Rising Star Chef Jason Alley of Comfort - Biography
Chef Jason Alley grew up in Pulaski, Virginia, where agriculture was the mainstay of the local economy. At the age of four he industriously started cooking and never really stopped, helping out his busy family by whipping up Southern comfort food. His first professional food job was at St. Louis-based fast food chain Hardee’s. It was an ill-fated meeting, so Alley resolved to go to college, but he soon realized that he was not well-suited to the world of academia and left college. He worked at a Quaker-owned orchard near Harrisonburg, Virginia.
But fate intervened when a group of friends washing dishes at Harrisonburg Country Club encouraged him to join them. Soon he started prepping food and watching the chefs cook, and it wasn’t long before he had worked his way up to lead cook. He left shortly after for Champaign, Illinois and while his now-wife studied at the University of Illinois, he took a sous chef position at a bar and grill and was quickly promoted to executive chef.
The couple moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked at 1848 House, Blue Ridge Grill, and ENO. But his native state beckoned and Alley returned, this time to Richmond, for a position at the Europa Café and Tapas Bar, where he met his soon-to-be restaurant partner Chris Chandler. Alley and Chandler opened Comfort in 2002. Alley’s menu sings with a passion for the kind of Southern comfort-food classics you could picture on checkered picnic blankets in some idyllic painting. Alley is currently busy planning his second restaurant—and when he’s not cooking, playing in his Spanglish Ramones cover band, Los Ramones.