Jay’s Famous Roast Pork & Beef
Jay’s Famous is located inside the Pen Mart Convenience store at the corner of Routes 118 and 415 in Dallas Township, PA. Everything about Jay’s just feels different than the Made to Order (MTOs) delis embedded in those large chain-style convenience food stores. Those stores serve their clientele well, but Jay’s Famous is looking for those with a sophisticated palette who are always looking for their next culinary adventure.
They serve more than your average style sandwich. Their “Philly-style” sandwiches use hand selected and slow roasted pork, beef and turkey. One of their taglines is “Savor the Slow Roast.” The “secret sauce” at Jay’s Famous is not one ingredient, but rather the Chef. Chef Jake Hizny, CEC, is the person that holds the keys to the kitchen. That kitchen is on the SW side of the convenience store next to the Dunkin Donuts counter. His kitchen is entered through a non-descript orange door with brown lettering which states, “Top Secret Kitchen” along with the Jay’s Famous logo. Although the unstoppable foodies have not been on a tour of the kitchen yet, it is obvious that is where the magic happens.
I was sitting on the Dunkin’ Donuts side of the convenience store which is just 2.9 miles from the house taking a coffee break with my Mexican daughter, Vania. She is with us for the next academic year as our exchange student & enjoys these coffee breaks. Moments later, Chef Jay rolled past with a cart full of amazing colored Nonna’s Chicken Tortellini soup.
As I introduced myself to Chef Jake, I mentioned we had a mutual friend in Chef Dave Pembleton. Chef Dave is one of the full time culinary instructors at Luzerne County Community College and a dear friend. Chef Jay also teaches at LCCC as an adjunct culinary instructor in between all his food endeavors, including the role of Corporate Executive Chef for Jay’s Famous. After our introductions, Jake “lit up” and took me for a tour of Jay’s Famous and the food he creates. The sign of great food is when somebody “lights up” with passion. I followed that passion to the cold deli case where he stacked his quarts of soups talking about all the fresh ingredients and how he rotates all his soups weekly. Chef Jake posts his soups for the week on Facebook. At the time of this post, the soups for the week of 10/22/18 were Pho Ga, Lasagna, Thanksgiving Soup, Steak Roasted Vegetable and Farro, Spinach and Clam, and Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
Not bad for a “gas station”, lol. Jake explained how is sandwiches are made with only the finest quality meats that are prepared with blends of secret spices and seasoned that are hand rubbed and slow-roasted for that unmistakable taste! He said when they were starting Jay’s Famous , they consulted with one of the famous “roast pork joints” in Philly. You can taste the quality immediately on the first bite. He showed me the selection of sandwiches which included; pork, roast beef, turkey and tuna. He also talked about his prepared salads, the side salads which include red potato salad, coleslaw, and past salad. We also talked about his signature kettle cooked potato chips with flavors like sea salt, Jay’s famous house seasoning and my favorite, the Magic BBQ dust. They are described as “highly addictive.”I guess me not putting the bag down while eating them, then turning the brown paper “sack” inside out to find any remaining “magic dust.”
Finally, he showed me the “hot counter” that features daily specials including the fish sandwich I tried that day. The quality of the food and the selection that goes into his menu reminds me of a movement within the general stores across New England and specifically Maine. These old time general stores have morphed into a culinary destination. Aside from your “dry goods” and household items, you can now get olives and cheese, Mexican-style tacos, wood-fired brick oven pizzas and farm fresh ingredients. I walked out of there with 3 sandwiches (turkey, Italian, and fish), one soup, a few side salads and a “sack” of kettled cooked BBQ chips. These general stores and now convenient stores have stepped up their grub game! We are fortunate to have a seasoned and enthusiast chef who takes classes at the Culinary Institute of America, consults with Philly Sandwich shops to learn the art of brining and seasoning his meats to slow roast, and master his soup game for our culinary enjoyment.
I opened my turkey hoagie up when I returned home and found these beautiful brined thick-cut slices of turkey breast. You can also top these well prepared sandwiches with these quality accompaniments: sautéed spinach, sautéed broccoli rabe, extra sharp provolone, provolone, roasted long hots, and roasted red peppers. As stated some many times in reviewing recipes and restaurants, it all starts with quality ingredients artfully prepared and served with love. You can feel the “love” in everything I sampled at Jay’s Famous. More importantly, I felt the love just speaking with him. Both his love of cooking, but more importantly, sharing his gift with the world. Prior to my wife taking her Soups and Sauce class at Luzerne College with Chef Dave Pembleton, I thought soup stock was something that comes out of a container like chicken or beef broth. I learned quickly, through Valarie that the soup stock is the foundation for great soup. Cheap stock or ill prepared stock and you might as well have soup from a can. Jay’s Famous soups was cleaned and packed with flavor. The tortellini and clear broth was the amazing. Soup is meant to be created in a kitchen and tended carefully to over the life of the recipe. Some stock are prepared days in advance. Soups with multiple days of preparation are easy to identify, like a good Pho Ga or Bun Bo Hue. Soup dates back to approximately 20,000 BC. Luckily, the techniques used to make great soups have been perfected by Chef Jake.
We hope you take a detour from the gas pump, coffee line or the busyness of life and stop in for an amazing treat at Jay’s Famous. I would suggest you try one of the ever changing soups, prepared salad, a sandwich and the famous kettle cooked chips. You decide how you want your sandwich made by a part-time high school student who assembles the pre-cut meats on an average roll or by an executive chef who passion for good quality ingredients and cooking techniques are reflected in his well thought out menu! Remember to tell Chef Jake that the unstoppable foodies sent you!
Dale & Valarie