Q&A: Chef Augusto Jalon
Even with two stellar restaurants in the area, he continues to study his craft.
by Brian Freedman

At a time when most top chefs are media personalities as much as they are cooks, Chef Augusto Jalon is unique: He has quietly managed to carve out for himself a niche in the suburbs’ culinary life through old-fashioned talent, hard work and creativity.

His first restaurant, Augusto’s, remains one of the top dining destinations in Bucks County. His second, Tavolo in Huntington Valley, is a bit of a departure from Augusto’s, but Jalon’s respect for ingredients and his ability to bring out clear, distinct flavors on the plate are clearly present at both restaurants.

I recently had the chance to speak with him about his current projects, his respect for remaining a student and his food in general.

Brian Freedman: Can you tell me about the difference between Augusto’s and Tavolo?

Jalon: Augusto’s is a restaurant that’s eclectic. It has a little bit of everything: A little French, a little Mediterranean, even a little Latino cuisine.

Whereas Tavolo is Italian. But it’s not Italian in the sense of a chicken parm – veal parm type of thing; it’s an Italian restaurant that we wanted to do as if we were aspiring chefs in Italy—what type of restaurant would we open?

We’ll have some dishes that are Sicilian, and we’ll have some dishes that are Northern Italian.

I did a little stint at [Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin’s acclaimed restaurant] Osteria. You take what you learn, and you put your own little input in it, and you come out with a menu. And we have a little bit of everything.

BF: I want to follow up on that, because I know that you’ve learned from Georges Perrier and the team at Le Bec-Fin in the past, and now you say you’ve done the same thing with Vetri and Benjamin. It seems like you haven’t stopped being the quintessential student.

Jalon: I never will, I never will. You know, you have to keep the passion. [Note: Once Tavolo is up and running to his specs, Jalon hopes to do a similar stint at Bibou, the highly regarded French restaurant in South Philadelphia that was opened a bit more than a year ago by Pierre and Charlotte Calmels, and who Jalon knows from his Le Bec-Fin days.]

BF: With all of these experiences at some of the top restaurants around the region, and with two very distinct restaurants of your own, what is it that unites your food, that characterizes it?

Jalon: One of the things I learned from Le Bec was respect for the food more than anything. The thing that unites our food is the integrity of the way we cook it, the ingredients— and we try to use the best—and the consistency.