#TPBTH Meet: Jeffrey Stoneberger
Name, craft/industry/blog/passion, most popular handle/website:
Jeffrey Stoneberger, chef/owner, 2 Nixons
Twitter/Instagram: @eatmecookme and @2Nixons
How did you get started?
How I got started in the kitchen and cooking was I decided to quit everything that was making me unhappy at 24 years old. I sold my house, I broke up with my fiance, and I moved to the beach. I got a job as a restaurant manager. One day the kitchen was short a line cook, and I immediately volunteered because that’s just who I am. There was something terrifying about it, and I loved it. I wasn’t a natural at all. It was so forced, and I was awful at first, but I loved that. I loved that I was horrible at something. The challenge of it was such an incredible part of the draw. Then I got really good really fast because I put so much into it. I devoted everything to cooking. I had already given up everything, so I had nothing to lose. I had money from my last career, and I used it as the nest egg for my new one.
What or who influenced you the most as you were developing your craft?
Josh Skenes has had the most impact on who I am as a cook. He has this innate sense of telling when product is perfect and how to cook things that will maximize just how perfect something is capable of being.
Sean Brock also played a huge part in the foundation of who I am. Sean took a chance on me even when I made a shit ton of mistakes. He once told me, “My job is to make you better. If you fail–I fail.”
Why do you love your job?
I love my job because everyday I get to make people genuinely happy. During the stress of a day, most people feel massive amounts of disappointment; we get to change that for people. Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of ramen!
What inspires you?
The inspiration for me all started from two things. One, I grew up on the water in a very coastal area that formed the basis of everything I would want to eat. And what I serve at 2 Nixons is exactly what I want to eat. The other influence is fire. I think things cooked with fire taste better, deeper, and more like themselves than cooking with gas. The seasoning on the grates of a grill is like the seasoning of a cast-iron pan. You can truly taste how that’s been used for cooking over and over again.
5 words that describe who you are:
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I always read books as a kid and still do!
I’m doing it. When we actually get a space for 2 Nixons, I will literally have accomplished my dreams.
3 things you aspire to be or do:
I aspire to be the kind of father my kids brag about!
I aspire to influence and have a super positive impact on my community (farms, ethos, business culture, etc.).
I really want to renovate a beach cottage.
(Fill in the blank) I appreciate __________ in my life, because__________.
I appreciate my children in my life because they have turned me into the man I always wanted to be.
What was one of the hardest lessons or toughest obstacles you had to overcome?
The hardest obstacle I have overcome is having a spouse who had a substance abuse problem and having to raise children completely on my own.
Advice for someone who is looking to begin a new hobby/job/life pursuit:
Find something you can really fall in love with and fail at it over and over again–and learn how to fail better.
Something your followers would be surprised to learn about you:
I only started cooking at 25. Also, I have a majorly guilty obsession with all the Bravo “Housewives” shows.
Blue crabs covered in Old Bay
Coco Rico. It’s a Puerto Rican soda. Adult beverage: Hendricks + ginger
“Working Man,” Rush
“We know what we are, but not what we may be,” Shakespeare