Chef José Gutierrez’s exceptional culinary creativity can be traced to his French heritage and Southern influences. Although native to France with Spanish roots, chef José has been a Memphis resident for over 30 years and hence, a true Southerner. He was born in Provence, France and began his culinary career at the Professional Culinary School in Manosque, France. After school, he worked under the direction of several esteemed chefs and then trained with the celebrated chef Paul Bocuse, creator of Nouvelle Cuisine.
At the age of 22, he moved to Houston, Texas, to serve as chef de cuisine at Restaurant de France at the Meridien Hotel. Two and half years later, in 1982, he began what turned out to be a distinguished, unparalleled 22-year career at the Peabody Hotel’s Chez Phillipe. Here he hosted “master nights” for master chefs and artists and guests included numerous dignitaries like Julia Child. He also held extravagant-themed dinners, such as one celebrating Cristal champagne (traditional champagne of Russian czars), where he created an 18-course menu based from an original 25-course menu from 1872 that Russian Grand Duke Alexei Romanov savored when he visited Memphis.
In 1996, Chef Jose was taped by Great Chefs Television at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis for the Great Chefs-Great Cities series. Then again, in 1997, he appeared in the Great Chefs of the South series for the Discovery Channel. In 2001, he was featured in the Great Chefs of America series that aired on both Discovery and the Travel Channel.
In 2005, chef José opened his own restaurant, Encore Restaurant and Bar, where he delighted guests with his contemporary French-style bistro cuisine. Five years later he joined River Oaks restaurant, which he and his wife, Colleen, now own. Chef José has expertly guided River Oaks
to its status today as one of Memphis’ premier eateries. José’s distinguished culinary career contains many awards and accolades including: (2011) Master Chef of the Year Designation – Maître Cuisinier de France; (1999) Great American Chef Award, Sullivan College’s National Center for Hospitality Studies; (1998) Chef of the Century, The American Academy of Hospitality and Sciences; (1997) Ivy Award Winner, Restaurants &
Institutions magazine; (1996) Master Chef Designation – Maître Cuisinier de France; and (1990) “America’s Best New Chef” award, Food & Wine magazine.