New York City-based TV personality, consultant, influencer, and restaurateur Sean John was raised between Jamaica and Europe, and continues to incorporate his worldly perspective into all his endeavors. A seasoned and uniquely talented chef, Sean has hosted and curated menus for some of the biggest names in music, film, fashion, and design including Naomi Campbell, Bono, Arcade Fire, Sean Paul, A$AP Rocky, Oscar Isaac, and Opening Ceremony.
In 2008, he launched Spur Tree, a consummate Lower East Side oasis that fuses a top-shelf Jamaican menu with a signature ambiance. Borrowing its namesake from a quaint town in Central Jamaica, Spur Tree is much more than just a sexy Manhattan lounge, it is a destination for seekers of authentic culture, incredible cuisine, and like-minded influencers. “The coolness and consciousness of the culture,” said Sean, “that’s what I want to get across to people.” Here Sean talks about the inherent benefits of farm to table produce, his morning ritual, and how he first got involved in the culinary arts.
What was the original inspiration behind Spur Tree?
The original idea and inspiration behind Spur Tree was to open a cool, hip Jamaican place in Manhattan with great Jamaican food and drinks offered in an incredible atmosphere.
How do you balance being a New York TV personality, consultant, and influencer with running a successful business and restaurant?
I balance myself by mediating for 20 minutes in the morning to quiet my mind, and I exercise regularly too.
You’ve cooked for celebrities such as Bono, Naomi Campbell, A$AP Rocky and more. What’s one of your more memorable celebrity chef experiences?
A memorable experience was when was I cooking at a party for Bono. Naomi Campbell showed up and Bono was about to introduce me to her. But she said to Bono, “You know Sean John too? He’s a great chef and a super cool guy!” So we got a good laugh out of that.
How and where did you learn to cook?
From my grandmother and also from traveling to different countries. I really enjoy experimenting with various foods and recipes as often as I can. And I am an avid collector of cookbooks!
What’s one of the signature dishes you’ve created?
An oxtail Sheppard’s pie with truffles. I also make a killer sorrel and beetroot scotch bonnet sauce.
Why do you think the health benefits of locally grown foods are so potent?
Locally grown food is potent and healthier because it’s fresh and not treated with preservatives. The nutrients are more alive because the produce hasn’t been traveling for days on a truck and then put in cold storage before being consumed. From farm to table, you really can’t beat that for nutritious and flavorful food.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Fresh caught jerk snapper with pineapple salsa!