The Summer Shack located at the entrance of Legacy Place in Dedham, and is the third location for Chef Jasper White.
White is a world renowned Chef who has been featured on television cooking shows and is an author of four cookbooks, many of which have won awards. A highlight in 1994 was when White was nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant in the Country. Only five restaurants are nominated and although White didn't win, he was honored to be nominated. Another award that White is proud of is the James Beard Award for Jasper's Restaurant in 1990. This award was significant since it represented a culmination of 20 years of fine dining.
Patch sat down with White to discuss his restaurants, books and awards for his New England style seafood.
Patch: When did you start cooking and realize that you wanted to be a Chef?
White: I credit my love of food to my Italian grandmother. My interest in cooking began in 1972. I graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute in 1976.
Patch: Have you always worked in the Boston area?
White: Before settling in Boston I worked in New York, Florida, Washington, California, Montana and Rhode Island. It was at the Biltmore Hotel in Rhode Island that I met aspiring Chef Lydia Shire in 1979. Together we presided over some of Boston's venerable hotel kitchen's including The Copley Plaza, The Parker House and The Bostonian Hotel.
Patch: When do you think you made a mark as a Chef in Boston?
White: It was in 1982 when Shire and I introduced Boston to contemporary American cooking. I had done extensive research into the historical and cultural aspects of New England food ways. I believe that my forty years of cooking experience has made me a trusted authority on New England foods, especially seafood.
Patch: When did you open your own restaurant?
White: I opened in 1983, Jasper's Restaurant, on Boston's historic waterfront. We received numerous awards and were featured extensively in national and local media. We were open for twelve years and were a premier Boston restaurant destination. Then came the decade long "Big Dig" so I decided to close in 1995.
Patch: What did you do during the years that you no longer had a restaurant?
White: I decided to write 2 more cook books. Lobster at Home in 1998 and Fifty Chowders in 2000. My first book which I wrote in 1989, Jasper White's Cooking from New England is still in print along with the others. My latest book is the Summer Shack Cookbook - The Complete Guide to Shore Food.
My three children were very young and in taking time off from owning a restaurant, I was able to spend more time with them. Summer Shack was born when my children and I would go out to eat and I would have to compromise. I knew then that I wanted a restaurant that was kid friendly but had wonderful ingredients.
Our restaurants are ingredient driven.
Patch: When did the first Summer Shack open?
White: In 2000 I open the first Summer Shack where my Jasper's Restaurant was originally located. Jasper's was fine dining and a quiet atmosphere. The Summer Shack is a loud energetic clam shack that seats more than 300 people in five separate dining areas. Lobster tanks and steam kettles are the focal point. Seafood dominates the New England menu that features everything from corn dogs, fried clams, baked beans and cod cakes, a traditional favorite.
Patch: How many Summer Shack locations are there in the Boston area?
White: There is our Back Bay location and our Dedham location at Legacy Place. We also have a third Summer Shack at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
Patch: Can you tell us about your community involvement?
White: My staff and I try to stay involved in the community. In Dedham we donate to programs such as the Dedham Community House, Home to Little Wanderers, The Boston Home, Dedham Local Fire Fighters and we also participate in The Taste of Dedham.
I also believe that a restaurant provides to serve the community. People come to a restaurant and get engaged, business happens or families who don't necessarily get along all come together for a nice dinner.
In addition to his restaurants, White is also a partner in Georges Bank, LLC, a wholesale seafood company in South Boston that specializes in supplying the freshest, sustainable "boat to table" fish and shellfish available.
For more information: (781) 407-9955