One of the surprise bonuses of parenthood is that you get to meet friends through your children, so many fun, thoughtful, inspiring people who are going through exactly the same transitions and life events that you are. On the first day of school, I find that I’m looking forward to reuniting with the other parents at drop off as much as my girls are to see their friends. Jason and Jen Denton are the perfect example. We met 7 years ago (!) when their son Jack was in kindergarten with Belle. Jason is a restauranteur who began his career at Lupa, and now owns two delicious and stylish Italian places, Inoteca on the Lower East Side and Corsino Cantina in the West Village. Corsino was the site of our Fall shoot, which was great. The lighting was perfect, the setting was cozy and welcoming to the girls, and our host was as generous as ever. In addition to being a father and running a successful restaurant, Jason is launching a catering business, which means all of us get to serve his unreal fried brussels sprouts at our next dinner party. Here’s what he has to say about food, family and the perfect family meal.Thanks, Jason!
Q. Tell us about your restaurants
Corsino is my neighborhood trattoria. Early in the night I love that it’s full families with kids sharing pasta and relaxing. As the evening rolls on, we get a younger crowd sharing plates before they head out for the night. Indie is an upper west side cafe located inside of the The Film Society at Lincoln Center. During the day it’s fast casual dining, filled with Julliard students. At night it turns into a wine bar offering small plates and cocktails. We try and cater to the theater and opera goers. ’inoteca is on the lower east side and has been around for about 10 years serving Italian inspired small plates and a great wine list covering all of Italy’s regions. All of my places have the same spirit. We like to offer delicous and affordable food in a warm and fun atmosphere while taking on the vibe of neighborhood.
Q. Where do you find your inspiration for the menu. It’s always changing, and always great.
We’ve always found it’s important to have a core set of menu items that our guests love- our staples they can count on. Then we can be creative with the rest. One of the most fun aspects of the menu is using the market for inspiration, especially this time of year when it is in full bloom. It all comes down to my love and spirit of Italian cuisine and culture.
Q. How has having a father who’s a chef affected your kids palate?
I’d say they they go through stages, as they have matured their tastebuds have become more adventurous and they have become really hand’s on. My youngest is wild about black bass and both of them crave an arugula salad with olive oil and salt. It’s one of those things, where the more they are exposed to, the more they will try new things and that’s all we can hope for as parents!
Q. Who does the cooking at home, you or Jen?
Since this is my profession, it’s something I’ve aways enjoyed and Jen gave me the reigns. Over the last 5 years, Jen’s taken a real interest in healthy cooking, exploring new cook books and trying new recipes. She’s really become quite a good cook on her own and she’s always been a fantastic baker, something I am not so great at.
Q. You’ve started a catering business! What kind of events are you doing?
Yes, we’ve been catering for about 2 years now and the type of events range from large scale weddings and fashion launches to intimate dinner parties and starting this fall we will be offering corporate drop off lunches & dinner. It’s a project I really believe in because we take our love of seasonal and simple food and make it accessible for special occasions.
Q. Lastly, will you share simple recipe, or a foolproof dinner plan, that both parents and kids love?
A one pot dinner is always the way to go when we are in a pinch for time, especially during the school year. I love a pork loin with onion, carrots and butternut squash served over rice. To prepare the pork, we do a dry rub, equal parts sugar, salt & black pepper . For a 2lb pork loin, it’s 2 tablespoon of salt, sugar and black pepper. Rub the pork generously with the rub. Add – 2 Tablespoons of EVOO and 4 cloves of garlic. Get the pot hot and sear the pork loin. Once it has a nice color on the outside, throw your chopped veggies in there ( onion, carrots, squash), they should be cubed. Give the veggies a little bit of color, that takes about 3 or 4 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 tablespoon of honey & 10 sprigs of thyme. Next, add 1 cup of brown rice and 1 cup of water to the pot. Bring liquid to a simmer than put a lid on it and stick in oven – 375 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 min, place on top of stove and let rest for 15 minutes. Do not remove the lid, it’s going to continue to cook, keeping the pork moist and rice fluffy. When the table is set and you are ready to sit down, take off lid and slice pork and spoon out the dish! Easy, healthy and full of flavor.
jason’s social media !