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 1972 and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in 1976. Before settling in Boston, Jasper worked in New York, Florida, California, Washington state, Montana and Rhode Island. In 1979, he met aspiring chef Lydia Shire while working at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, RI. Together they presided over some of Boston’s venerable hotel kitchens including The Copley Plaza, The Parker House and The Bostonian Hotel. It was at the Bostonian Hotel in 1982 that Jasper and Lydia introduced Boston to contemporary American cooking. Jasper’s extensive research into the historical and cultural aspects of New England foodways, as well as his 40 years of cooking experience, have made him a trusted authority on New England foods, especially seafood.
In 1983 Jasper’s Restaurant opened 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 three more Summer Shacks at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, Boston’s Back Bay and Dedham, MA. 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. In addition to his restaurants, Jasper is also a partner in Georges Bank, LLC, a wholesale seafood company in South Boston that specializes in supplying the freshest, sustainable, “boat to table” fish and shellfish available.