Credited with developing the culinary style known as “California Cuisine”, Jeremiah Tower was born in 1942 in Stamford, Connecticut, educated in Sydney, Australia; Surrey, UK, and earned a Masters Degree in Architecture from Harvard University, because of his obsession with finding the lost city of Atlantis. After his grandfather died in 1972, Jeremiah, who was used to being taken care of and supported, found himself out of money and in need of a job. He applied for a cooks job at Chez Panisse and was hired by Alice Waters because of his skills & brazen confidence when it came to creating great French traditional food. Within a year, he became equal partners and in full charge of the kitchen.
In 1978, he wanted to open a Panisse Café and his partners disagreed, so he left and worked briefly at Ventana Inn in Big Sur, California, then taught at the California Culinary Academy, and then in 1981 he went on to try and revive the dying Balboa Café in San Francisco.
In 1982, he became Executive Chef and co-owner at Berkeley’s Santa Fe Bar and Grill. Great Chefs caught up with Chef Jeremiah Tower in early 1983 to tape 6 dishes for their second series, Great Chefs of San Francisco, where he prepared Santa Fe Black Bean Cake; grilled Goat Cheese; Poached Fish; Suckling Pig with Santa Fe Baby Vegetables; a Warm Mixed Berry Compote and a Raspberry Fig Gratin.
In 1984, Tower turned over the reins of Santa Fe to Great Chef Mark Miller, and opened “Stars” in the San Francisco Civic Center, in partnership with his Santa Fe investors, which became an overnight sensation. In 1986, the Great Chefs television team caught up with Chef Jeremiah again, at Stars, for their new Great Chefs-Great Cities series which was breaking with a new food trend, “Southwestern Cuisine”. He prepared a Mushroom-filled Pasta Gratin and a Ballottine of Braised Duck, Chicken, Veal, and Foie Gras. At the same time, we were able to catch another Great Chef, Emily Luchetti, who prepared several pastries for the series.
Stars was among one of the top-grossing restaurants in the United States for close to a decade. Tower went on to open multiple branches around the world until he sold out in 1988 to a Singapore group. He consulted for several restaurants in Manila, New York city, Italy and Mexico, where he is now retired. Word on the street is that Anthony Bourdain is doing a documentary on Chef Tower, so we can’t wait to see how that will turn out.