Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jason Brazzel is “Foodie of the Fort” for July.
Brazeel, administrative chief at the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment on Fort Leonard Wood, is a husband, dad, adventurous eater and a self-proclaimed foodie. His wife, Armina, nominated him for the honor.
“His career in the Marine Corps provided us various places to eat and (opportunities to) learn to cook different cuisines,” Armina Brazzel said. In Germany, Jason, got restaurant experience and started an area restaurant and caters events, Armina said. She said Jason will retire in August and work at making his catering and cooking dreams even more of a reality.
Here is Jason’s interview:
Q. Tell me about your family.
A. I have a beautiful family with four lovely ladies, three of which are my daughters. They have traveled the globe with me and helped me become the man that I am today. And inspired me to create new flavors with old southern traditions.
Q. Do you consider yourself a foodie?
A. Of course, I consider myself a foodie. I have been cooking since I was about 12 years old for my younger brother. I will try anything once and twice if I like it. I remember having a taste for the interesting and different cuisines of the world. It started when I first went overseas in Japan. Eating sushi, sashimi, yakisoba in Okinawa, the pad Thai from the streets of Thailand, and Peking duck in the China town district of Amsterdam, was just so amazing to me. Then eating at a true barbie on the beach in Australia. Then I was stationed in Germany and that was it.
The moment I tried jager schnitzel, gelato and doner kebabs had me hooked on international cuisine.
Q. What inspired you to become a foodie?
A. I started to watch my mother and great grandmother in the kitchen. I learn so much from the both of them about putting love into what you do and love what you eat. I learned the epitome of soul and comfort food from them. They cooked with patience and never rushed the process. Taking your time to enjoy the taste and sitting back to enjoy the moment. I wanted to honor both by cooking meals that they enjoyed and loved to make for others. I started catering in 2013 and have been going strong ever since. It is my dream to open a restaurant and catering is the path to doing that. Catering is an art and I can draw whatever my customers can imagine.
Q. What are your favorite things to prepare?
A. I love to smoke meats (barbecue). My favorites are spare ribs and pork steaks. I was born into barbecue, being from Memphis and all. It is a way of life there. Anyone can grill, but it takes a special kind of person to barbecue. The old low-and-slow method over hardwood and charcoal is the only way to go.
There is more flavor and the best feeling of achievement is when you are maintaining temperature, getting the right amount of smoke and preparing a spice blend that doesn’t over power but balances the flavors. This is the feeling of hard work paying off and it is a plus that it tastes good.
Q. Do people call on you to cook for parties and special events? Why do you think that is so?
A. Yes, I have catered retirements, office parties, church functions and neighborhood block parties. I recently have cooked for a few Marine retirement parties and a change of command. Many people are amazed at the taste of the food and the overall presentation at their event. I ensure that they can enjoy the company of their guest and colleagues.
Q. What recipe will you share with the Fort Leonard Wood community?
Chicken and Broccoli Pot Pie
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 bag of frozen broccoli florets
3 teaspoons of thyme
1 large can cream of chicken soup
1 cup of water
3 teaspoons of season salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans of Grands crescent rolls
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut chicken breast into small cubes, season with 1 teaspoon of thyme and 1 teaspoon of season salt. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the chicken until done. Pour 1 can cream of chicken soup and 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Add the broccoli and continue to simmer. Season to taste with the remaining thyme, season salt and pepper. Open the 2 cans of crescent rolls and press all edges together until 1 solid sheet is formed. Pour the fill ing into a square baking dish, filling it about an inch from the top. Cover the dish with the crust. Press the edges and cut four small slits into the crust and bake until crust is golden brown. Take out of the oven and serve in bowls.
(Editor’s note: To nominate a Fort Leonard Wood-connected individual for Foodie of the Fort, email your nominee and why you chose them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Foodies of the Fort are announced on the second Thursday of each month.)