Jasper White was born in New Jersey in 1954 where he spent much of his childhood on a farm near the Jersey Shore. He credits his love of good food to his Italian grandmother. Jasper began his cooking career in 1973, and after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he spent several years working and traveling around the United States. Before settling in Boston, Jasper worked in New York, Florida, California, Washington state and Montana. In 1979, he met aspiring chef Lydia Shire, and together they presided over some of Boston's venerable hotel kitchens including The Copley Plaza, The Parker House and The Bostonian Hotel. These three hotels were the core of a Renaissance in the Boston restaurant scene at that time, but it was at the Bostonian Hotel in 1982 that Jasper and Lydia together introduced Boston to contemporary American cooking. Jasper's extensive research into the historical and cultural aspects of New England foodways, as well as his more than 30 years of cooking experience, have made him a trusted authority on New England foods, especially seafood.
In 1983 Jasper and his wife, Nancy, a graphic artist, opened Jasper's Restaurant on Boston's historic waterfront. Both Chef and restaurant received numerous awards and were featured extensively in national and local media. In opening his own restaurant, Jasper led a whole new generation of innovative Boston chef/proprietors many of whom have gained national prominence. After 12 years of being Boston's premier restaurant destination, however, Jasper faced the prospect of operating a fine dining restaurant in the midst of Boston's decade-long "Big Dig", so he boldly chose to close his restaurant in 1995, and he took time to write two cookbooks, Lobster At Home (Scribner 1998) and Fifty Chowders (Scribner 2000). His first book, Jasper White's Cooking From New England, had been published in 1989. All three books are still in print and selling well. In 2007 Jasper released his latest book, The Summer Shack Cookbook - The Complete Guide to Shore Food.
In May 2000, Jasper White surprised people who thought he was inextricably linked to fine dining when he opened Jasper White's Summer Shack, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Where Jasper's Restaurant had been quietly elegant and formal, Summer Shack is a loud, energetic clam shack that seats more than 300 people, in five separate seating areas. Lobster tanks and steam kettles are the focal point in a central big, open space. Lobsters, clams, oysters and many other varieties of seafood dominate a New England menu that features everything from corn dogs and fried clams to traditional favorites like cod cakes and baked beans. While the ambiance has changed, the quality has not. Jasper's mission is to demonstrate that fine food doesn't have to be "haute" or elegant.
Summer Shack has become a Mecca for seafood lovers. The success of the Cambridge restaurant has spawned two more Summer Shacks at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut and Boston's Back Bay. Jasper's winning business recipe has been to introduce high-quality, authentic New England seafood into casual restaurants in high-traffic retail locations. From its inception, the Summer Shacks have received enthusiastic reviews from local and national press, including the 2001 James Beard Award Nomination for Best New Restaurant.
- Jasper White's Cooking From New England, Harper Collins, 1989 (now published by Biscuit Books).
- 1989 IACP (Seagram's) Cookbook Award - American Regional - 2nd place
- Lobster At Home, Scribner, 1998
- 1999 IACP Julia Child Cookbook Awards - Finalist
- 1999 "Food & Wine" Best of the Best Award - Most Delectable Savory Recipe
- Fifty Chowders, Scribner, 20002000 "Food & Wine" Best of the Best Award - One of the Best Cookbooks of 2000
- 2001 IACP Cookbook Award - Finalist - The American Category
- The Summer Shack Cookbook, W.W. Norton, 2007