Meet the Adobo Ho, Chef Jade Gaje
By Karena Apollonya Ebora Higgins
Jade Gaje was the catering queen for one of LA’s most popular downtown eateries, but in 2010, she decided to break out on her own. We got a chance to spill the tea with THE JADE CHEF about many things, including the crazy massage moment that changed everything, her love of the .99 Cent Store and why she calls herself, The Adobo Ho.
Name: Jade Gaje
Position: Caterer and Craft Services to the Film Industry
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Born: Harlem, New York
Current City: Los Angeles
How’d you get into cooking, professional cooking? I was a massage therapist for 15 years. I massaged EVERYBODY in the music industry. My best client had to be Chaka Khan. I did massage for many years, but after my traumatic experience with a client, this mofo locked me in a room and chased me around, I decided it was time to go in a different direction. I got a job as a bookkeeper/ office manager for a restaurant. I ended up helping with events, etc. Some of the time the chef wouldn’t show up, so I’d jump in and make food, but I’ve always helped out when it came to food. When I was younger, I’d help my mom and sister in the kitchen.
What’s your favorite thing about cooking? I guess it’s the creativity and control. I like the control of cooking. You can make anything your way out of everything. The real interest happened in college. There’s only so much ramen you can eat. When you’re on a tight budget, you have to be really resourceful in order to have a good decent meal. Back in the day, me and my best friend would go to The .99 Cent Store and spend maybe $10.00 and have a major gourmet meal. We’d be so proud and so happy. We’d be like “YES!”. We’d have a nice 4-course dinner on a budget. Bread pudding was usually the dessert.
What’s your favorite thing to cook? I love home cooking. I’d have to say Adobo. I’m known as the “Adobo Ho” because I’ll turn anything out into adobo. Give me some sort of protein and I WILL turn it into some form of Adobo. It’s ALWAYS Adobo and of course you HAVE to have rice, HAVE TO HAVE IT WITH RICE!
What’s your favorite Filipino Food to Eat? My favorite Filipino food is adobo, but with short ribs, over forbidden sticky rice and my mom’s vegetable lumpia (spring rolls) and her ginataang bilo bilo (rice flour balls, tapioca and fruit stewed in coconut milk) for dessert.
Do you cook Filipino food professionally? Yes, on set, that’s actually the number one favorite day of the crew. I always cook adobo, a chicken adobo and vegetarian adobo with tofu and mushrooms. I’ll cook bistek, tapa or pork tocino and or pork longanisa, sweet and spicy, for breakfast. I’ve had celebrities ask me about my recipes. They love it that much.
What do you think about the Filipino food now? I know that my generation is trying to bring a better reputation to Filipino food. It’s slow, but it’s coming. Filipino food is to be sought out. I think we’re being represented well by the new pioneers. There are people that are doing it differently, more positively, but the atmosphere of Filipino restaurants needs to change. I think it’s closed off. Visually, it’s not always welcoming, which makes me sad because there are so many foodies. People are so open now to experiencing different food. Filipino food is just as tasty and beautiful as Thai or Vietnamese.As for me, what I can do is represent how I feel about Filipino food, especially when dealing with “other” cultures. To this day, many people think “Adobo” is the Mexican Adobo. They have no idea that another kind exists with a completely different flavor profile, but when I introduce it to them, they ALWAYS love it. Then, I feel like I did my job as a chef and Filipina.
- Soy Sauce
- Sweet Chili
- Fish Sauce
Favorite Beer: Hefeweizen