Life and Religion
|Dilworth Tasting Room chef packs a fistful of skills and recipes|
|Jonathan Shuler's passions: Boxing and cuisine|
|Published Friday, June 14, 2019 5:20 pm|
|PHOTO | HERBERT L. WHITE|
|Jonathan Shuler is executive chef at Dilworth Tasting Room.|
Jonathan Shuler packs a punch.
Dilworth Tasting Room’s recently appointed executive chef knows his way around the kitchen as well as a boxing ring. He is the 2019 champion for the North Carolina Golden Gloves 152-pound division, as well as the Azalea Festival in Wilmington.
“This past winter, I competed in the 2019 Charlotte Golden Gloves and won,” Shuler said. “From there, we went on to do a couple other competitions, national tournament in Wilmington—the Azalea Festival. I won that. It was a two-day tournament, and I came out on top. It’s been helping me stay balanced.”
Shuler’s approach in the ring translates to the way he works with food.
“Boxing has taught me to be disciplined—stay the course,” Shuler said. “Besides that, I like the challenge. It is a huge mental challenge. The biggest challenge is within myself, and of course, I want to be the better man in the ring.”
Shuler, previously of Rocksalt, has been in the Charlotte area two years. He initially applied for the position of sous chef at Dilworth Tasting Room. His audition required creating a hot and a cold dish for owner Jaffer Kovic and his wife Zoe, with 30 minutes to accomplish both tasks.
“Kind of like quick-fire kitchen to see how to see how he does,” Jaffer Kovic said. “[He] completely blew us away. It was simple, easy, rustic, but packed with so much flavor and so much thoughtfulness that I said, ‘wow.’”
Shuler joined Dilworth Tasting Room immediately as executive chef.
“When he came on board, there was transition with the other chef who we had on the team,” Kovic said. “He broke ground immediately, made not major changes, but kind of small changes to tweak the menu. As we were developing and growing over the past couple of months, we started making bigger changes, not to shock the regular guests or the staff, but to slowly transition into menu items that one make sense, meet cost, and taste really amazing. I think Jonathan has done that so far.”
Shuler, a graduate of Apex High School studied culinary arts and chef training at The Chefs Academy.
“Growing up for me, cooking has always what brought the family together,” Shuler said. “Any time my grandmother or my mother cooked, it was a big deal. It was normal for us, but it was a big deal to everybody else. That feeling kind of stuck with me. I started working in the industry. When I connected those dots—that I enjoy cooking and that feeling—I just strive to recreate that for our guests.”
What does that mean for Dilworth Tasting Room?
“The best food in Charlotte,” according to Shuler. “We’re putting everything into this. We want to create an experience for the people who eat here. That true tapas style of dining is an experience. We’ve embodied that, and we’re the place for it.”
Said Kovic: “Having one person who can lead by example just brings more success to everybody on the team.”
Location: 300 E. Tremont Ave.
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