JOEL HUFF


In an ever more cross-cultural world, it may come as no surprise that the ideal chef for Silks restaurant is a California-raised surfer who cites culinary experience in Europe, the Pacific Rim and his years as a sushi chef among his influences. Born and raised in a third-generation farm family in Oxnard, Huff attended Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. On his way to becoming a fireman, a friend invited him to come along to Denmark and cook for a summer. The experience changed his life. Upon returning to California, he enrolled in the culinary arts program at Santa Barbara City College and then attended the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.

He continued to hone his education cooking at San Ysidro Ranch, then later moved to Los Angeles to work as chef de partie at restaurant L’Orangiere. In 1999, Huff moved back to the coast where he worked for four years as a sushi chef at Juro Cho in Ventura. By now, fully immersed in the world of food and with fond memories of his time spent cooking in Denmark, Huff decided it was time to acquire first hand knowledge about cuisine in other countries. He bought a ticket around the world cooking in kitchens in Australia and Thailand.

Australia proved to make a big impression and he moved there working for two years at Restaurant VII, a French restaurant with Japanese influences. While in Australia he met his wife, and in 2003 decided it was time to return to the United States. Huff then went to New York and joined the culinary team as sous chef at Asiate, the restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Hotel New York. A French restaurant with Japanese influences, Asiate proved to be the perfect place to refine his skills under the direction of his old friend and mentor, chef Nori Sugi.

When Huff heard about the search for chef de cuisine at Silks, he knew it would be an ideal fit and was determined to make his mark at the cook-through tasting, a chefs equivalent of an audition. The culinary team was impressed by his originality, creativity and enthusiasm and Huff started his new position in February 2005.

“San Francisco has always been a crossroads of the world, especially the Pacific Rim,” says Huff. “Travel has brought me in contact with flavors and techniques that I’m incorporating in the menus at Silks, to create something I hope people will find really exciting. With the sophisticated and well traveled clientele of Silks, I’m gratified at how those ideas have been received so far.”

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