Chef Jordan Gainer
Sous Chef at Hillbrook Inn & Spa
Chef Jordan has been fine-tuning his skills to bring delectable fare to the Blue Ridge
Chef Jordan Gainer grew up Lorton, VA and learned from an early age the importance of hard work and preparedness. Jordan started working food service at the young age of 14 at a national pizza chain. This environment was fast paced and showed him how important being prepared to feed the masses. In order to turn out 70 pizzas in an hour, you have to have your ingredients ready. Later on, this experience would be the beginning of his understanding of “Mise en place” or everything in place in French. Stratford University is where the aspiring chef would attend university to begin to hone his culinary skills.
Upon graduation, Chef Jordan would go on to work in some very prestigious restaurants. These institutions include the Watergate Hotel and Farrah Olivia (Alexandria). Chef Jordan credits his experience at these two locations for his ability to blend scientific cuisine and techniques with the classical.
Gaining Inspiration from his Grandmother
Jordan credits his culinary inspirations to his Grandmother who was the matriarch of a small Swiss village in West Virginia called Helvetia in Randolph County. His Grandmother owned a restaurant in a town of around 50 people. This village is historically where German and Swiss settlers settled in 1869. Chef credits his culinary aspirations to seeing the Chef at that Restaurant and helping in the kitchen as a reason he would later get into the food service industry. Jordan would also note that his family would frequent a Lebanese Restaurant and was intrigued and inspired seeing the thoughtfulness of the flavors put into the dishes they ate.
Joining the Family at Hillbrook Inn
“I love the atmosphere that you feel at Hillbrook. This is really a family where Chris, Carissa, and Chef Jan want you to feel appreciated and successful in life,” says Chef Jordan. On facing interesting challenges, he notes that working with a small staff while trying to provide Michelin level experiences to guests of the Inn is one that he loves to tackle. “I enjoy the Challenge of blending the Hospitality of the Inn while also providing the culinary expertise to our guests and visitors. Chef appreciates the intimate setting that the small Inn provides. This allows him the opportunity to sit with the guests and talk with them about what they enjoy eating.
Following the Locally Sourced Movement
It’s a much bigger movement now than several years ago and many restaurants are trying to source the best ingredients they can. “It was newer to me at first, but it has blown up since,” he said. “It’s all about appreciating the quality and care and seeing the results of all the farmers hard work. It’s amazing when you receive something as simple as a tomato in the morning and all you have to do is cut it and lightly season it and it’s delicious.” Chef says there’s a symbiotic relationship between the farmer and chef which is so key. You must be able to respect the product from the field to the plate and this gives support to what the farmers are doing what they love while also giving chef the inspiration to create beautiful and delicious dishes.
“It’s all about respecting the product from the field to the plate.”