Louisville Magazine

MAR 2012

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

Issue link: https://loumag.epubxp.com/i/56636

Contents of this Issue


Page 52 of 116

pays attention to you." Ron shares a funny memory and still has the old answering-machine cassette as proof. Not realizing he was being recorded, Lewellyn once convinced a girl that his family had a horse in their base- ment. "He was going on and on," Ron says, "and she believed him." Early on, Lewellyn loved swimming and German, becoming fluent by fifth grade in a Cincinnati Public Schools foreign-language program. "Jayson has a gift in memory recall," Ron says. "Te subject matter is compartmentalized, and he can draw from it." He and his wife wanted their youngest to pursue something in the medical field. Pat says her son worked at Hardee's as a teenager, and both parents began to see his love of restaurants when he was a waiter at Texas Roadhouse. His parents de- scribe him as a self-taught chef, though his mother says he briefly attended culinary school in the States. At Vietnam Kitchen, here's how Lewellyn tells it: By 14 he was doing grunt work in Cincinnati butcher shops, learning how to break down an animal. "Tat's where it all started," he says. After his 1994 high school graduation, Lewellyn left for the air force. ("Once you know one foreign language you can pick up another easily," he says. "It was so easy, especially in the military, to pick up Farsi.") Ac- cording to the federal government's National Personnel Records Center, Lewellyn served in the U.S. Air Force from March 9, 1995, to Dec. 6, 1996. "Te part of the air force he was in, we don't talk about," his mother says. "He went where they told him to go, and we'll leave it at that." In France during his last year of enlistment, he says, he "pulled diplo- matic security duty" and was in charge of two recluses, one of whom was a chess-playing member of Mensa. "I had time to kill, so I decided to go to culinary school," he says, adding that École Ritz Escoffier, at the Ritz Paris, was the first to get back to him and that he "finished up the culinary program there." He learned, he says, about craftsmanship and basic knife skills, how to identify vegetables and fruit and which flavors accentuate each other. "You know, I don't tell people I went to culinary school and have a culinary-arts degree. No, I went to cooking school," he says. During a deposition after Social filed for bankruptcy, an attorney asks Lewellyn about being a first-time business owner and the highest level of education he has completed. Under oath, Lewellyn says some college, some culinary school and some post-secondary training. "Completed, it's kind on an interesting question for me, but — I guess, from what you're stating to me, would be high school," he says. For this story, Laure Fran- ces, the director of École Ritz Escoffier, replies to an email: "I am sorry to inform you that we didn't find the name of this person in our computer." Lewellyn says he dined with families in the French countryside, went "on holiday" to Marrakech in Morocco, where he "learned to eat" at the bazaar food counters. Lewellyn says his roommate in France landed a po- sition in a Tokyo restaurant that focused on French cuisine and also au- thentic Japanese preparation. "I planned to visit for two weeks and stayed for 13 months," he says, working in the kitchen with his friend. At a place next door, apprentices learned to make rice for years before they could even roll sushi. "Te experience of sitting behind a sushi bar and a gentle- man — 60, 70 — preparing fish for you? It is a religious experience," Lewellyn says. Eventually, he returned to Cincinnati ("My mom said, 'You're coming home or I'm coming to get you'"), where he worked in restaurants while, he says, earning an economics degree from the University of Cincinnati. "I'm a mathematician," he says. Greg Hand, UC's public relations associ- ate vice president, says the registrar has no record of a Ronald or Jayson Lewellyn going back to 1985. At one point, Lewellyn says, he "picked up" a line-cook job working for JAYSON LEWELLYN [50] LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.12 chef Jean-Robert de Cavel at Cincinnati's legendary Maisonette, which was one of America's highest-rated restaurants before it closed. "Jean-Rob- ert and I, we've kept our relationship very private," Lewellyn says. "I've been very big about not using his name because that's a hell of a feather in my cap." De Cavel knows Lewellyn, says he's a "really creative" chef and that the two once worked together in Cincinnati during an event with farmers. He did visit 732 Social. "He said he worked at the Maisonette?" de Cavel says. "If he did, I just don't remember. I feel bad if he did and I'm forgetting. I should probably talk to him." Sean Kagy doesn't recall being in the Maisonette kitchen with Lewellyn either, but admits that was a long time ago. When Kagy was the Cincinnatian Hotel's executive

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Louisville Magazine - MAR 2012