Biography 

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John Cox

Chef Partner
The Orcas Hotel  Orcas Island, WA
Cultura Comida y Bebida   Carmel by The Sea, CA
Cult Taco  Monterey, CA

Chef John has had a passion for food and restaurants for as long as he can remember.  As a teenager he would save the money from his paper route until he had enough to take a bus into Santa Fe and dine at one of the restaurants he had highlighted in the local dining guide.  When John was 16 years old, he left an apprenticeship with an airplane mechanic to start as a dishwasher at a local bistro in Northern New Mexico.  Two years later he was enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT.  Abacus, Kent Rathbun’s flagship restaurant in Dallas, was John’ s first experience in a true fine-dining kitchen.  He has fond memories of the fusion menu, which allowed him to work with two 90,000 BTU woks and a wood fired pizza oven.   

 

Upon graduating from culinary school, John packed his bags and moved to Big Sur, California to work with Craig Von Foerster at Post Ranch Inn.  The tiny kitchen, perched on a cliff high above the Pacific Ocean, was instrumental in forming John’s own philosophy of micro-regional cooking and reflecting a sense of place.  Over the course of three years, he worked his way up through the ranks from culinary intern to Chef de Cuisine. 

 

Passport Resorts, the owners of Post Ranch Inn, offered John the opportunity to move into a corporate chef position and oversee Hotel Hana Maui and Sea Ranch Lodge in Sonoma.  During his time as Corporate Chef with Passport Resorts, John worked on building relationships between the hotels and the farmers, fisherman and artisans within the communities.  The resulting restaurants garnered strong local and national coverage, including a Mayor’s Award for Sustainable Agriculture. 

 

After six years with Passport Resorts, John accepted a position as Corporate Chef with Noble House Hotels, overseeing 12 properties across the country, from Key West to Seattle.  He worked to develop culinary concepts and standard operating procedures which were then implemented across the company.  

 

In 2009, John moved back to the West Coast to be the Corporate Chef for the Georis family’s restaurant group in Carmel.  He worked closely with Walter and Gaston to re-conceptualize the menus at Casanova, and to expand the operations at La Bicyclette, doubling the footprint of the restaurant and adding a wood-fired oven concept.  Over the three years he worked with the family, Casanova and La Bicyclette grew to new heights, garnering attention from the San Francisco Chronicle and Food & Wine Magazine.  

 

When Craig Von Foerster left Post Ranch in 2012, Passport Resorts once again called, to see if John would be interested in taking over the kitchen.  During the four years he spent at Sierra Mar, John developed a unique cuisine that highlighted the Big Sur Coast, drawing heavily on indigenous ingredients and reflecting his passion for micro-regional cooking.  Food journalists quickly caught word of the Taste of Big Sur menu, featuring items such as toasted acorn flour, dried native grasses, black ants, sea cucumbers and even live jellyfish.  In 2014, Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle compared Sierra Mar to Atelier Crenn:

 

“Cox is all about presentation, and he could be called the Dominique Crenn of the Central Coast. His mushroom forest hit all the high notes with culinary artistry; the pickled, dried and roasted mushrooms were set in a "soil" made with toasted nuts, grains and a splash of color from two elongated radishes from the garden, complete with tap root and leaves. In the center was a white mushroom that I didn't realize was made of meringue until it shattered when pierced with a fork, scattering its candy cap flavoring over the rest of the dish” - Michael Bauer, SF Chronicle 

 

John has also cooked privately for many celebrities, including everyone from Michelin Three Star Chefs to the Silicon Valley and Holloywood elite.  From intimate dinners in private homes to 300 person weddings, John has built a reputation for his wild creativity and attention to detail.  

 

John's creativity extends beyond cooking-- his writing and photography have been published extensively in Edible Magazine. In addition, John developed a method for clearing plates with compressed air, all but eliminating the need for a “pre-rinse” hose while California was facing the height of a historic drought in 2015.  The idea quickly caught on and was covered everywhere from The New York Times to NPR.  Hotels and restaurants around the world contacted John to see how they could install their own air system.  With the potential for a daily water savings of 800 gallons per restaurant, per day, even city governments took note, offering to work with John to develop the idea and make it available to businesses, a project he continues to develop at present.

 

Currently, when not travelling the world, John is consulting on various projects around the country. 

 

 

© 2019 By John Cox