New Chef in Town: Jake Demars

— By Design presents dsmDining —

Above: Jake Demars is the new head chef at Marlene’s at Sevastapol Station on Des Moines’ south side. (Photo: Alyssa Pagels)


By Wini Moranville

Jake Demars has taken over the kitchen at Marlene’s at Sevastapol Station, and the Massachusetts native brings with him some major culinary pedigree.

While his CV doesn’t include culinary school (an early mentor advised him that learning on the job was the better path), he has been working in the industry since he was 13. As an adult, Demars cooked through restaurants in Denver for three years; he later moved to Chicago to gain experience in Michelin-starred restaurants. While working on the culinary team at Elizabeth Restaurant, the venue was awarded a Michelin star for the first time.

Demars’ five years in Chicago also included stints at Spiaggia (another Michelin-starred spot), Steadfast, Trencherman in Wicker Park and Juno, where he worked his way up to executive chef. He also operated his own underground restaurant, Open Circuit.

What is he hoping to bring to Marlene’s? “The goal is to bring the type of food that Des Moines hasn’t seen here yet,” he says. “My pop-up restaurant was very artistic. We’re being as experimental as we can, while staying on path with the neighborhood.”

Kim Carstens, owner of Marlene’s, is enthusiastic about the changes Demars is bringing. “Jake heading up the kitchen at Marlene’s is an eye-opening experience. … His dishes look like art, and there are levels of flavor as you enjoy each bite. He brings fun to the dining experience with the ‘first bite,’ which is a white chocolate sphere with matcha tea, jalapenos and orange bitters. Pop it in your mouth, bite down and let the flavors take over.”

Marlene’s is at 1938 S.E. Sixth St.; (515) 288-0898;

Wini Moranville covers food, wine and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food – DSM Wini Moranville.

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