Today we’d like to introduce you to Jordan Neal.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My culinary journey started when I was around 8 years old. I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen, prepping dinner, or baking apple pies. Sometimes I would pick recipes out of my Grandmas cookbooks too! My favorite thing to make was the peanut brittle! I would bake chocolate chip cookies with my dad and sometimes help chop vegetables for dinner with my stepmom as well. When I was 15 years old I started baking a lot more! If you had a birthday and it was a school day, I would be right there with the cupcakes! One day I remember my friends saying to me, “Can you bring more to school? Even if it’s not my birthday?!” Of course, I said “yes!” and that was the start of my professional culinary adventure.
When my senior year in high school came around, I knew deep down a traditional four-year college education was not the path I wanted to take. Instead, I enrolled in a baking and pastry introduction class taught by Chef Eric Crowley and fell in love with everything to do with flour, butter and sugar! My journey continued up until high school graduation. That following October, a once in a lifetime job opportunity came to me, all thanks to a presentation put on by a local Venice chef, Joseph Miller, owner of Joe’s; previously located on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA. The presentation was about the Culinary Institute of America and all the opportunities it can provide. At that time before enrolling at the CIA, you needed a minimum of six months hands-on experience, and Joe’s felt like the perfect opportunity. My father helped me connect with Chef Miller and the next morning I had an interview! A pastry job in a one-star Michelin restaurant! “How exciting!”, I thought. I went in for the interview and from that moment on, Chef and I hit it off and he asked me to come back later that night to work a shift on the pastry line. Chef Miller was the first chef to put his trust and faith in me and I am forever grateful! From that moment, I was working side-by-side with Pastry Chef Paper Hartman. Paper taught me the ins and outs of how to run a pastry kitchen and design a menu. A year and a half passed, and I finally decided to apply for the Culinary Institute of America. Sitting at home with a huge smile on my face, I read my acceptance letter a few weeks later! My start date was finally just six months away!
Meanwhile, an opportunity to work at Wolfgang Puck’s premiere restaurant, Spago of Beverly Hills, came to me and I decided to work there for the 6 months prior to starting school. I had the greatest experience working for Chef Della Gossett. She was an amazing chef, leader and teacher. Spago was truly a special place where lifelong friendships were formed.
I finally started school in January 2014! During my time at CIA in St. Helena, CA, I was able to work with a multitude of chefs, ranging from Certified Master Bakers to Competition Champions. During my culinary school externship, I had an incredible experience and was blessed to work at a three-star Michelin restaurant Manresa, located in Los Gatos, CA. After graduation from the CIA, I decided to move back home to Los Angeles. Immediately, I started working at the Four Seasons Westlake Village, where I gained further knowledge in larger scale food and beverage knowledge.
In 2018, I decided to start baking and catering events as a side business to fulfill my personal creativity when it comes to pastry. From that point,
J’s Cravings became another passion. I have had the opportunity to make some amazing cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, and retirement celebrations, as well as a 3-tier wedding cake accompanied with a “Build Your Own” charcuterie buffet for the wedding guests. I have had 8 years to soak up knowledge in our industry and feel like I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. I cannot wait to truly express and show the world my vision of my culinary empire! With the support of my friends, family, and clients, I know there will be many moments for us to bond over custom culinary experiences from J’s Cravings.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My journey has not been smooth, however, with every bump there was a lesson to make my path in the future just a bit smoother. Starting at such a young age in the industry, it was an advantage because I have the stamina and agility to move quickly in a kitchen. Due to my extrovert personality and work ethic, I have earned a lot of unique opportunities. These opportunities have all had moments with hard lessons and moments of complete joy. There have been tears, yelling and injuries along the way. But on the other side of those moments, there is a lesson at the end. Chefs have a reputation for yelling and getting mad when things go wrong. I have worked for those Chefs and, to be honest, I see where I have grown. Now I am not condoning yelling is an appropriate way to communicate, however, I personally think because of my thick skin and ability to shift perspectives, it has given me an eye for detail, quality and overall better kitchen habits. My biggest lessons during my 8 years of working professionally include:
-ALWAYS write a prep list and plan ahead!
-Listen to your chef at all times
-Always hold your standards – never settle for less!
-Clean as you go/never have a messy station
There have been moments where I have worked 14-hour days and my energy is running low, but there is still an hour’s worth of work to be done. At those tough moments, it is important to remind yourself to push through and never let the quality of your work suffer. A chef of mine once said, “Do it nice or do it twice!” That stuck with me for a long time and I will never forget it. Thankfully, I love what I do, so as challenging and exhausting as some days can be, I am forever grateful that my career is my passion.
J’s Cravings – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
J’s Cravings is a culinary company focusing on custom cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. Founded in November 2018, J’s Cravings began making one-of-a=kind cakes decorated using buttercream, fondant, and chocolate. Over time, we started integrating cupcakes, cookies, lemon bars, and other custom treats! We even cater the occasional charcuterie board or buffet experience.
J’s Cravings prides itself on not only creating the traditional birthday cake with sprinkles but encourages our customers to think outside the box and get creative! As a company, we want to grow and try new things. So, the funkier the design, the more opportunities we have to perfect our craft! J’s Cravings is a company that uses fresh ingredients, bakes everything to order and delivers it to your door personally, any time of day you need it! It is important to us a company to treat each customer as a priority and cater to their needs. We understand celebrations are some of the most personal memories people share, so to have a J’s Cravings creation be a part of that moment is something we cherish deeply. Our attention to detail, customizations available (from the style of cake board to the size of sprinkles) everything at J’s Cravings is unique and personalized to the client. We NEVER SAY NO to a creative idea!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career? Wow, so many moments in my career I have had a smile so big it reached cheek to cheek. Two moments that stand out are quite different, but special for similar reason. First was when I was picked as an alternate in the Valrhona C3 Competition and flew out to New York to attend. The second moment was when I had the opportunity to have a booth at a grammar school Winter Bazaar Holiday Festival.
While working at Four Seasons Westlake Village, my Chef Patrick Fahy encouraged me to compete in a competition. I have always had a dream of doing it and it seems like the stars aligned at the time for me to apply for the Valrhona C3 Competition in 2017. I spent about 2 months perfecting what to this day is my favorite plated dessert and bonbon. My concept was “from flower to cocoa bean.” It taught me a lot about R&D, patience and my own creativity. I was guided by a knowledgeable chef that encouraged me to think outside of the box. Ending my experience, I had a feature in the competition magazine and tickets to the event that entire weekend in New York City. The experience was a moment of growth and networking for me, all from the creativity I was able to express through food.
My second experience is when I had a holiday booth at a school fair. J’s Cravings was able to represent itself for the first time in public. Showcasing cupcakes, homemade marshmallow snowmen, holiday pastry with homemade hot cocoa, and a “Decorate Your Own Gingerbread Man” station for the kids. It was a learning experience in many ways! I learned how I could organize better for future events. I learned to get creative with my desserts, and most important, HAVE FUN while working! (The kids decorating gingerbread men truly helped keep my spirit full and laughing! They have such great imaginations!)
As an overall theme, my proudest moments have been when I am able to learn something, feel creatively fulfilled and I have fun while doing it!
- 8 Inch Buttercream Cake – Starting at $75
- Dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies – $35
- Dozen Cookies & Cream Cupcakes – $45
- Custom 8 Inch Fondant Cake – Starting at $100
- Six Lemon Bars – $30
- Website: JsCravings.com
- Phone: 714-292-5030
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @Js_Cravings
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jscravingsLA
- Twitter: @JsCravings
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/js-cravings-los-angeles
All Images Created By Jordan, Chef & Owner of J’s Cravings