Chef Joseph Offner for MESA & BAR Magazine TOP CHEFS OF SAN FRANCISCO Special Edition
Chef Joseph Offner for MESA & BAR Magazine TOP CHEFS OF SAN FRANCISCO Special Edition | Foto: Chef Joseph Offner for MESA & BAR Magazine TOP CHEFS OF SAN FRANCISCO Special Edition

Chef Joseph Offner, The Soul of the Kitchen

Por: Edward Rueda

19, May, 2022 en Luxury Traveler

The Soul of the Kitchen

Geraldine Zialcita

Spending time in the kitchen enables you to explore your taste buds, understand the concept of food, and cultivate an appreciation for cooking. Executive Chef Joseph Offner foresaw from the very start that the kitchen would serve to be the foundation for his career.

With a clear, concise goal, and unwavering faith, Joseph traversed the road he truly desired, without looking sideways or backward, and this led him to manifest his ultimate dream. “It has been my childhood dream to be an executive chef where I would eventually have my own restaurant. I must have been 16 years old when my dad and I were driving down the highway in St. Louis with my dad, and I told him I needed to get a job. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I think I want to cook. My dad bought and sold food his entire life and was well connected with some chefs. The next thing I knew, I had a job in a kitchen at a local hotel―Millennium Hotel, and as they say, the rest is history,” he shares.

Chef Joseph Offner for MESA & BAR Magazine TOP CHEFS OF SAN FRANCISCO Special Edition
Chef Joseph Offner for MESA & BAR Magazine TOP CHEFS OF SAN FRANCISCO Special Edition

As the Executive Chef at The Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina, Joseph is fond of international cuisines and works behind the scenes to concoct the sumptuous dishes, Joseph draws inspiration from cooking with fresh ingredients and making people happy. For Joseph, food equates to love which connects and brings joy to people’s lives. “I like to think of myself as a student of global cuisine, there are so many different cuisines, ingredients, and techniques, and I can’t say I favor one over the other, they all interest me, though I do love pasta.” He winks.

With a strong influence from his Italian heritage and culture, Joseph shares a soft spot for Italian food. “What makes Italian food unique is the warmth and joy it brings people. I can’t really put my finger on it, it’s simple and delicious. I think that’s what separates it from other types of cuisines,” he describes.

Joseph initially pursued his culinary career in Chicago at Broadway Cellars before moving to Las Vegas in 2013 to work with award-winning Chef Rick Moonen at RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. He returned to California to work as an Executive Sous Chef at Alexander’s Steakhouse, an upscale Japanese-infused restaurant in San Francisco. “It was there that I gained extensive knowledge of Asian and Japanese ingredients, including several types of Wagyu beef. On that account, I was sent to Taiwan to expand my craft and open the Alexander’s Steakhouse in Taipei. Upon my return, I continued at their flagship in Cupertino, California under the tutelage of Michelin-starred Chef Claude Le Tohic. In 2017, I accepted an offer as Chef de Cuisine of Presidio Social Club in San Francisco, where I helmed the kitchen with Chefs Ray Tang and Wesley Shaw. Most recently, I served as Executive Chef at The Trident in Sausalito where I evolved a seafood-centric menu for three years,” he informs.

Joseph credits his gastronomic venture to Claude Le Tohic, Johnny Church, and Michael Mina who have played a pivotal role in his career and cuisine. “Claude has a warmth to him that I admire, and I’ve always looked up to Johnny’s work ethic. Working for Michael Mina who is one of the most prestigious chefs in the industry and being an Executive Chef at The Bungalow Kitchen has enabled me to meet so many people which is very rewarding,” he relays.

The Bungalow Kitchen is nestled in Tiburon and known for its Bohemian waterfront community clubhouse with breathtaking views that serve deluxe California cuisine in a vibrant social setting. Some of their sought after dishes include the Ahi Tuna Tartare, mixed tableside with chili peppers, mint, garlic, pine nuts, and drizzled habanero-sesame oil; the Michael Mina Reserve Caviar Parfait complete with a crispy potato cake topped with smoked salmon, sieved egg, and whipped crème fraiche; and the Lobster Pot Pie, a Chef Mina signature, comprised of a whole Maine lobster, truffle-lobster bisque, and root vegetables; among others.

Aside from cooking mouth-watering dishes for the restaurant, Joseph is in charge of ordering, scheduling, and keeping the place alive and flourishing. Joseph believes that cooking can be both an inborn talent or an acquired skill as long as you are passionate about what you do. “I have worked hard to be able to do what I do and have learned from some of the best. But my wife, for instance, has this natural ability to just cook anything she wants. Sometimes I get jealous and say, hey man, it took me years to perfect that, and you just picked it up and nailed it,” he quips.

Through his knowledge, skill, and experience, Joseph believes there is more to just cooking a savory dish. Understanding the concept of what’s appetizing for the eye should also taste good, Joseph balances aesthetics with taste so you can admire, indulge and enjoy. Joseph likes to find peaceful and tranquil places that inspire him and his cooking. His greatest achievements include opening a steakhouse in Taiwan, winning a few “Best of” awards, and his present position as the Executive Chef of Michael Mina. “After all these years, being a chef has taught me so much about myself that I may never have learned if I chose another endeavor,” he states.

Chef Joseph Offner for MESA & BAR Magazine TOP CHEFS OF SAN FRANCISCO Special Edition
Chef Joseph Offner for MESA & BAR Magazine TOP CHEFS OF SAN FRANCISCO Special Edition

The role of a chef consists of many phases from concept, preparation, cooking, and presentation to serving hearty dishes to the customer and Joseph covers all angles with accuracy and style. Although he has encountered challenges, Joseph keeps his head high and focuses on how he can beat them. “Adversity is part of the industry; you just have to grit your teeth and push through them,” he conveys.

While he has reached the summit of his career, this talented chef pushes the envelope and hopes to open his own restaurant. When not working, he spends quality time with his wife where they enjoy going on walks and playing video games. Joseph expresses his creativity by encouraging the food to speak to his heart so he can cook meals made with love. Joseph Offner is the soul of the kitchen who loves bringing a smile to people’s faces.