It’s not easy to coerce Jonathan Vaughn into talking about himself. It’s not that he’s shy, just that this tender and tall drink of water is more likely to tell you all of the reasons his best friend should be a Vita.mn Crush contender than to sing his own praises.
Of all the male Crush finalists at this year’s meet-and-greet at Clubhouse Jäger, Jonathan stood out easily as the happiest to be there. Eager to talk to everyone, he circled the room, enthusiastically engaging each person he encountered, whether it was the photographer or the cook just coming over to refill the deviled egg tray. “I was so excited to be there, I felt like a puppy,” he says, grinning. “I probably looked like one, too.”
More like a total fox. Jonathan’s gentle brown eyes are the embodiment of kind, set under a delicate brow that accentuates his softer features. He hides perfectly symmetrical cheek dimples under a five o’clock shadow, but they peek out every time he smiles, which is often. These features, along with his soft hair pulled back into a loose ponytail and his frequent sartorial choices — a fuzzy scarf, a fleecy sweater, a knit hat — suggest a theme: a gentle man who’s a gentleman. He stood to greet me (chivalry!) on our second meeting and proceeded to woo with his altruistic nature over a couple of beers at the Bulldog in downtown Minneapolis.
Jonathan has been with the top-shelf seafood distributor Coastal Seafoods for 4½ years, a job befitting a man who likes to work with his hands. He might spend his days picking up shipments from the airport, packing orders and delivering them to restaurants or filleting fish for particular accounts. Jonathan enjoys being able to watch how different local chefs operate. “You can tell so much about a restaurant based on what they order, how they order it and what their feedback is after they receive it,” he says.
Jonathan’s experience in the local restaurant industry forces us off the record over and over, spilling the beans about the who’s who and what’s new in Twin Cities kitchens. Every turn of conversation takes us back to cooking, eating and chefs. Jonathan has a particular fondness for chef Don Saunders (the Kenwood) after getting the opportunity to stage in his kitchen. He also expresses utter admiration for Doug Flicker (Piccolo).
In a rare moment, Jonathan talks about himself without being prompted. He explains his love/hate relationship with Facebook — “I go through phases where I delete tons of people only to then get super active with it later and add a bunch more” — and his reason for eschewing the smartphone lifestyle. Not only did he not toss his phone on the bar like most of us do, but he never took it out of his pocket the entire evening. Not long ago, he went old-school and opted for a device with no e-mail or Internet capability.
“My smartphone was a distraction from conversation, a distraction from life,” he explains, palms waving toward the people all around us in a quiet gesture that says, “Why miss all this?”
PROFILE: JONATHAN VAUGHN
Lives in: East Phillips, south Minneapolis.
Status: In a relationship.
Education: Working toward a degree with a focus on marine stewardship.
Occupation: Fishmonger at Coastal Seafoods.
Hangouts: Al’s Breakfast and the Kenwood throw down a mean Hollandaise. Going anywhere to shake a tailfeather is likely happening at Honey or Club Jäger. If it’s summer you can’t keep me from biking around the lakes during the day or places with the best views at night. With these spots in mind you have to have the right attire and I find mine at Buffalo Exchange, Savers or MartinPatrick3.
Turn-ons: Someone who smiles with their eyes.
Nominated by: The lovable girl I’m lucky enough to call my girlfriend.