Before this interview, I had met Jared Porter once or twice in passing, and obviously, I don't really know him even now. But five minutes into our conversation at The Parlor, I'm struck by his intelligence, straightforwardness, and positive energy. Sounds like a cliché, I know, but you seldom meet people in this world who conduct their lives by the "this little light of mine" principle, and it seems Porter does. Not in some sugary Kumbaya way but rather a good-natured acceptance of the world as it is and a desire to leave his mark on it, maybe even have a little fun in the process. Sure, he's got fire in the belly, but it emanates from a spark that resides more deeply within.
"I don't have that cooking-by-Mom's-side story" he tells me when I ask him how he got into the business, adding that he hated high school and enrolled in the EVIT program his junior and senior years. Soon after, he earned a C-CAP scholarship, winning a full ride to culinary school at the Art Institute of Phoenix, where an instructor helped him land a part-time job at Vincent on Camelback. He stayed there for two years before moving to Michael's at the Citadel, where he worked with Doug Robson, Jay Bogsinke, Patrick Fegan, Matt Carter, and Tammie Coe.
Coe left to "do her thing" (and work with La Grande Orange) and Robson followed her shortly thereafter. Porter, who was 19 and a line cook at the time, was gunning for the sous chef position at Michael's, but DeMaria said he was too young (and rightly so, Porter admits now), so Porter joined his friends at LGO, being one of only three cooks in the kitchen at the time. "I liked being there," he says. "I was at work all the time."