In the Palm of Your Hand: Meet Jonathan Zell, Sou Chef

Jon joined the staff of Beck’s Cajun Cafe, 30th Street Station, as the Sou Chef in October of 2018. Born and raised in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, Jon calls Philly home, “I left and went to college in Vermont and came back, I left and went to work at a restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine and came back, It’s home; I always return,”
he said.

Friends and family have always been central to Jon’s life. While growing up, Wednesday Spaghetti Night was a family tradition — the whole family came to dinner. And, it was during this time that his Grandfather taught him how to make homemade meatballs. “The meatball should be the size of the palm of your hand,” his grandfather said. “Grandpa, your hand is bigger than mine, the meatballs will not be the same size,” he responded. “The palm of your hand,” his Grandfather said.

Now a professional cook, who trained at Philadelphia Culinary Arts Institute, the family leaves the holiday cooking to him. When asked if his mother was okay with him taking over the kitchen for family events, he nodded, smiled and said, “Yes, she got used to it. She was never a really big cook, she did other things.”

“My Mom was a surfer, she is from Hawaii, ” he said. “One of my first memories is sitting under this exotic, ornamental tree, that my sister had climbed, and I was watching my Mom hang ten on the waves of Waikiki,” he shared with a smile. He has not returned for many years and although Hawaii will always be a desirable place to go, other adventures beckon him. “Europe is on the agenda and of course, New Orleans. I love cajun food. I have to go.” he said. When asked what his favorite Beck’s food is he responded unequivocally, “Gumbo.”

Welcome Jon!

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