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Jason Eastep

Jason Eastep

Executive Chef of Business Car Operations
BNSF Railway Co.

Jason Eastep’s culinary career is rolling along, literally. As executive chef of business car operations for BNSF Railway Co., he coordinates the planning, preparation and serving of meals for high-profile clients as they ride the rails of BNSF’s fleet of 30 private business cars. Jason and his staff — four chefs and a team of up to 20 at peak-load times — make sure that the corporate executives entertaining clients in the railroad’s business cars have a dining experience that’s suited to the finest restaurants in the country. That may mean days on end of developing menus for, preparing and serving three meals a day, plus drinks and hors d’oeuvres — all while traveling at high speed across the country.

A passionate self-taught cook who worked in restaurants while still in high school, Jason began taking courses at El Centro’s Food and Hospitality Institute on the recommendation of friends. He says the training he received at El Centro was the foundation of his career.

“What I love about my work is the creativity; every day is a new day. The most important thing I learned in my culinary training? Never burn your bridges in this industry — Beth Sonnier taught me that. Chances are, one day you’ll have to work with someone you might have had a difficult relationship with — but you don’t want to have already burned that bridge. It’s true that there are sometimes a lot of egos to work around in a kitchen, but it’s a big industry with a very small world within it.

“I would absolutely recommend El Centro’s Food and Hospitality Institute to students wanting a broad culinary foundation. My training there gave me a realistic idea of the basics I needed to take my career further. They taught all the things that are essential to this industry, from basic food preparation to sauce preparation to garde-manger (for the uninitiated, preparation of cold food such as salads and garnishes). El Centro is a great stepping stone and building block for a culinary career.

“The best part about my experience at El Centro was that there weren’t too many people in each class,” says Jason. “The instructors really took the time to teach us one-on-one. When you’re spending all of your time outside of work with a group of people, it also becomes your second family. The faculty and staff at El Centro are really just unbelievable. I’d particularly like to thank Beth Sonnier for helping me understand the flow between the front and back of the house and Chris LaLonde for his great inspiration as a chef.

Jason Eastep attended El Centro College’s Food and Hospitality Institute from 2000 to 2003, earning three certificates: Basic Culinary Art, Food and Hospitality Management, and Food and Hospitality Service. He was hired as an executive sous-chef at Jango’s in Arlington while still taking classes at El Centro. He has served as executive chef of business car operations for BNSF Railway Co. since 2006.