New York City-based TV personality, consultant, and restaurateur Sean John was raised between Jamaica and Europe, and continues to incorporate his worldly perspective into all his endeavors. A seasoned and uniquely talented chef, Sean has hosted and curated menus for some of the biggest names in music, film, fashion, and design including Naomi Campbell, Bono, Arcade Fire, Sean Paul, A$AP Rocky, Oscar Isaac, and Opening Ceremony. In 2008, he launched Spur Tree, a go-to Lower East Side lounge that fused a savory Jamaican menu with a trend-setting ambiance and is reopening soon. “The coolness and consciousness of the culture… that’s what I want to get across to people,” said Sean. Here he talks about the inherent benefits of farm to table produce, experimenting with cannabis recipes, and how he first got involved in the culinary arts.
What’s the first reaction you get when you introduce yourself as Sean John?
Yo, are the dude that makes those clothes?
How do you balance being a TV personality, consultant, and influencer with running a successful culinary brand?
I balance myself by mediating for 20 minutes in the morning to quiet my mind, and I exercise regularly too.
What was the original inspiration behind your popular L.E.S. destination Spur Tree?
The original idea and inspiration behind Spur Tree was to open a cool, hip Jamaican place in Manhattan with great Jamaican food and drinks offered in an incredible atmosphere.
You’ve cooked for celebrities such as Bono, Naomi Campbell, A$AP Rocky and more. What’s one of your more memorable celebrity chef experiences?
A memorable experience was when was I cooking at a party for Bono. Naomi Campbell showed up and Bono was about to introduce me to her. But she said to Bono, “You know Sean John too? He’s a great chef and a super cool guy!” So we got a good laugh out of that.
How and where did you learn to cook?
From my grandmother and also from traveling to different countries. I enjoy experimenting with various foods and recipes as often as I can. And I am an avid collector of cookbooks!
Do you ever experiment with cannabis in some of your recipes?
Yeah, with deserts especially. I did a ganja crème brulée which was a big hit, literally.
What’s one of the signature dishes you’ve created?
An oxtail Sheppard’s pie with truffles. I also make a killer sorrel and beetroot scotch bonnet sauce.
Why do you think the health benefits of locally grown foods are so important?
Locally grown food is potent and healthier because it’s fresh and not treated with preservatives. The nutrients are more alive because the produce hasn’t been traveling for days on a truck and then put in cold storage before being consumed. From farm to table, you can’t beat that for nutritious and flavorful food.
Tell us about your experience with the Puffco Pro 2.
I think the Puffco Pro 2 is very smooth, with a cool design and great functionality. It’s very subtle. I can smoke it everywhere I go.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Fresh caught jerk snapper with pineapple salsa!