Chef Jared Van Camp of Old Town Social - Biography
Illinois native and 2011 Rising Star Concept Chef Chef Jared Van Camp started off in the culinary industry as a baker in 1997. After graduating in 2000 from Johnson & Wales University with an AAS in Culinary Arts and receiving cum laude honors, Van Camp went on to work with a number of esteemed chefs, among them Donald Barickman of Magnolia’s in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Paul Kahan of Blackbird and Rick Tramonto of Tru in Chicago. He also staged at wd~50 and Craft in New York City and Charlie Trotter’s, Everest, and Trio in Chicago. His interests also include painting and sculpting, which he found time to study at the University of Illinois.
This love of art translates into Van Camp’s eye for detail and presentation. At his two restaurants, Old Town Social in Chicago and Quality Social in San Diego, everything on the menu is made by hand on the premises. Van Camp describes the menus at these restaurants as “local, savory and delectable bar food … offered at a price that is easy on the pocketbook.”
Only local pigs make the cut for Van Camp’s acclaimed in-house charcuterie program, and Van Camp says he is so “fervent about [his] work and [his] love for pork” that he bears the mark of this love on his left forearm: a tattoo of an English butcher’s diagram of a pig. His goal is to produce “food that is handmade and good, unpretentious, blue collar in spirit, seasonal, and uses the freshest of high quality ingredients.”
In 2009, following the opening of the Social concept in Chicago and San Diego, Time Out Chicago named him one of The 10 Most Important Chefs Right Now. He’s since received a number of accolades, including Best Charcuterie in 2010 from San Diego Magazine and Chicago Magazine; Favorite Chef of the Year from 2010 in San Diego 944 Magazine; and 2010’s Best New Chef in Chicago from Time Out Chicago Eat Out Reader’s Choice Awards. He also was a 2010 delegate to the Slow Food Terra Madre Conference in Turin, Italy.
He maintains a close relationship with local farmers, serving the farmers meals and creating dinners for guests at Kinnikinnick Farms, a 40-acre certified organic market-garden located in Northern Illinois near the Wisconsin border.