. ♦