Marc Jacksina always loved cooking, but it wasn’t until he was in college studying to be a philosophy professor that his life changed. He was working three part time jobs, only one of which was as a cook. “One day,” Jacksina explains, “after a class exhaustingly spent debating ‘truth’, I went into my restaurant job, and a customer sent back a steak I had over cooked and joked ‘at least THEY knew it was a steak.’ So I went to speak to my academic advisor and mentor to explain that I was leaving the program to pursue cooking. The only explanation I could give him was ‘good steak, bad steak. At least you can’t tell me it’s NOT a steak.’”
Coming from a family where everyone cooked very well, Jacksina spent a lot of his childhood “attached at the hip” with his grandmother and great grandmother, plus his uncle who was an actual chef. “My great grandmother,” he says, “did a lot of preserving, curing, and using every part of whatever she had. She taught me that it was as much about respect of the ingredient as it was about thrift.”
Not having attended culinary school, but Culinary Bootcamp, Jacksina started working in kitchens when he was young. “I consider myself a journeyman chef. I was lucky to have some natural talent and worked for chefs who not only taught me, but allowed me, to learn and explore on my own,” he explains. The early places Jacksina worked were very French and very old school; therefore, “irrespective of the style of food” he’s “cooking, it’s filtered through basic French culinary tenets.”
Originally from New York, Jacksina moved to Charlotte and lives here with his wife Lauren and two sons, Lucas and Ian. He was a chef and half owner of LULU. After that, he went to “AB’s on Montford and opened Halcyon with the ladies from Something Classic Catering” but never left his “roots of neighborhood Trattorias’ to idyllic New England style five star inns.” Jacksina is a “storyteller” who likes his “food to have a narrative.” “I hopefully make a visceral connection with the person who is eating it that invokes a memory. For me,” he continues, “eating is about communion; cooking is about communication.”
Being a part of Nan and Byron’s is a new and exhilarating experience. “I really love what the guys at Map Management have done for the dining scene in Charlotte with 5Church,” says Jacksina, “And, besides being friends with Chef Jamie Lynch I really respect what he and Chef Kyle Rhodes have done together in the kitchen. The different skill set needed for the challenges of doing a concept like Nan and Byron’s coupled with joining a progressive and talent loaded team was too intriguing to pass up. It was, as they say, a no-brainer.”
Loving all things “ugly,” Jacksina loves to cook with the unglamorous stuff like beets, brussel sprouts, turnips, radishes, cabbage, kale, lamb hearts, and pig heads. The latter of which he calls the so-called “throw away parts”. He admits to having a salt fetish and a pantry full of different types of vinegars, along with white soy sauce and sriracha, a hot chili sauce (sometimes spelled sriraja). Jacksina also has a “passion for using locally sourced ingredients and supporting small, excellent farmers.”
When you come to Nan and Byron’s, not only will you experience an amazing interior/patio but also the largest craft cocktail list Jacksina admits to ever having seen, which includes a selection of local and regional beers and spirits. You will find foods everybody loves to eat, cooked as if you were fine dining. “It won’t be about some esoteric ingredient; it will be about food that you could cook at home but with Chef Lynch and me cooking it for you,” says Jacksina. “One of the hamburgers on the menu,” he continues, “took three days to get up to our standards of technique, execution, and flavor.”
“If I wasn’t working here,” says Jacksina, Nan and Byron’s “would be the place I’d be hanging out at, having something to eat, and trying to decide which craft cocktail to try…actually, I should reword that to say, WHEN I’m not working, this will be the place I’ll be hanging out at.” For further information on Nan and Byron’s, email Alejandro@5Church.com or “like” them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NanAndByrons.