Q&A With Saison Chef Joshua Skenes

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 9 years old.

Joshua Skenes. Photo: Mark Leet
Joshua Skenes. Photo: Mark Leet

Late last November, the restaurant Saison changed its seating and concept with something called “The Switch,” which was a move meant to transform the popular restaurant into a one-seating per night affair. Chef-owner Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright wanted to bring an intimate and intuitive experience to diners in their 18-seat space, and The Switch happened on the heels of the restaurant receiving its second Michelin star -- one of only six in the San Francisco Bay Area. An announcement on this change explained the updated take: “Saison’s revolutionary Chef’s Counter Dinners embody evolving trends in both the kitchen and in technology as the experience consists of 16+ complex courses.”

Chef Skenes is from Jacksonville, Florida and was named a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” in 2011. The San Francisco Chronicle awarded Skenes a Rising Star Chef mention in 2010 and the same year Skenes was celebrated as a StarChefs.com Rising Star. Skenes got his culinary professional start when he worked full-time for Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten while attending The French Culinary Institute in New York. Skenes worked in Boston at Troquet, and with chef Anthony Ambrose at Ambrosia. Chef Skenes then arrived on the West Coast and worked as executive chef for Chez TJ, in Mountain View. Skenes opened Stonehill Tavern in Monarch Beach for Chef Michael Mina next, and from there he moved on to restaurant and recipe R&D consulting back in San Francisco. Skenes lives in the Panhandle in San Francisco, and told Bay Area Bites somewhat mysteriously that “Martial Arts, forever” is his significant other.

What’s new?
Everything continues to change. We are in the middle of a snowball of evolution. It’s exciting.

What are your favorite spots to shop and find food?
The Saturday Ferry Building market and Sunday Marin market are both quite nice.
I also go to my foraging spots in the wild, or my garden but I can’t tell you where the spots are.


What are your favorite dining spots?
Cotogna -- whatever is on the menu for the day. [Wine director] David Lynch is awesome.
Dim Sum Sunday mornings at Mayflower.
Zuni -- the drinks are especially good.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Ice cream.

Any news on projects besides The Switch?
A book has been in the works, and it’s all centered around fire. (The restaurant has the only Molteni stove in San Francisco.)

What are your favorite meals to have with your family?

A Thanksgiving feast together.
Going out to Z & Y restaurant in Chinatown.