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Air Force Veteran brings ZEST to Conneaut Lake

Jason Puryear is an Air Force Veteran and Certified Executive Chef--but those titles don’t capture the man.

Hailing from Southern California, Jason completed Search and Rescue missions with aviation units during the Gulf War during his six years in uniform. He’s traded camos for chef whites after a move to his wife Julie McClymond’s hometown in northwestern PA, where he owns and operates ZEST Kitchen and Pantry in Conneaut Lake, PA.

Puryear’s military family traveled often, nurturing a diverse palate in the future chef, whose Cuban heritage also influenced him. Studies at Le Cordon Bleu in Arizona provided the tools to meld these influences into a concept of cuisine. Subsequently, Jason took a position as Executive Chef and Regional Executive Traveling Chef for the Holiday Retirement Group, which has facilities throughout the U.S. 20 years in the restaurant industry provided the opportunity to hone skills in business, partnerships, and concept design.

Jason’s wife Julie McClymonds is the proprietor of The Green Shoppe in Meadville, which features Eco-friendly products for home, lifestyle and business.

When travel and time away from his wife and three kids became too arduous, Jason conceived and launched ZEST to provide creative private catering and farm-to-table events and takeout meals. In partnership with the Historic Market House and 13 farmers in the Meadsville area, Chef Puryear combines his passion for creating healthy, satisfying meals with artistic flair while highlighting locally-grown meats and produce.

Chef Jason creates meals with whatever is freshest; he co-hosts cooking demonstrations with local farmers who share stories of what they raise--then everyone is invited to head over to the Market, where take-home meals are sold.

Chef Puryear is a charismatic and natural teacher, and stands ready to share with his fellow Veterans what he’s learned about the food business, how to develop CSAs, and tips for building beneficial partnerships. Find him at on social at or at the Historic Market House at 910 Market Street, Meadville, PA 16335.

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