Dear Chef: 002 | Jeremiah Tower | Highlights

Jeremiah Tower | Highlights

We asked you to ask him anything, and you did!
Jeremiah Tower is closely associated with Chez Panisse, where he wrote the menu back in the 70’s, inventing what became known as California Cuisine. After a dramatic falling out with co-owner Alice Waters over the future of Panisse, he went out on his own, opening San Francisco’s luxurious “Stars”. He continued refining his craft there, training a host of generational talents. Dominique Crenn, Joey Altman, and Mario Batali all came up through the ranks at Stars.
After selling Stars in 1998, Tower moved to Mexico, where he avoided the spotlight for almost 15 years. It’s only now, in 2017, that he’s becoming a household name once more, thanks in large part to the Anthony Bourdain-produced documentary “Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent”, which is now eligible for Oscar consideration.
As a part of our “Dear Chef” series, Jeremiah spent some time on our Facebook recently, answering your questions about life, business, the kitchen, and more. Check out what he had to say, and make sure you’re connected with us on social media and on the Chef’s Roll app!


Roy V Hi Chef! Still savoring our chat from last I saw you in Miami! Also thanks for signing the books for me and chef Ralph! My question is do you plan on cooking professionally again? Maybe even pop up and one night dinners?

John H  I recently spoke with Jeremiah about an opportunity to do some guest chef events in Costa Rica next year. He has all of the information, hoping to make it happen. Some great local foods available to cook with, he has a (LONG) list of all of the products available.

Jeremiah Tower  A pop up or two a fine idea, if I can do it with you and Ralph!

Roy V  Oooh! Don’t be a tease chef! We can make that happen!!🙂
Roy V  We can do a dinner in Miami, whenever you like Chef!
Roy V  Cindy, what do you think?

Francois d M  You guys need a dishwasher? seriously.
Francois d M  Have truffles, will travel.

Cindy L  It’s sounds like we have the makings of an incredible dinner Roy. I volunteer to wash dishes too with Francois and his truffles.🍾

Roy V  Let’s go before it gets hot again!🙂

Jeremiah Tower  Yes, way too hot the last time. Give me some ideas and let’s do it.
Jeremiah Tower  Ideas of where exactly

Roy V  Yes it was! Oh, and yes chef! Will definitely look into it! Now, I’m excited!
Cindy, Francois… we gotta make this happen and Rock it!
We’re on it Chef Jeremiah!!
Roy V  I have a lot of friends in Miami, and chef Ralph has a few places. Plenty of options!🙂
Roy V  Thanks Francois! That’s would be awesome!
Roy V  Message sent!🙂
Roy V  Cindy, we owe it to the planet to make this happen!🙂
Roy V  Daniel, are you reading this?!?
Roy V  I would really love to see what chef Jeremiah would do to fresh ingredients trends of today…

Daniel S  Roy, I am, now. Whatever I can do to make it happen, chefs. My hands are yours.

Roy V  Daniel thanks brother!!


Tommy G When it comes to Seafood here in the states domestic Seafood is more expensive than foreign Seafood which is flown in what would be your choice. Would your choice be to buy local sustainably harvested Seafood or a cheaper Source Seafood from far away lands

Jeremiah Tower  Everyone stop eating tuna! Buy the best and freshest, no matter where it comes from, truly sustainable not just labelled as such, and almost no farms unless you have checked each farm out for feed, drugs, disease, and ruining its environment.

Jon H Hi Jeremiah. When you go deep sea fishing in Mexico do you do it just for sport or do you also eat what you catch. Also what kind of fish are in the waters around Merida, Mexico?

Jeremiah Tower No fishing for me since I am a hypocrte and let others do the killing. Not sure that the fish always survive the release system. SCUBA only for me. As for the best fish to eat, boquinete or Hog Fish which must be speared since won’t take a line. See hypocrite above. And please EVERYONE STOP EATING TUNA FOR 5 YRS.

Jon H Thanks Chef!

Bruce M I have seen boxes of iced swordfish labeled Vietnam. How fresh are they when they get here?
Is this an example?

Jeremiah Tower Cannot imagine very fresh since how long from boat to plane and then the trip. Frozen or not is the question, and if only iced, on the bottom of the pile or the last caught and on ice a day only.

Dawn A Do u find it better to use cooking sherry or white wine? I find too often sherry gives a bitter taste and white wine enhances flavors, what is your professional opinion

Jeremiah Tower Sherry is much more specific and the sweet ones good for desserts, but they dry ones only when that taste and effect the exact ones you want. Whereas a dry white wine will give a structure to sauces and better butter emulsions. Keep the strongly-flavored sauvignon blancs and chardonnays in your glass and the milder ones in your food.

Dawn A  Thank you Chef! Its nice to hear i am on the same track as professionals

Logan K Hello again chef. 🖤 What is your favorite winter vegetable?

Jeremiah Tower I adore parsnips, cooked with black truffles. My other favorite.

Travis C  CHEF! Pineapple on pizza or no?

Jeremiah Tower Hate that so NO!

Travis C  My man!

Francois d M  Jeremiah Tower amen.


Barry S Chef worked in SF after I graduated from CIA 1985 to 1988 had the great pleasure of eating at Stars and being inspired by you, Brad Ogden, Alice Waters and all the amazing culinarians there at the time.
Going to be in Seville in Jan do you have a couple cant miss places to eat to recommend? Please come down and visit us in the summer at the Del Mar Racetrack would love to cook for you anytime! Thanks for blazing an amazing trail for all of us to follow.

Jeremiah Tower Enjoy Seville, and try any of those that look good within 10 mins walk from that giant sculpture at the edge of the historic center

Barry S Thanks Chef!

Jon M Chef, Thank you so much for paving the way for Chefs like me to stand out and make this craft something to be proud of. I’m trying to open a restaurant in Tacoma,WA, and I would love any advice into gaining the right investors, or getting his project off the ground. You are such an inspiration to me personally, and I know to many others.

Jeremiah Tower Thank you Jon. Even after Panisse and another successful one – Santa Be Bar & Grill – no one would listen until I found a banker who would. I put up all I had and the banker the rest. It took me 2 yrs. So start with a partnership and see if you can find some limited partners that you can later buy out. Beat all the bushes and then some more.
Jeremiah Tower Social media now makes the bushes easier to beat, and you can do a sexy proposal.

Jon M Thank you so much Chef. Partnership is definitely the way I’m leaning. Or 100% investment. Even with an SBA loan, it puts me in a hole too deep to dig out. I am extremely grateful to you and your words of leadership. I hope to dine with you one day! #howouiroll

Eva L What is the future for food now? Culinary School or on the job training? Chef or Cook? Small restaurant or corporate group? What is your advice for a young woman in the professional kitchen today?

Jeremiah Tower Wow – that is a lifetime of questions. On the job, cook first then work up to chef, work for whoever impresses you and plan for your own and start small, have the best work ethic and open mind and you are off to the races and finishing line.

Eva L Amazing Amen 🙏🏼

Tedd R Chef what are the most influential books you’ve read (culinary or other) and what inspires you daily? And thank you for your time today.

Jeremiah Tower Hi Tedd -and my pleasure to answer you! What inspires me is that always has, perfect ingredients and markets – Seville, Barcelona, Santa Monica Farmer’s mkt Elizabeth David, Richard Olney, Le Guide Culinaire, Larousse Gastronomique, Alice B Toklas Cookbook and others.

Tedd R Jeremiah Tower I can’t wait to visit the Spanish markets next year when we travel to Spain .. Living in the Bay Area/Napa Valley we have great markets but I have also heard great things about the Santa Monica farmers market. Thank you and have a blessed holiday season.! Look forward to meeting you one day. Thank you Cindy and Chef’s Roll for allowing this opportunity.

Paul C.  What can keep me from getting discouraged?

Jeremiah Tower One should not get discouraged with seafood, yet it and the oceans very discouraging now Let the best ingredients be your inspiration, work to protect them.

Paul C.  I will, thank you!

Matt B  What drives you, and or is it something you’re born with.

Jeremiah Tower Apart from the silver spoon you mean!! If not born with, you get the same drive that you have Norman, then it’s the markets in Spain, Santa Monica, Sevilla, and the ingredients.


Victor S Chef, with all of the changes in labor laws, minimum wage, health care, cost of business, etc. where do you see the small one off restaurant being able to survive?

Jeremiah Tower Probably the only out of the good ones that will. That old model of the male chef in the kitchen, his female partner in the dining room, and mother or father handling the money still the best, and all the roles can be reversed and switched.

Anez V Dear Chef, Climate Change, Technology and Social Ranks ; arent you so glad you helped build brave souls to go against times like these.?
Have a peaceful night. Xoxooxoxox

Jeremiah Tower And what is happening to the oceans, yes, happy to not face that for the next 50 years. The tech is good if not seen as the be and end all, and social ranks, well, best leave that to others to figure out.

Anez V Enough said!! Thanks for the reply Chef Jeremiah Tower!! Made me smile!

Joshua T Hi Chef! Thank you for paving the way in our industry. I was curious as to if it’s possible to get your cookbook “Jeremiah Towers Cooks” personalized? Now here is the real question. At what point do you consider someone a Chef, and a Chef who opens a ton of restaurants (AKA a restauranteur?)

Jeremiah Tower A chef can be a restaurateur, (no ‘n’) with only one restaurant, but it has to have all the cylinders firing – see the footage of Stars in the TLM doc. In other words, as passionate about the decor, beverages, bar, PR and all that as the food. A chef when you are running the whole kitchen as an exec, and are the food leader as well, chef de cuisine. And the book, next time you see me.

Francois d M Dear Chef, It was an honor to meet you at Versace mansion a fe wmonths back. I grew up in a restaurant family from Perigord and started cooking in the early 1980’s. You always were a hero and I have to admit when I heard you were working at TOG it surprised me. Not because you had been out of the spotlight for solong but of all places. It seemed TOG was going through a lot of rough stretches with chefs coming and going. What was the pull to that place of all places? What do you think about the state of the restaurant business now compared to when you were at Panisse and Stars.

Jeremiah Tower Hi Francois, and my pleasure to meet you. And thank you for the compliments. TOG was a slim chance, and I have a fatal attraction to those challenges. We almost turned it around (was there only 3 months) as you saw in the film. The revolution has worked, sometimes too well, The abundance of ingredients sometimes too dazzling for chefs, and they should remember that JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD.

Francois d Mel As I get older, I like simpler food and simpler platings.

Martin K Chef how about staffing todays market. There seems to be no drive coming up the rank?

Jeremiah Tower They all want to be a TV chef, and the work ethic has been diluted because of it. TV makes it all seem easy.

James B  Chef who was your biggest inspiration as a young Chef and who was your favorite to work under

Jeremiah Tower Never worked under anyone, but inspirations were from age 16 Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine, then Elizabeth David and Richard Olney, the Maxim;s cookbook and cookbook of Fernand Point

James B  Jeremiah Tower Thanks Chef.

Gary A Hello JT.. whatever happened to big Walt? He was a great customer and a bit of a mentor for some of the bar staff. I’m assuming he moved back to NY but would love touch base. ALL THE BEST

Jeremiah Tower Lost track of him, tried to keep in touch and then it was obvious he didn’t want to. Sad.

Gary A Thank you JT…. continued success from a very proud STARS alumnus.. HEALTH AND HAPPINESS.

Want more Dear Chef?  Make sure you’re connected with us on social media and on the Chef’s Roll app! We are brewing a great list of Chefs, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to connect with.