Architecture and color as important as taste at BIN112

Jason Clark's presentation of food is a piece of art

Published on Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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Jason Clark is the master of the art and science of food at BIN112.

Jason Clark is the master of the art and science of food at BIN112.



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The BIN Stack demonstrates presentation principles of height and contrast.

Food Photography by Jason Clark

The BIN Stack demonstrates presentation principles of height and contrast.



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Jason's Crab Cake is artfully arranged with asparagus.

Food Photography by Jason Clark

Jason's Crab Cake is artfully arranged with asparagus.



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Candy of the Sea displays sea scallops on a bed of sauteed greens.

Food Photography by Jason Clark

Candy of the Sea displays sea scallops on a bed of sauteed greens.



When a conversation is about the best food in the Upstate, Jason Clark’s name usually comes up early in the discussion. Foodies come to BIN112 and The Strip Club 104, restaurants resulting from the collaboration of Jason and his friend Jeff Dye, from all over. Greer just happens to be lucky enough to be their home.

Jason is famous for not only his delicious food but also for his beautiful presentation and plating design. I wanted to find out how Jason got where he is, what drives him, and see if I could get a few tips for aspiring chefs or hobbyists like myself, so I met with Jason Monday at BIN112.

You immediately know Jason is an artist when you walk into the restaurant. It’s a gorgeous space with warm woods, rich tones, and a modern vibe. Art by local artists is featured on the walls. And the booths are long and comfortable, with colorful toss pillows placed perfectly.

Jason started his journey in the culinary world at age 14, when he became a dishwasher to earn spending money. When the restaurant’s grill cook cut his hand, Jason stepped in to do his work and keep the restaurant running. He did so well, that before long he was doing more cooking than washing dishes. By the time he was 16, he was working alongside chefs more than twice his age, doing what came naturally to him. At that point, he realized he loved creating food and started thinking he’d like to have a career in it.

Things started taking off for him when he began cooking for law firms. “I saw what you could do with food, that people could really appreciate the food and enjoy it,” Jason says.

While working at BMW, he started exploring Greer. “I started doing a lot of research, talking with shop owners. I got interested in the history,” Jason says. He looked at several buildings before he settled on what would be the location of BIN112. The restaurant was originally called 5150, and operated for two years before it became BIN112. Jason created the logo as he was doodling one day, thinking about the idea. Right after he opened BIN112, Jason came up with a steak house idea, which he called The Strip Club 104, and opened it four years later.

Jason works most of his presentation magic at BIN112. He designs menus in his head, coming up with flavors and design all before he actually creates it. This artistic vision is intuitive. “It’s not just about taste, all your senses go with it,” he says.

One of those senses is sight. The food has to be visually appealing to be memorable. “It has to have height and dimension. It has to have color, contrast. Most of all, when you look at the plate, it needs to flow right.”

Jason recommends looking at quality food photos for inspiration and to learn about design. He describes VeganYumYum.com as a good example. He says it’s where he learned how to photograph food (these photos included).

“I’ve had a lot of mentors, worked in a lot of places,” Jason says. “Ed was the first chef I ever worked for. He looked like Grizzly Adams. He’s in Indiana and we still talk. Now he looks like Santa Claus.” He says Adolf Overmeyer gave him his first chances in the European cuisine world. “Without him, I wouldn’t be anyone.” He also names Charles Park of Beaufort Grocery. “He took me in as a sous chef during a difficult time in my life. He was a phenomenal man and he taught me a lot about staging. We follow the exact procedure that Beaufort Grocery does here at BIN112.”

Jason learned the financial side of the restaurant business from Mike Gagan. “I was his sous chef at a law firm. Without him I wouldn’t know how to run a business.”

When asked where he wants to go from here, Jason responds, “Nowhere. This is it, we’re happy. I love what I do, the people that work for me love what they do.”

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