Chef Joshua Skenes of Saison - Biography

San Francisco, CA

June 2010

Joshua Skenes never wavered about his career choice. He enrolled in The French Culinary Institute in New York directly after graduating from high school in Jacksonville, Florida and has since thrown himself into the kitchen and his passion. While in school, Skenes managed to balance his courses with a full-time position in the kitchen of famed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

After his 2001 graduation, Skenes moved to Boston to help open Troquet and to work under Anthony Ambrose at Ambrosia. Two years later, Skenes moved to San Francisco and quickly secured a position as the executive chef at the acclaimed restaurant Chez TJ in Mountain View. The San Francisco Chronicle awarded Skenes three and a half stars out of a possible four.

Chef Michael Mina recruited Skenes to help open Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach in 2005, where Skenes won more stars for his innovative approach to modern American cooking. After leaving Stonehill Tavern in 2006, Skenes returned to San Francisco and served as a consultant on menu and recipe development and overall concept with various restaurants.

Skenes had also spent significant time cultivating his own concept, Saison, which started out as a pop-up restaurant where he was able to serve his uber-seasonal dishes to a handful of tables a few nights a week. Chef Skenes believes that for ingredients to reach their fullest flavors, they should be prepared with components from the native land and sea from which they were harvested—recreating their natural habitat in edible form.

The Saison concept has proved so popular that Skenes and his partners rolled out the restaurant to be open five nights a week and expanded the enterprise to include a patio hearth, wood-burning bread oven, and 50-seat wine bar called Decanter. In early 2010 The San Francisco Chronicle named Skenes a Rising Star Chef and in June Skenes was celebrated as a Rising Star for his restaurant concept.