West Chester chef nominated for this week’s ‘Savor Cincinnati’ after adjusting to pandemic

Chef Michelle Brown of Jag’s Steak & Seafood in West Chester Twp. performs a cooking demonstration in August 2015 at the Western & Southern Open in Mason. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

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Chef Michelle Brown of Jag’s Steak & Seafood in West Chester Twp. performs a cooking demonstration in August 2015 at the Western & Southern Open in Mason. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

When Cincinnati Magazine sent out word to local foodies to nominate eight chefs to cook at the fourth annual “Savor Cincinnati,” an upscale, multi-evening fine dining event, one of the chefs chosen was Michelle Brown, Chef Proprietor of West Chester Twp.’s Jags Steak & Seafood.

Paired with Nick Roudebush of the Golden Lamb, she will prepare a five-course meal (plus appetizers) on Savor Cincinnati’s kickoff night, April 27.

“I was flattered,” Brown said. “My husband operates the Golden Lamb. I’ve worked in their kitchen, and Nick has worked in ours. Balanced flavors are important to both of us.”

Brown, a Westwood native who now lives in Liberty Twp., said she has always had a passion for food, but her decision to embark on a career as a chef depended on a chance occurrence.

“In high school, I cooked a lot for parties; I was always bringing food,” she said. “But I never knew where it came from. There was no Food Network back then. Then in college where I was studying to be a math teacher, I got a job at the Bankers Club, parking cars. Then I walked into the kitchen, saw the white uniforms and chef hats, and it was like an epiphany.”

Executive Chef John York took her under his wing, and he remains her mentor to this day.

“My parents thought I was nuts leaving the parking job that paid $14/hour plus tips for minimum wage,” she said. “I started as a dishwasher.”

Brown worked at Bankers all through college, then moved to San Francisco. Feeling homesick after five years there, she contacted York and got a job as Executive Chef at the Beckett Ridge Country Club. It was there that she was scouted by Jags.

“I’d actually turned the Jags job down, initially,” she said. “Beckett Ridge was going through a rough patch. Then they said the club was being offered up for sale, but it would take years. They ended up selling within a month.”

After accepting the Jags job, Brown traveled across the U.S., visiting steakhouses and meat-cutting facilities.

“It was research,” she said. “We wanted to see what others were doing and then see what we wanted to do. A lot of places back then were doing a la carte. We wanted to do custom sides as a finished product.”

Since buying Jags in 2015, Brown said she still cooks most nights at the restaurant. With her husband also being a chef, there are a lot of steak, ribs, and pork chops on their dinner table at home. She said her palate has evolved over the years.

“When I was young, (my tastes) were pretty basic,” she said. “At the time, I thought it was amazing. I work with a lot of creative chefs, and we have the freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want. We all like food, a little too much.”

Savor Cincinnati will run for four night, each night with a different course and chef pairing. Your ticket will include admission, cocktails, food, wine pairings, and a one-year subscription to Cincinnati Magazine. Ticket sales close three days before each evening.

The Brown/Roudebush menu will be as follows:

Appetizer: Fried Deviled Egg over Avocado Puree with Pickled Fresno Pepper

First Course: Roasted Candy Stripe Beets Salad with Caramelized Goat Cheese and Brown Butter Almonds

Second Course: Foie Gras Torchon with Huckleberry Jam, Pickled Black Radish and Sea Salt Cracker

Third Course: Spring English Pea and Asparagus Soup with Farm Butter Poached Lobster and Local Honey Mascarpone

Fourth Course: Certified Angus Beef Wellington over Braised Short Ribs with Sauteed Fresh Morels, Charred Ramps, Celery Root-Horseradish Puree & Hollandaise

Finale: Citrus Panna Cotta with Myer Lemon, Blueberry Compote and Nut Crumble


How to Go:

Where: Pinecroft Mansion at Crosley Estate, 2366 Kipling Ave., Cincinnati

When: April 27-30, 6-9 p.m.

Cost: $125 per person

More Info: www.cincinnatimagazine.com/savor

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