Jennifer Biesty Chef/Partner – Shakewell-Oakland
Chef Jennifer Biesty started cooking in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, when she was in high school, after becoming one of the youngest students at the CIA in Hyde Park, NY. Biesty interned in New Orleans at the acclaimed Sazerac restaurant, after graduation she returning to Manhattan and joining the four-star team of Aquavit.
Biesty moved to San Francisco to work under Loretta Keller at Bizou, who would quickly become her mentor. At Bizou, Biesty experienced an education in rustic, California-influenced French cookery. She gained an in-depth understanding of the farm-to-table process, and took advantage of the freedom Keller gave her to handcraft a menu and create dishes from whole fish, game, and fresh produce.
Biesty moved to Paris to gain experience of European culinary culture, spending time in France, Spain and Italy before settling in London to take a chef de partie position alongside renowned chefs Jamie Oliver, Ruth Rodgers and Rose Gray at The River Café London working with some of the high-quality ingredients Europe had to offer. She returned to San Francisco to work for Chef Traci des Jardins and Chef Richard Reddington at Jardinière restaurant as kitchen manager, handling butchery and creating strong relationships with local farmers and purveyors. Later Biesty became the Chef at Universal Café in trendy Mission district with much popularity.
COCO5OO, taking part in the restaurant’s design, concept, menu development, branding, and managing the back of the house team as Chef. In turn, the new restaurant was awarded three stars by the San Francisco Chronicle and StarChefs.com recognized Biesty as a Rising Star Chef. In 2008, the Bravo TV network to compete on season four of the critically acclaimed television show, Top Chef, recruited Biesty.
Following Top Chef Chicago, Biesty joined San Francisco’s Sir Francis Drake Hotel as Executive Chef in 2005, including the hotel’s renowned restaurant, Scala’s. At the Sir Francis Drake, Biesty managed the largest team of her career, oversaw a multi-million dollar food and beverage program at the hotel, and balanced creating a consistently profitable menu with staying true to her roots of purchasing and cooking with only high-quality, farm-driven ingredients. It is here Biesty met her future Shakewell business partner, Executive Pastry Chef Tim Nugent, whom she worked alongside for five years before opening Shakewell. In 2014, Biesty and Nugent brought bold Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine with global influences to the Lakeshore neighborhood of Oakland, and have never looked back.
“Pacific Gourmet or as we call them “Pac-G” is one of my go to tools when planning a new menu item. Pac G has a multitude of global ingredients to choose from and sometimes I find inspiration from a grain or spice they carry and can set me off in creating a new dish or simply remind me about using black cardamom & urfa biber chili flakes and how fantastic it would pair with spring carrots!”