Harvest Seasonal’s worldly new chef continues to expand Palm Beachers’ palates
Amit Jain had finished an accounting degree at Florida Atlantic University, but things refused to add up in his career path. A friend opening a restaurant in Wellington asked him to help out. “And here we are,” he says, “10 years later.”
Here is the most recent success in his life, as executive chef of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar in Delray Beach. He was born in the Bahamas, raised in Wellington (“My parents still have the house they’ve had for the last 40 years”), and spent lots of time in kitchens including West Palm Beach’s Table 26 (as sous chef and executive chef) and Todd’s. He’s cooked for presidents and entertainers, sports and business celebs, and he finds his center in his passion for food.
“I’m the first generation out of India. … Every day, mom cooks for her friends in her semi-retirement. A chef who knew my mom told me, ‘You have a leg up on a lot of other people, because you’ve had a chance to work with a lot of spices that others haven’t.’ A spice cabinet in India is pretty expensive—and extensive.
“My favorite dish is paneer—a house-made cheese—with a lot of applications from savory to sweet. [My mom] does it better than anyone else, including myself.”
At the end of his long days in the kitchen, Jain goes home to a farm, where he starts a different job with his wife and two young children. “I like doing my yard work and working on my farm—fixing fences, cutting down trees.”
But he knows his day job and his home life aren’t for everyone. “You can have all the training you want, but even now when we see young folks with culinary backgrounds, (they don’t know) how much time and effort is involved in becoming a chef. It’s always good to … work a line in your off-time and see if it’s something you truly enjoy. It’s demanding, high-paced and other things that tend to scare people off. It’s not exactly what you see on TV.
“I would suggest to any home cook that the best idea is to find a great cookbook. If that doesn’t work, go to the next one. You’ll develop a cooking style and be able to execute what you had in mind. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the food. You’ll have some failures, you’ll have some successes.”
Local foodies are glad Chef Amit Jain experimented here; his successes are on our plates.
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar: 1841 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach, 561/266-3239