Jonathan worked in a series of sales and marketing jobs until he was 25 years old. But it was his reputation as the guy who cooked for all his friends, and a fluke, that changed everything.
A friend who worked for a fashion photographer told him the caterer quit for an upcoming Vogue model shoot, could he jump in and do it? Without thinking twice, Jonathan showed up and prepared, on set, an entire menu from scratch, serving dishes that made him happy and they loved it. After four months doing it as a side hustle, Jonathan turned to catering as a full-time job.
In 1993, he bought a chef coat and dove into catering TV commercials, fashion shoots and music videos. Soon after that, his catering company was working on feature films and TV shows like "The Americans" and "White Collar" right up through 2016.
When the pandemic broke, in keeping with his "just do it" credo, he co-created Queens Together, a restaurant association raising money to fund restaurants providing local food relief, support them with resources, and help them improve their businesses.
ENAMEL METAL CUP
It's 2007 and my wife becomes pregnant and so we're expecting a baby in summer of 2008. My wife says to me in the October/November of 2007: "I'm going to give you a present. You can take a month and go anywhere in the world and go do your chef thing. Go!"
In 2005, for our honeymoon, we drove through Italy. So she knew where I was going.
I contacted this woman Judy Wits [Francini], who's an American chef living in Florence: "I'm coming! I need your help! Hook me up! I wanna cook! I wanna live! I wanna go!"
So she sets me up in an apartment by the duomo in Florence. She sets me up at Trattoria Mario, a very well-known family-centric lunch spot behind the central market.
FOR ME, THE THINGS THAT INSPIRE MY COOKING ARE MEMORIES.
Every day, I am at the restaurant in the morning, watching them cook, and writing down all the recipes. The son's translating. I know all the vendors at the central market and the surrounding area from the chef.
We would eat a light lunch before they opened and then I would go -- go do shopping, and in terrible English/Italian, gather my ingredients and wine for dinner, and spend my afternoons being a tourist. I would cook my dinners every night.
In setting up my apartment, I went to one of the little grandma hardware/kitchen supply stores. There's a million of these cups hanging on those hooks next to the strainers and mocha espresso makers.
I got the cup and it cost me nothing and I never gave it a second thought. Super cheap. It's like enamel tin. It's never going to break. It's got your measurement markings in millimeters for your measurements, which I never use.
It sits with my coffee cup. I don't use it every day, but it's a memory. It's like one of my most cherished memories. It was probably a dollar-seventy-five cup.
SHOT AT SOCRATES SCULPTURE PARK, ASTORIA