Chef Pease on Working His Way From Boarding School Breakfast to Formal Cuisine

At age 15, Christopher Pease discovered his passion for food in the unlikely location of a boarding school kitchen. In the midst of a trying moment in his adolescents, he was both far from home and finally home. From that point on, his life’s passion has been all consuming.

Working his way through various restaurants and finally settling into a degree program to better his culinary skills, Chef Christopher boasts nearly 20 years of experience and the title of Sous Chef at Echo Bistro and Wine Bar yet humbly struggles to call himself, “chef.”

In preparation of his upcoming cooking class at Chef Supplies by KaTom, we took a few minutes to talk to Christopher about his experiences as a chef and share a bit of advice for those considering the business.

Describe your personal style in the kitchen.
I’m not really into the new. I enjoy the old world, rustic style. Food should be about comfort and really giving people exactly what they want. Even if I have a menu prepared and a customer requests something else, I’ll do everything possible to prepare that dish.

Talk me through the moment you knew food was your passion.
There are actually two. When I was 15 and living in a boarding school for troubled kids I began working in the kitchen and it finally gave me a place and purpose. The other was during a wine pairing. In that meal, I realized that food could go far beyond simple nourishment.

What has been your greatest challenge so far?
When it come to the restaurant business just about anyone can get in. Working with a mixed group of personalities can be difficult. Sometimes you don’t have time to be sweet and people take that personally. Waiting it out for the good ones to last takes time. At Echo, we are at a great point where the whole staff really works well together. It just takes time.

Chef in echo bistro and wine bar dining room Do you have a most valuable lesson so far?
Working under Chef Seth Simmerman and his wife Lisa, I have learned so much. Chef is my mentor and the closest thing I have had to a traditional apprentice system. From the technical skills to understanding costing and truly running a restaurant, every lesson has been valuable. The most important lesson so far has been in my failures. If you aren’t willing to fail, this isn’t the place for you.

Looking toward the future, do you have a plan?
I plan to open my own place some day but plan to continue developing my classical skills in the meantime. Right now I’d really like to further explore traditional Spanish food and wine and try a few family style meals. Big platters of food encourage communication.

What made you choose Thai food for your cooking class at Chef Supplies by KaTom?
My Aunt is an antique importer, which allowed for me to spend a few summers in Thailand. While there, I fell in love with the people and food. It actually reminds me a lot of the pride people take in the classic French food tradition. It’s this combination of beautiful people expressing their tradition through food. It makes for an incredible experience.

Chef Supplies by KaTom Cooking Classes

Chef Christopher Pease will join us at Chef Supplies by KaTom on November 3rd at 6:00 pm for a Thai inspired cooking class. His menu will include Sautéed Thai Shrimp Pasta, Thai Beef Nicoise Salad with Ginger Lime Dressing, and Thai Mango Rum Flambé with Coconut Sticky Rice.

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.