2015 Boston Rising Star Restaurateur Jason Bond of Bondir Cambridge and Bondir Concord

2015 Boston Rising Star Restaurateur Jason Bond of Bondir Cambridge and Bondir Concord
March 2015

Growing up in a family of ranchers in Wyoming and Kansas, with a forest ranger grandfather, Jason Bond developed a deep relationship with nature. Trading time between two sets of grandparents, one in a town of 2,000 and the other in a town of just 50, Bond also studied classical music, playing stand-up bass and trombone. And while he was engulfed in the Wyoming wilderness, he learned the rhythms of seasonality.

Cuisine surpassed music in Bond’s passions, and he moved eastward in 1995 to pursue it as a career. After studying charcuterie in Paris, Bond returned to the United States, working at No. 9 Park in Boston and the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia (where, before shifts, he would pick watercress and other herbs in the restaurant’s garden). After five years as chef of Boston’s Beacon Hill Bistro, Bond opened Bondir, a small, farmhouse-style restaurant, in 2010.

Not only is Bondir a place where Bond can showcase his philosophy of quality and lineage of product—a “root-cellar” style of cooking—it’s the home base for a network of responsible, local food purveyors (including fishermen who text Bond each morning with their fresh catch). As innovative as he is rooted, Bond has worked with Harvard University to develop recipes for their Science and Cooking class. Nominated for a James Beard Foundation “Best Chef, Northeast,” Bond has plans to add a CSA with produce sourced from the group’s Bondir Gardens in the coming year, in addition to having opened his second restaurant, Bondir Concord in 2013.

Interview with Boston Rising Star Restaurateur Jason Bond of Bondir

Mary Choi: How did you first get into the industry?
Jason Bond:
I first started cooking in college just to pay the rent. I was a musician and had no other real skills. Then I really got into it and just decided to go for it when I graduated.

MC: Who has been your most influential mentor throughout your career?
When I first moved out east from Wyoming, I wanted to work for George [Germon] and Johanne [Killeen] at Al Forno. They always stressed that we should find the best way to prepare an ingredient. If there’s a better way to do it, then why aren’t we doing it?

MC: How did Bondir come about?
After college I was pretty focused and made a life decision to open a restaurant. Everywhere I worked, I focused on building-up specific skills to achieve my goal. It took a few years, trying at different times, with financial difficulties, and other obstacles. As for Bondir in particular, I was just kind of lucky. I was on the way to a bar and there was a “for rent” sign on a space in the neighborhood with a fireplace and a little room and I thought, “why not?” It was a small enough space for me to build it up myself. It was a messy process.

MC: Tell me about your philosophy as a boss and business owner.
I base my philosophy on my past work experiences under other people. I had these employers in Cambridge at Formaggio Kitchen, named Valerie and Ihsan Gurdal, and that’s where I learned how to treat people. I mean, they introduced me to their regular customers on my very first day. They took employees on trips out to eat, to try different things. One time, I said, “I can’t believe you bring in pâté when you can make it here.” So then Ihsan said, “You do it,” and he pushed me. I learned a lot about managing people from him and saw the kind of commitment it takes to follow through on something, especially when they were opening another location. They were really generous.

MC: What advice do you have for the next generation of restaurateurs?
Believe in what you do. Stick to your beliefs and believe in yourself, even when it’s hard to.

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