Growing up in Jamaica, Chef Ravon Boreland always got a job from his grandmother in the family kitchen. Whether it was cleaning fish or peeling potatoes, he says, “In Jamaica, you have to do everything yourself!” With a garden out back, as well as chickens and goats, Chef Ravon’s family was very self-sufficient when it came to cooking. He recalls that he often woke up early to catch red snapper and parrotfish for dinner. The fish were prepared many ways, and one of his favorites was a pan-fried version topped with homemade pickled relish full of Scotch bonnet peppers, red bell peppers, carrots, Spanish onions, and scallions.
As much as he enjoyed cooking with his grandmother while growing up, Chef Ravon says he didn’t think of cooking as a career path until he came to Boston. After a few other jobs, he walked into a restaurant and was hired as a prep cook. That didn’t last long. Within a couple of days, he’d emerged as the one prep cook who would quickly finish his work and join the rest of the cooks upstairs. He quickly moved up to line cook.
After a while, Chef Ravon moved on to Ashmont Grill in Boston. There, he greatly expanded his experience as a lead line cook. He absorbed everything he could from that experience, and says it made “made me the chef I am now.” One of his favorite meals on the menu was a coffee-rubbed hanger steak with ancho butter, sautéed Swiss chard, and cumin-rubbed sweet potatoes.
Chef Ravon has since taken his culinary skills to Dave’s Fresh Pasta, a Somerville-based pasta shop that offers unique groceries, artisanal cheeses, and hosts wine tastings and cooking classes. The store offers creative and seasonal sandwiches and raviolis, including Chef Ravon’s lamb wraps and Panini, made with herb-roasted leg of lamb. He also has introduced some new ravioli fillings, including roasted root vegetable, made with parsnips, celery root, carrots, potatoes, and goat cheese.
With a busy schedule and three daughters at home, why work with Kids Cooking Green? Chef Ravon remembers his childhood and how he learned to cook from scratch with local ingredients. It’s important, he says, that kids learn that they too can “make a meal and know what they’re putting into it.”