Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jennifer Biesty took her first job as a bus girl in a neighborhood restaurant. After a short time, she showed interest in cooking, and the chefs took her under their wings. They saw her passion and encouraged her to apply to the Culinary Institute of America. Jennifer was accepted, and by the time she enrolled, she had been trained how to grill, sauté, braise, and butcher. At the age of eighteen, she was one of the youngest students at the CIA. To fulfill the requirements for graduation, Jennifer completed a six-month internship at the Sazerac in New Orleans’s Fairmont Hotel. New Orleans provided valuable career motivation as well as the inevitable “life lessons” of living in the Big Easy.
Ready for her first out-of-school challenge, Jennifer secured a Chef de Partie position at New York City’s Aquavit restaurant, worked with Chef Marcus Samuelson. Aquavit’s kitchen was a fast- paced, intense operation with no room for mistakes. Within a year, she was offered the Sous Chef position at Charlotte restaurant NYC, under Chef Pat Williams. She learned to work with countless unique spices and exotic grains. This broadened Jennifer’s palate, and encourages her to leave the Big Apple to go to San Francisco, the West Coast’s Food Mecca.
In 1994, Jennifer started as a Chef de Partie at Bizou restaurant and developed a close working relationship with Loretta Keller, Bizou’s Executive Chef and partner. After a short time she was promoted to Sous Chef. During Jennifer’s reign as Sous Chef, the restaurant received three-and-a-half stars from Michael Bauer, restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Jennifer had the opportunity to travel with Loretta to participate in benefit dinners at The James Beard House, The Masters of Food and Wine, Taste of the Nation, and the Green Belt Alliance. These events strengthened her bond with San Francisco’s food community.
In 1997, Jennifer went to London to take a Chef de Partie position under chefs Ruth Rodgers, Rose Gray, and Jamie Oliver at The River Café. At the River Café she learned techniques to create artisan and rustic Italian cuisine, and worked with the best products available. That year, Jennifer traveled extensively, visiting different cultures and studying haute cuisine around Europe.
Returning to San Francisco in 1998, Jennifer went to work for Chef Traci des Jardins at Jardinière. After a brief stint with Traci, Loretta Keller approached Jennifer with the opportunity to return to Bizou as Chef de Cuisine with creative control over the menu and kitchen staff’s hiring and training. She stayed at Bizou for two more years and was granted two and a half stars by Bauer. Shortly after the review Jennifer was approached by Gail De Ferrari, owner of Universal Café, to be the chef, where she again received two and half stars from Bauer.
Loretta Keller called Jennifer back to Bizou restaurant, which they closed for three months and reopened as Coco500 in the summer of 2005. The chefs gutted the entire space and brought in SMWM architects to create a completely new, hip restaurant with an organic bar and ever changing California-Mediterranean menu. This experience gave Jennifer the opportunity to be an intragal part in the build-out of a new restaurant from the ground up. The immediately successful restaurant received three stars from Bauer. In 2007 Jennifer won the Rising Star Chef award from StarChefs.com, and appeared on The Today Show on NBC. Jennifer is currently the proud chef of Coco500, and looks forward to one day opening her own restaurant.