Chef Lasse Fredrik Jensen

Chef Lasse Jensen - Image by: Victor Morales

It’s important to look at tradition and culture for inspiration. Chef Lasse Fredrik Jensen , Culinary Instructor , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I guess it goes back to when I was a kid in Denmark and I was cooking with my grandmother. She was the best home cook you can imagine. She would take me to the local farms in the summer to pick up fresh seasonal produce before it became a thing, and the way she told me stories about the food was amazing. I still think about her Danish meatballs, pickled herring and other native Danish dishes. I got the cooking bug from her. I was probably around 10 years old or so.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran’s sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

When I first meet my students, I tell them my culinary story to make them curious about who I am and what I've done in the restaurant industry in Europe and here in the U.S. With more than 25 years of experience in various restaurant kitchens, I feel I am in a great position to guide my students. I always tell the students about the endless opportunities they have in this industry. With hard work you can go anywhere in the world. I've worked in fine dining, large restaurants, small restaurants, catering, in big cities and in small tiny mountain villages. I believe I've seen a lot of what the restaurant industry has to offer and I share that with my students. With my culinary background I have the opportunity to guide my students in the direction of which type of restaurant environment they would like to work in.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

I often use examples of my working experiences in the classroom – I have both good experiences and bad experiences. It’s a way for me to prepare my students for the restaurant industry. My approach to my students is very straight forward, I tell them exactly what they can expect in today's restaurants. I'm still working in the field when I'm not teaching so I'm very much aware of what's happening in the industry and I'm running my classes like a restaurant. I feel students need to know the realities of working in the culinary industry now more than ever. It's not like the cooking shows you see on TV.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Collaboration between programs will always be a win, for all parties involved. It teaches us all a different perspective a different approach and can contribute to something unique and new for all students and for the teachers as well.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

It’s important to look at tradition and culture for inspiration. Go and spend time in the region of the cuisine you're interested in. Learn the techniques and how local chefs are modernizing their own culinary traditions. Keep your head down, ears open, do not lose focus, listen more than you talk and have fun.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

I'm Danish-born chef with roots in both Denmark and Norway. My passion is preparing rustic Nordic dishes made with local seasonal ingredients. I like to work with classic Nordic cooking methods like smoking, pickling, and curing, as well as those from the classic French cuisine. Currently I am the Executive Chef for Bon Appetit Management Company.

Headshot by: Victor Morales, The Art Institute of California-San Diego