As an Air Force spouse who’s frequently on the move, chef Johnny Scott says he knows the recipe for creating bonds in each new community he encounters.
“All you have to do is just put food on the table and then good people will meet you at the table,” he said. “That’s true. You make connections.”
Scott’s connection with food is rooted in South Carolina, where he made some of his fondest memories while cooking with his mom during the Christmas season.
“That was my first inspiration toward cooking — during the holidays,” he said. “It kept me closer to her.”
Scott recalls taking part in the annual tradition of preparing his mom’s chicken and Savannah Red Rice as well as “amazing turkey and ham.”
“A lot of things I didn’t really pick up because I was just a little kid kind of playing around,” he said. “But she always made sure I knew a little bit about what she was doing. So that led me to, you know, always trying to cook for friends in the neighborhood and basically using up all of mom’s groceries.”
Despite forming a culinary foundation at home, Scott insists that he never had a vision of becoming a professional chef during childhood, but after “coasting and not really having a focus,” he found a job in a kitchen and eventually earned a degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of Savannah. Life took an amazing turn, he says, and at the same time he met his wife, who was in the military.
“I had to move a lot with my wife to different duty stations, so I began doing odd jobs,” he said. Those side hustles turned to cooking once again when he took on his first catering client — a fellow military spouse whose husband was deployed.
“She wanted meals prepared for her daughter so she wouldn’t have to come home and cook at night,” Scott said.
Just as Scott started to consider catering as a full-blown career, his wife got orders to Germany. Instead of packing up his knives, he decided that the food business would travel.
“I said, ‘Let’s go on an adventure,’ because with my profession, you can cook anywhere.”
Eventually, Scott formed The Mission Kitchen, a full-service catering and professional chef business. Beyond that, he also taught a regular healthy cooking class sponsored by the Robert Irvine Foundation at the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir that brought service members and their families together to cook a hands-on meal.
Scott currently calls Texas home, where he is still instructing — this time as head of a COVID-inspired homeschool cooking class for his four children and their friends and neighbors.
The seed to share food knowledge was planted by his mother and grandmother, he says.
To continue spreading the culinary love, Scott plans on securing a commercial cooking space and is working on a cookbook on healthy ways to prepare meals, to be released in early spring.
The chef says he continues to be grateful for cooking, which has always put him on the right path.
“Honestly, it has created a whole lot of opportunities,” he said. “And even with all the moves and all the inconvenience. There’s always opportunity, especially around food.”
For more on Mission Kitchen: www.themissionkitchen.com.
Fresh Basil Bruschetta
We asked chef Johnny Scott to provide a recipe for a simple, healthy holiday appetizer to be prepared together as a family.
1 baguette or good quality rustic bread, sliced on the bias to 1/2-inch thick
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
grated parmesan cheese or balsamic vinegar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay bread on a baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil.
2. Place in oven for about 10 minutes or until edges are brown.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, remaining oil, basil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. When bread is toasted, lightly rub the top with garlic. Spoon tomato-basil mix over warm bread and serve.
Optional: Sprinkle parmesan or drizzle balsamic vinegar for an enhanced flavor.Read comments