Justin Fox Burks
At the corner of Broad Avenue and North Merlot Street sits Bounty on Broad, a restaurant that is helping to bring new life to an area rich in midtown history. Popular with Memphis magazine readers, who named Bounty 2015’s “Best New Restaurant,” the place is packed most every night. Much of the credit for Bounty’s success rests with chef/owner Jackson Kramer, who took time to sit down with us and talk about cooking, restaurants, and the trout tattoo on his left arm.
Memphis: Is there a specific philosophy you use in the kitchen?
Jackson Kramer: My personal philosophy on food is use real fresh food. I want to use as many local products as possible. I don’t like to use any of what we like to call commodities, or big farm meats. A lot of my background comes from the chefs I’ve worked for. I was out in Portland, Oregon, and Ashwood, North Carolina, using local farm goods. Memphis didn’t really have any restaurants doing that until recently.
What are the main differences between working under a chef to now being the executive chef?
I think it’s learning. Times are changing when it comes to how young cooks look at chefs, or how they look at the progression to move through in this business. It’s slow going because you have to absorb the information. Instead, they want to go straight to the grill because it pays more than, let’s say, salad. But they are both equally important. People want their steak and their salad to taste good. I might even say salad and desert are more important because it’s the first and last thing that someone eats. Learning the appreciation of the food is important.
Do you have any advice for a young chef?
A steady progression is required. You can’t jump right in and do too much. Also understand that you have to struggle for a little bit. Work hard and get to a [good] place. A lot of time you need to have a break. Someone leaves and then you move up. Also, try to work hard every day.
Are there any cultures that influence your food?
I guess my food is truly American. I want the food to speak for itself. I don’t try to go in one direction as far as influences. I’ve always liked the ingredients in Latin food and then a little bit of Asian.
Do you have a favorite item on the menu at Bounty?
It is probably the trout. I love trout. I love to fish for trout. I fly-fish every chance I get.
What is in your fridge right now?
Besides beer? Food-wise, there’s a lot of yogurts and juices. A lot of drinks. I eat at work at
least once a day. I went to the store and spent something like $200, but it was gone in a day. We try to eat vegetarian, but I did cook some chicken at home that night.
So you do cook at home?
If I have all day and nothing to do, I’ll go to the grocery store and buy things. I work 10-plus hours a day so we like to go out to some restaurants at night. My wife [Carrie Kramer] is the general manager, so we are here a lot.
You’re hungry after a hard day’s work. What are you going to eat?
Nachos. Definitely a beer and nachos. Sometimes I eat them at Bounty. We were making breakfast nachos for a time. Even at home, they are so simple, and even better when you use good ingredients.
2519 Broad Ave. (901-410-8131)