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Jason Heald: Kitchen Camaraderie

The Rococo chef’s savory polenta recipe



 



Jason Heald grew up on a skateboard, and while listening – unsurprisingly – to punk music, he practiced graffiti art, and dreamed of being the next Charles Bukowski or Hunter S. Thompson.
 

“I was a poet, writer and rapper,” Heald says. “I wanted to make a mark on the world.”

He had a son when he was very young, so he decided to parlay his experience in kitchens into a full-time gig. Working in the industry was a good way to make money to pay for his new responsibilities, but he also was learning to love the “poetry” of a back-of-house team.

“I started working in kitchens when I was about 15,” he remembers. “I loved the camaraderie and the feeling of being part of a family. It made me want to be a chef.”

Heald, who is now executive chef at Rococo on Penn, grew up in the Mid-Del area of Oklahoma City, where he learned to cook from his paternal grandmother.

“She was the original farm-to-table chef in my life,” he says. “We ate a lot of Southern staples: fried chicken, collards, ham hock and beans, tomatoes and macaroni – that sort of thing. I always looked forward to Sunday dinner; it was usually brisket, baked beans and rotating sides. My grandmother was definitely my hero growing up, and she always made real fried pies for me when I cooked with her. But I started working in kitchens because I wanted a car.”

He applied to Garfield’s in Crossroads Mall and worked as a host, dishwasher and busboy to pay for his wheels – but he never stopped working in kitchens, and except for time spent in Phoenix and Colorado, most of his culinary training has been in OKC restaurants.

“I love to cook, and I especially love cooking for my friends and family,” Heald says. “I’ve cooked enough different styles that I can pretty much make them whatever they want at this point.”

Rococo owner Bruce Rinehart has turned Heald loose in the kitchen, and given the diversity of Rococo’s menu, he’s an excellent choice. Heald also has been able to indulge his creative side with features that aren’t on the regular menu. For someone whose formal training was always in kitchens, it makes sense that he would continue to develop his skills there. Working for what he wants has always been his model.

For his recipe, Heald chose creamy herb and goat cheese polenta. “It’s very warm and comforting on cold winter nights,” he says. “It’s also really easy to prepare.”

 


 

► How It's Done

4 cups chicken stock
1 cup polenta or coarse corn meal
8 oz goat cheese
2 sprigs thyme, chopped fine
4 sage leaves, chopped fine

Bring chicken stock to a boil.

Slowly stir in corn meal.

Lower heat and continue stirring for 7-10 minutes until smooth.

Remove from heat.

Fold in goat cheese and chopped herbs.

Top with melted or browned butter.

Serve with braised meats or ratatouille, or enjoy it by itself.

 

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Calendar

June 2019

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Cost: Free

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Telephone: 405.815.9995
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Cost: $6 adults

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Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
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Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

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Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
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Cost: $4 - $6

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Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
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Cost: Free

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Telephone: 405.574.1374
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Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

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Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
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Cost: $15

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
Chickasha, OK  73018
View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
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The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nesbitt Gallery will feature painter William Stoehr’s powerful portraits in “Victims, Witnesses, and Survivors.” The gallery...

Cost: Free

Where:
USAO Nesbitt Gallery
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View map »


Sponsor: Nesbitt Gallery
Telephone: 405.574.1374
Contact Name: Layne Thrift
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris Wheel, and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma...

Cost: Adults $20; Seniors and Children $15

Where:
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701 S. Lincoln Blvd
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Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

Show More...
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A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Featuring more than 70 works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
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View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

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Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District & Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris Wheel, and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma...

Cost: Adults $20; Seniors and Children $15

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
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Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

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