Jeremiah Tower

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Jeremiah Tower
Born 1942 (1942)
Stamford, CT
Education Riverview/St. Ignatius (Sydney, Australia); Parkside School, Surrey (England); Loomis School, Connecticut; Harvard College, BA; MA, architecture, Harvard School of Design.
Culinary career
Cooking style California Cuisine

Jeremiah Tower (born 1942) is an American celebrity chef who is generally credited with developing the culinary style known as California cuisine.[citation needed]

Life and career[edit]

Tower was born in Stamford, Connecticut, son of a managing director of an international film sound equipment company. He was educated at Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview (Sydney, Australia), Parkside School, Surrey (England), Loomis Chaffee, Connecticut, Harvard University, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. A food lover, he had no formal culinary education before beginning his career as a chef. After earning a Masters Degree in Architecture from Harvard University, he had intended to pursue design of underwater structures in Hawaii, because of his obsession with finding the lost city of Atlantis. After his grandfather died, Tower, who was used to being taken care of and supported, found himself out of money and in need of a job. Inspired by a berry tart he had eaten at the then-unknown Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, he applied for a job there in 1972. Alice Waters and her partners hired him for his skills and his brazen confidence when it came to recreating great French traditional food. Within a year he became equal partners with Waters and the others and was in full charge of the kitchen, the writing of the menus, and the promotion of the restaurant.[1]

Tower left Chez Panisse in 1978, after philiosophical and business disagreements with the majority of the Board and with Waters in particular (she and they rejecting his idea to open a Panisse Cafe), and worked at the Ventana Inn at Big Sur beginning 1978, taught briefly at the California Culinary Academy, revived the dying Balboa Cafe in San Francisco in 1981, then in 1982 became head chef and co-owner at Berkeley's Santa Fe Bar and Grill (a restaurant that was later a springboard for fellow Chez Panisse alum, Mark Miller, to open the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico and a string of Southwestern-themed restaurants throughout the United States).

In 1984, Tower opened his own restaurant, Stars, in San Francisco, in partnership with the Sante Fe Bar and Grill investors. It was an overnight sensation. Numerous American chefs worked at Stars, among them Mark Franz (of Farallon), Mario Batali, Loretta Keller (of Bizou / Coco500), Joey Altman (Bay Cafe / Wild Hare), Michael Shrader (N9NE), Brendan Walsh (Arizona 206, Elms Inn), Chris Colburn (The Chanticleer), and Ron Garrido (Avalon in Eureka), as well as pastry chefs Tim Grable, Emily Luchetti, Hollyce Snyder and Jerry Traunfeld. The restaurant was among the top-grossing restaurants in the United States for close to a decade. Tower opened branches of Stars restaurant in Oakville (Napa Valley), Palo Alto, Manila, and Singapore. He owned and opened the famously successful Peak Cafe in Hong Kong in the 1990s, as well as various related ventures in San Francisco including a more casual cafe, an upscale bistro, and a kitchenware shop. As his fame grew he licensed his name out, and began to earn celebrity endorsement contracts, including one for Dewar's Scotch. After the earthquake of October 1989, and the closing of the Civic Center where it was located for 2 years - and Stars extra 200 customers per day from the govt offices and courts, Ballet, Opera, symphony all relocated - Tower sold the flagship and its group to a Singapore real estate company.[2] Tower sold the Stars group in June 1998 and moved to Manila to open another Stars (after Singapore), after declaring he was done with California,[1] The new owners closed the Stars restaurants after 2 years of operating them. After a year in Manila he moved to New York City for 4 years, after which he moved to Italy and Mexico, where he lives as of 2010 and devotes his time to restoring old colonial houses, SCUBA diving, travel writing,[3] writing a novel, and looking for unoxidized champagne. In 2014, he was hired as executive chef of Tavern on the Green in New York City, and left in April 2015 when the owners decided to cut operations.As well as two books written in 2016, Tower showed his CNN documentary at the Blenheim Palace (UK) film and literary festival, and was the key speaker at the Ken Hom lecture series at Oxford University Brookes.

Publications and awards[edit]

Tower's first book, New American Classics, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 1986 for "Best American Regional Cookbook." He has published several other successful cookbooks. His 2003 memoir, What I Saw (and Cooked) at the American Culinary Revolution, is a colorful account of his side of the story surrounding the invention of California and New American cuisine. In 2016 the CNN original The Last Magnificent by Anthony Bourdain and Zero Point Zero productions premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. It also screened at the 2016 Blenheim Palace film and literary festival, at the Oxford Brookes University festival and at the Ken Hom lecture series. The 100-minute film was bought by The Orchard for distribution in 15 major theater markets in the spring of 2017, then sold to CNN fr general release as well as to Netflix. Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother was published in 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In 2017 a new edition of California Dish (Grubb Street’s 2014 “Great Books: The Top 25 Must-Read Food Memoirs of All Time,” included with Julia Child, A.J. Liebling, and M.F.K. Fisher) will be republished as Start the Fire by Harper Collins. And in 2017 a new book,The Flavors of Taste, with photographs by New Orleans photographer Sam Hanna.

In 1996, Tower won the Foundation's Award for "Chef of the Year."


  • Jeremiah Tower's New American Classics by Jeremiah Tower (published 1986),James Beard award winner cookbook of the year 1986
  • Jeremiah Tower Cooks : 250 Recipes from an American Master Stewart Tabri & Chang, by Jeremiah Tower (published 2002)
  • The Great Book of French Cuisine: Revised Edition by Henri-Paul Pellaprat and Jeremiah Tower (published 2003)
  • America's Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower by Jeremiah Tower (published 2003)
  • The Arrows Cookbook : Cooking and Gardening from Maine's Most Beautiful Farmhouse Restaurant by Clark Frasier, Mark Gaier, with Max Alexander. Foreword by Jeremiah Tower (published 2003)
  • Stalking the Green Fairy : And Other Fantastic Adventures in Food and Drink by James Villas and Jeremiah Tower (published 2004)
  • California Dish : What I Saw (and Cooked) at the American Culinary Revolution by Jeremiah Tower (published 2004)
  • Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother: by Jeremiah Tower, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2016
  • Start the Fire, by Jeremiah Tower, Harper Collins 2017
  • Flavors of Taste, by Jeremiah Tower and Kit Wohl, 2017


  1. ^ a b Kim Severson (September 29, 1999). "The rise and fall of a star: How the king of California Cuisine lost an empire". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  2. ^ "Jeremiah Tower Sells Part Stake in Stars". San Francisco Chronicle. June 11, 1998. 
  3. ^ Paolo Lucchesi (2010-05-04). "Behind the Scenes at the James Beard Awards". San Francisco Chronicle.