Having a successful caterer as a mother was certainly a boon to Jason Scholz's budding culinary career. Working by her side, early on he mastered the fundamentals of stellar food service: efficient use of time, sharp organizational skills and a firm commitment to using quality ingredients.
Armed with a solid aesthetic and expert kitchen skills, he set off on a career path that landed him his dream job when he and his wife, Julia, established Stella’s Southern Bistro in Simpsonville and Stella’s Southern Brasserie in Greenville.
Scholz was aiming for a relaxed and welcoming vibe when he envisioned Stella's. And it all pivots on the sourcing of local ingredients and fresh seafood from the coastal areas of the Carolinas.
"Farm-to-table seems to be the hot thing, but I've always taken that approach," Scholz said. "We're in the South. I've cooked in Charleston and Louisville, Kentucky, so I try to work those elements into the restaurant."
Scholz began fine-tuning his kitchen skills by working in restaurants in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Eventually, Charleston beckoned and he found himself at Slightly North of Broad working for the legendary Chef Frank Lee.
After proving himself to be a talented sous chef, he was appointed in 1999 as executive chef of the former Greenville location of High Cotton. He was recognized by several national publications, such as The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Food Network, The Washington Post and Southern Living, during his tenure there.
After many successful years, he and his wife, Julia, who has a background in restaurant management, decided the time was right to open their own restaurant. Stella's Southern Bistro was born in 2008, with its elegant sister restaurant, Stella's Southern Brasserie, opening in 2017.
In 2020, Chef Anthony Gray joined the partnership, and the trio's collective vision continues to win accolades from appreciative Upstate diners. As for Scholz, he is pleased with the results of his years of culinary schooling and hands-on training.
“I just tried to work at the best restaurant in whatever city I was in until I got my own shot,” he said.