Chef Jay

Jeremy “Jay” Gleason, 36, may have grown up in an American Indian home, but he proudly stated that his grandmother and aunts cooked more than just beans and frybread. They inspired in him a deep love for food – a love that led to careers in some of the most esteemed kitchens of the Pacific Northwest.
Gleason left home at 17 and moved to Durango, Colorado, seeking his first experience in a professional kitchen. He worked with a couple from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as they struggled to open their own restaurant in the tough Southwest Colorado market.
He cleaned the bathrooms and the dishes, slowly working his way up to second manager.
Gleason, a Navajo, not only attended Western Culinary School in Portland, Oregon, he spent years learning from top French chefs.
After working in 25 restaurants, Gleason has settled down at Three Rivers Eatery and Brewpub, where he is the executive chef. His position includes managing a cooking staff of 12 people who work four at a time in the kitchen preparing dishes from a menu of 136 items.
Gleason also oversees Three Rivers Pizzeria, the banquet hall and the soon-to-be-opened Three Rivers Bistro, featuring specialty tapas plates.
Three Rivers’ owners John Silva and Bob Beckley approached Gleason five years ago with an offer to manage their kitchen.
“When I first walked in everything was frozen. They would open a bag to make the food,” Gleason
said. He slowly changed the way things were done by preparing fresh foods instead of frozen. “Now we make 95 percent of everything from scratch.”
There are about four chefs in the kitchen at any given time.
“There’s characters of all sorts. It’s a flavorful restaurant of different characters – crazy people, who all come together to make it work,” Gleason said.