May 14, 1968 |
Meridian, Mississippi, USA
|Education||Culinary Institute of America|
|Spouse||Jenifer Besh (attorney)|
John Besh is chef, TV personality, philanthropist, restaurateur and author of two cookbooks: My New Orleans and My Family Table. Besh is the owner and executive chef at Restaurant August in New Orleans, Louisiana (twice on Gourmet Magazine’s list of Best Restaurants), and nine other restaurants including La Provence, The American Sector, Lüke (New Orleans and San Antonio), Besh Steak (located in Harrah's New Orleans Casino), Domenica in the Roosevelt Hotel and newest addition Borgne located in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Besh's first solo-authored cookbook, My New Orleans: The Cookbook: 200 of My Favorite Recipes & Stories from My Hometown was published in 2009, and second published in 2011, "My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking."
Besh was born in Meridian, Mississippi, and raised in south Louisiana. He loved to hunt and also fish. In 1986, John graduated from St. Stanislaus College High School (Bay St Louis, MS), and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a reservist. He also attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1992. Called to active duty for 10 months in 1990 to serve in the Middle East, he was a non-commissioned officer during Operation Desert Storm, and participated in the capture of Kuwait International Airport. He studied in Germany with Karl Josef Fuchs at the Michelin-starred Romantik Hotel Spielweg. Besh has also studied in the south of France with Alain Assaud.
As the father of four sons—Brendan, Jack, Luke, and Andrew—Besh takes breaks from some of New Orleans' most popular restaurants to continue a longstanding family tradition: fishing. In an interview, Besh says he wants his sons to understand the origin of local foods and the knowledge of food at its source. "My sons think I'm crazy," he says, laughing, "because I want them to learn how to make a roux and a gumbo."
Besh was named one of the Ten Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 1999. In 2006, he won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the Southeast  and was awarded Food Arts’ Silver Spoon Award in 2009 for revitalizing the culinary legacy of New Orleans. Besh’s devotion to local ingredients and local cuisine also extends to his entrepreneurial projects, including the creation of Besh Restaurant Group Catering; the launch of a line of gourmet products; and the publication of his two cookbooks. A former U.S. Marine, Besh is proud to have partnered with Baton Rouge-based emergency reconstruction specialists Arkel International, for which he creates high quality ready-to-eat meals for distribution to thousands of emergency response teams and sustained strategic operations in the U.S. and around the world; the novel initiative promotes the Gulf Coast’s food culture as it elevates the Louisiana economy. In recognition of such far-reaching contributions, the Louisiana Restaurant Association named him Restaurateur of the Year in 2008.
His flagship restaurant is Restaurant August which opened in 2001 in Central Business District, New Orleans. Since then he has opened eight more restaurants in New Orleans and one in San Antonio. When his mentor, Chris Kerageorgiou, died in 2006, Besh took over La Provence, the restaurant Kerageorgiou had founded. In September 2009, Besh opened Domenica in the recently renovated Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel serving Italian dishes. Besh competed against seven other renowned chefs in the first season of the Food Network's The Next Iron Chef, surviving throughout the competition to battle Michael Symon for the title. Though Symon was selected as the Iron Chef, Besh's work was highly praised by the judges and the Iron Chefs alike.
||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (May 2012)|
August is located in a historic 19th century French-Creole building in New Orleans’ Central Business District. The interior has original architectural details, hardwood floors, columns, mahogany paneling and antique mirrors. The main dining area caters includes three rooms: the main dining room with crystal chandeliers, the two-story wine room and the more intimate Gravier room.
The cuisine at August is contemporary French cuisine with an emphasis on local ingredients. It is inspired by Chef John Besh’s classical culinary training in New Orleans and Europe, including his Southern Louisiana heritage. August was a semifinalist for the 2012 James Beard Awards Outstanding Restaurant, and Open Table’s Diner’s Choice Top 100 Restaurants in 2011. Pastry chef, Kelly Fields was awarded Food& Wine People’s Best New Chef Central in 2012
Located inside The National World War II Museum, The American Sector puts a sassy new spin on the most popular staples of American cuisine. Old traditions become new favorites as Chef John Besh transforms hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, milkshakes and more into delicious new dishes for diners to enjoy in this charming setting.
Also located inside The National World War II Museum, the Soda Shop offers fountain sodas in Melon, Pineapple, Nectar and special seasonal versions, served in vintage 1-quart seltzer bottles; house-made ice creams and milkshakes in flavors such as Bananas Foster, Sector Candy Bar Crunch and Creole Cream Cheese Red Velvet; and an array of signature sandwiches, homemade soups, sweet treats and breakfast items including a “build your own biscuit” option.
The restaurant melds Chef John Besh's devotion to local Louisiana ingredients and techniques with traditional steakhouse menu items. Wine and spirits are also an integral part of the dining experience at Besh Steak, with hand-selected cellar choices to accompany each dish.
The press has welcomed this refreshing steak house since it opened in 2003, from Gourmet to Southern Living. Local arbiter The Times Picayune states that "All modern steakhouses of any merit are forums for conspicuous consumption, but Besh’s ups the ante," and "in the whirlwind world of high-rollers and slot machines, Besh Steak holds a winning hand." In 2010, Besh Steak was awarded Open Table’s Diners Choice. New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles declares "Besh Steak is an odds-on favorite to make Harrah's New Orleans Casino a new destination for foodies."
Chefs John Besh and Brian Landry grew up fishing on Lake Borgne, the epicenter of coastal cuisine in Louisiana. Their shared passion for Louisiana seafood brought them together to create Borgne, Besh's ninth restaurant and a celebration of coastal Louisiana with a touch of Isleño influence. Located inside the Hyatt Regency, Borgne is a gathering place for locals and visitors alike and a Central Business District lunch spot. Borgne’s signature dishes include shrimp toast rissoles, oyster spaghetti and seafood stuffed flounder.
The name means “Sunday” in Italian, and partners John Besh and Alon Shaya have created a restaurant in the renovated historic Roosevelt Hotel that is as warm and inviting as a traditional Sunday supper in a rural Italian village, where each bountiful dish is lovingly prepared with the purest ingredients according to ages-old technique.
In 2011, the Times Picayune named Domenica one of the Top Ten Restaurants in New Orleans. In 2012, Shaya was named Food& Wine’s Best New Chef Gulf Coast and a semifinalist for the 2012 James Beard Awards Best Chef South.
La Provence is a warm, welcoming Provençal auberge on picturesque grounds with extensive greenery, including several acres of kitchen garden. The fully renovated interior of the tile-roofed restaurant features gleaming hardwood floors, rustic stucco-work, and ceiling beams of distressed oak. It is filled with antiques from Provence, as well as photographs and paintings that contribute to the eclectic Provençal warmth of the atmosphere.
Luke New Orleans
Opened in 2007, Lüke New Orleans is Besh’s homage to the grand old Franco-German brasseries that he once reigned in New Orleans. Adjacent to the Hilton St. Charles in the heart of the Central Business District, Lüke offers warmth, comfort, great food and good cheer. The decor is nostalgic featuring blackboard specials, newspaper racks and vintage pulley-an-belt driven ceiling fan system. The menu combines the best of French, German and Creole Cuisines. Lüke offers an extensive French, German, and Belgian beer selection, including three exclusive house brews custom-made in Louisiana.
Luke San Antonio
Lüke San Antonio is situated on the city’s famed historic San Antonio River Walk and is Besh’s first restaurant outside of his home state of Louisiana. It features a menu of authentic Old World cuisine, combining classic German and French cooking techniques with a New Orleans touch.
Chef Steve McHugh is enthusiastic about sharing the fruits of his labor with an evolving menu of farm fresh ingredients and bistro specialties including house-made pâtés and abundant plateaux of cold, fresh seafood, as well as chef-inspired blackboard specials, perfectly enticing to the urban diner. To complement its cuisine, Lüke offers an extensive wine list and beer selection.
Award winning cookbook author, Besh has written two books, My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking in 2011 and My New Orleans: The Cookbook in 2009. He was co-author of New Orleans Program: Eat, Exercise, and Enjoy Life, 2006 with David Newsome. My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking was nominated for the General Cooking Cookbook category of the 2012 James Beard Awards and received an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Award in the Children, Youth and Family Category. In his cookbook, Besh invites us into his home and shows us how we can put good, fresh, healthy food on the table for our families every day. From organizing your kitchen and stocking your pantry to demystifying fish cookery, he shares his favorite recipes he cooks with his family every day.
My New Orleans: The Cookbook, is 16 chapters of culture, history, essay and insight, and pure goodness. Besh tells the story of his New Orleans by the season and by the dish. With over 200 New Orleans recipes, Besh spotlights New Orleans cooking like never before. It's the perfect blend of contemporary French techniques with indigenous Southern Louisiana products and know-how. From Mardi Gras, to the shrimp season, to the urban garden, to gumbo weather, boucherie (the season of the pig), and everything tasty in between.
John Besh Foundation 
The John Besh Foundation was established in 2011, providing scholarships, grants and loans to individuals in the New Orleans community with the passion, creativity and knowledge to enact change in New Orleans and Louisiana. The foundation was created in order to better serve his community by bringing a focus to his efforts in New Orleans. Through partnerships and donations, the Foundation promotes the preservation of the culinary history and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana through the cultivation of new talent and the support of local endeavors. It proposes to foster using the cross-cultural force of great food. Like food, which can represent sustenance and exuberance, relationship and new beginnings, the John Besh Foundation will build up communities and encourage new growth. It will celebrate New Orleans' past by building a lasting community - a culinary world - that can revel in what exists while sustainably cultivating further progress, talent, and opportunity.
Chefs Move! Scholarship
John Besh co-founded, Chefs Move! with Jessica Bride. It began with the belief that New Orleans has a vibrant food culture and industry and is the perfect place to offer opportunities to diversify kitchen leadership. Chefs Move! is a yearlong fully paid scholarship for a minority recipient from the New Orleans area to attend culinary school at The French Culinary Institute in New York City and to return to New Orleans after graduation. Chefs Move! has an advisory committee made up of local community activists and business leaders and is hosted by the John Besh Foundation. In its second year, the Chefs Move! Scholarship will be awarded to two recipients in the culinary arts and pastry arts categories.
Micro Loan Program
In 2011, John Besh set up a micro loan program to aid New Orleans farmers in rebuilding their businesses. Giving out low-interest loans ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 he continues to support and promote sustainable local farming and dining. The loans are available to farmers within a 200-mile radius of New Orleans—including portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Applications are reviewed by the Hope Credit Union, which evaluates them and sets up a repayment plan. The term of the loans can vary. As a guarantee for the loan, the foundation puts cash into a protected account tied to the specific loan. The program also matches those getting loans with students in the Tulane University MBA program to help them with business plans.
Television appearances 
- Chefs A' Field
- Iconoclasts - Episode 17, aired November 22, 2007
- Food Network Challenge - Judge
- Iron Chef America
- The Next Iron Chef - Runner-Up, Season 1
- Top Chef - New Orleans guest, season finale, Season 5
- Top Chef Masters - Contestant
- Treme (TV series) - self, Season 1, Episode 7 "Smoke My Peace Pipe"
- Inedible To Incredible - Host
- My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking, 2011, ISBN 978-1-4494-0787-2.
- My New Orleans: The Cookbook: 200 of My Favorite Recipes & Stories from My Hometown, 2009, ISBN 978-0-7407-8413-2.
- New Orleans Program: Eat, Exercise, and Enjoy Life, with David A., M.D. Newsome, 2006, ISBN 978-1-58980-344-2.
- Introduction to Military High Life. Elegant Food Histories and Recipes by Agostino Von Hassell, 2006, ISBN 978-1-931948-60-9.
- Forward to Trout Point Lodge Cookbook: Creole Cuisine from New Orleans to Nova Scotia, Random House, 2004
Chef Besh has contributed recipes or been featured in the following books:
- The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook by Mimi Luebbermann, Robert Holmes, and Dan Mills, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8118-5355-2.
- The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine by John D. Folse, 2004, p. 786, ISBN 978-0-9704457-1-1.
- The Pleasure of Your Company: Entertaining in High Style by Kimberly Schlegel, 2004, p. 122, ISBN 978-1-58685-314-3.
- Besh, John (2009). My New Orleans. New Orleans: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-7407-8413-2.
- Besh, John (2011). My Family Table, A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking. New Orleans: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-4494-0787-2.
- The Besh Family of Restaurants.
- My New Orleans Hardcover
- Besh, John (2011). My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking. New Orleans: Andrews McMeel. p. 364. ISBN 978-1-4494-0787-2.
- Thorn, Bret (2002). "John Besh: Switching gears from leading troops to leading cooks". Nation's Restaurant News.
- Culinary Institute of America: CIA Spotlight, John Besh.
- Severson, Kim. "John Besh". New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
- Best New Chefs - 1999 - John Besh.
- John Besh Celebrity-Parent Profile - Cookiemag.com
- 2006 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards
- Poris, Jim. "Food Arts". Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- Waren, Wendy (August 5, 2008). "LRA Names John Besh Restaurateur of the Year". Louisiana Restaurant Association. 1 1 (1): 1. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "New York Food Journal Review of Restaurant August and Lüke".
- "More Besh for the Big Easy". Zagat.com. September 29, 2009.
- Open Table’s Diner’s Choice Top 100 Restaurants in 2011
- Food& Wine People’s Best New Chef Central in 2012.
- Episode IA0301, Batali vs. Besh, 'Battle Andouille'.