August 26, 2016

A fan of complex e-juice blends, award-winning Chef Jason Stevens of Cloudride Vapor is constantly creating new and adventurous flavour mixes.

Find out more about his background and process in this new series of articles about vape juice brewers from around the world – What’s Brewing?

Even as a child, award-winning Chef Jason Stevens enjoyed cooking and experimenting with flavours. Now a professional chef, he’s recently begun using his skill with flavours to create e-liquid blends.

Jason’s the mastermind behind the e-juice flavours at Cloudride Vapor, which currently boasts two distinct collections — the C9 Collection and the Classic Collection.

Jason, who won the James Beard Award in 2011 for his work as Executive Chef of Watts Tea Shop in Milwaukee, says that besides the food creation process, he also loves “the reactions that you get when other people are enjoying something you created”.

“I guess you can say I started my career when I was a young child and I had to cook for my little sister when I had to babysit her,” he says.

Soon after high school, Jason landed his first executive chef position. “I have never looked back!” he says.

However, he admits that his work as a chef means that his days can “get pretty insane”.

“I have had days that last 72 hours, non-stop, without taking a break or sleeping.  No joke!  It’s a pretty intense career and you definitely have to love it! 

“It’s also a very rewarding career though and I have been fortunate to work with various celebrities and actors, so there really is never a dull moment and I have been fortunate enough to do a lot of amazing things,” he says.

He says that having worked in the restaurant business for over 20 years, it’s “almost a given” that those involved in that line of work would be a cigarette smoker.

“It is as much the addiction of cigarettes, as it is the social ritual of smoking,” he says. 

“You go through a service and get your adrenaline pumping and it’s pure insanity for hours and the minute that it’s over, you and your coworkers pop outside for that first cigarette that seems to complement the rush of adrenaline and the aftermath of it all.”

He’d quit smoking for two years, cold turkey, and while he did try cigalikes whenever he was tempted to buy a pack of cigarettes, they weren’t effective in satisfying his cravings.

And then, in an almost serendipitous way, he discovered and fell in love with vaping.

A serendipitous turn of events

“I discovered the vape world for the first time at my friend’s wedding. We had all flown out of state to attend his wedding and one of his groomsmen had a tank and mod with him. 

“Seeing that I had ever only known the cigalikes and the dinky amount of (nasty) vapour they produce, I was impressed with the size of the vapour clouds he was exhaling, or chucking as the kids are calling it,” Jason recalls.

“I was also intrigued by the look of the whole thing, being able to see the liquid, the shape of the tank, the drip-tip and the whole nine… it just screamed the future for me. 

“Well unfortunately for him and fortunately for me, he had left his set-up in the hotel room in a frantic rush to the airport and I ended up picking it up for him. I was going to try to get it to him but he told me to either keep it or get rid of it because he had another set-up at home. 

“So my curiosity got the better of me and I tried it and immediately loved it! 

“I never expected it to taste as good as it did and I found myself hitting that thing all day long! I was hooked. It wasn’t about the nicotine for me but the flavour and the whole process of vaping.”

Soon after that though, Jason realised that he knew nothing about vaping, or even what juice he was vaping.

“I had no idea that this thing used coils, I had no idea where to buy these coils and worst of all, I had no idea what juice was in it when I had run out! 

“I think I drove around for a week, hitting up every vape shop in a 50 mile radius trying to find this awesome flavour I had been vaping, to no avail,” he says.

A life-changing discovery

And then, an employee told Jason that he made his own juice.

“Once I heard I could actually make my own juice, I had a “lab” set up in my room with over 1000 different flavours from multiple flavour companies.”

Of course, he took to it quickly. Jason began posting his recipes online and helping people who were starting out with DIY flavours. He even began reviewing and testing flavours for some e-liquid companies.

Jason says that the main “advantage” he has as a chef is that his experience makes it “pretty simple” to “grab a flavour and then quickly write up a dozen recipes with flavours that pair with it”.

“Pretty much the same way as I would do with a menu item in a restaurant,” he adds.

He also has a heightened sense of smell.

“I can smell someone eating a strawberry, 10 cars in front of me on the interstate!” he jokes.

He says that another advantage he has is his catalog of knowledge.

“The average Joe may not know what a Cherimoya fruit is, what Saffron smells like or what a true Guanabana tastes like, but the fact that I have these things at my disposal on a regular basis, gives me the knowledge to know better,” he says.

He uses this specialised knowledge to create some “off the wall type juices”.

“I typically stray far away from the norm and I will come up with some recipes using things like Saffron, Yam, Taro, Violet, Lavender, Cactus, Cucumber, Oak, Rhubarb, Rose and Red Bean, to name a few,” he says.

“I also like to blend with a lot of flavours and I can never seem to just keep it simple,” he quips. 

“On average, my mixes tend to have 8-12 different flavours, with one of my favourites having 18 flavours.”

In spite of his vast knowledge, Jason doesn’t just go by the book. He still loves to experiment.

Constant experimentation

“I decided one day to see how many different cream type flavours I could get in a juice without going over 20% flavouring and I ended up with a little gem that I find myself falling back on all the time.”

Those who are looking to find a variety of e-juices at different budget levels will certainly find a host of choices on Cloudride, all of which are made with the highest quality, true flavours from the best and most reputable suppliers.

Although there are currently 18 flavours available for purchase, Jason is constantly sitting down to test new mixes.  

When asked what his favourite flavours are, he says, “I can’t really say I have a favourite juice because I am constantly trying new things and I am always coming up with something I love.

“I just find that when I sit down to do a mixing session, I walk away with 80 new mixes to try and I rarely have the time or tank space to go back to an old recipe.”

However, he does admit that he is “a sucker for dragonfruit mixes”, as well as anything that’s complex.

“I find that when you find that perfect balance between high amounts of different flavours, it morphs into its own unique flavour that is unidentifiable to the norm. This is what I set out to find,” he says.

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