Jason Arbusto
 

He didn’t have work papers. He didn’t speak French. So how did Jason Arbusto land a job in France with legendary chef Alain Ducasse mere months after graduating from The Culinary? 

It all started with his CIA externship. Jason was working at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, FL for a French chef who later helped him land a three-month, post-graduation stage at a restaurant in the Basque region of France. After completing his stage and spending a few weeks in Paris, Jason decided to stay—but now he needed a job. “I bought the Michelin Guide and picked the top 10 restaurants in it,” he says. “Then I started knocking on doors. They all said no except Alain Ducasse, which surprised me because that was who I wanted to work for most. Chef Ducasse had just built a cooking school outside Paris, and he gave me a month to work there and prove myself.”

Jason did, and it turned out to be the beginning of an eight-year stay in France. A major turning point was being invited to assist five top chefs in the Alain Ducasse Trilogy, a prestigious annual continuing education event. One of those chefs subsequently invited Jason to work for him at Le Louis XV, a restaurant in Monaco that was ranked second in the world. “I worked my way from the bottom all the way to chef de partie,” he says. “It was everything you imagine a French restaurant to be.” From there, Jason when on to work at Les Ambassadeurs in the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, then for Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, all the while studying French. 

It may seem as though everything fell easily in place for him, but Jason’s quick to set the record straight. “My time in France was very, very tough,” he says. “It took about a year of standing in lines to get my visa and I worked really hard to learn the language. I was short on money, and I sometimes worked for free. I was working day and night for years, but at the same time, I had this rush of energy.”

Eventually Jason was ready to come home, and when he was contacted by the Alain Ducasse Enterprise about a chef de cuisine position at Mix in Las Vegas, NV, it was the perfect opportunity. With more than 200 employees, Mix is a bigger restaurant with more responsibility, and in his position, Jason handles everything from scheduling the chefs to running service to developing menus. He was definitely up to the challenge, as he has been for all those that came before. 

“Whatever you put into something—energy, time, power, resources—you get back out of it,” he says. “That’s what I did at the CIA. I watched almost every videotape in the library, I was group leader, and I participated in just about every activity there was, all while keeping my grades up so I could keep my scholarship. It definitely prepares you well for the future.”

So what’s Jason got in mind for his future? He wants to try his hand at culinary competitions. He’s even thinking about writing a book based on the journal he kept in France—much of it written while standing in the visa line.