Born in Los Angeles, where the food is as diverse as the city’s culture, Jeff Osaka has always been fascinated by the restaurant industry. Although he didn’t step behind his first professional stove until the age of 28, Jeff has cooked alongside some of the best chefs in the nation – and garnered praise from critics and peers alike for his own contributions to the culinary world.
In the spring of 1992, Jeff embarked on his first full-time chef position at Tarpy’s Roadhouse in Monterey, California. Two years later, Jeff’s professional adventure continued in San Francisco, where he worked with chef Bradley Ogden at One Market. In this ambitious kitchen, Jeff was ingrained with Ogden’s “market-to-table” training: the concept of combining simple techniques with the freshest ingredients. A year into his tenure at One Market, Jeff was promoted to sous-chef, a noteworthy achievement for someone so new to the trade.
With a desire to expand his culinary palate, Jeff ventured into the world of French cuisine. In 1997, he worked as sous-chef for chef Gerald Hirigoyen at Pastis before returning to Los Angeles and assuming the sous-chef position at Pinto Bistro, in Studio City, where he joined chefs Joachim Splichal and Octavio Beccera.
Genius restaurateur and chef Wolfgang Puck soon noticed Jeff’s confidence and commitment, and in early 1998, Jeff became sous-chef at Puck’s Chinois Las Vegas, broadening his cooking repertoire to deftly implement Puck’s concept of marrying Asian food with French influences. While at Chinois, Jeff cultivated a friendship with wine director Ken Fredrickson M.S., and within a year, the two focused their talents and energy on Jackson Hole, Wyoming, opening Restaurant Terroir in late 1998 and following that up with Asian-influenced Koshu in 2000.
In the spring of 2001, Jeff again returned to Los Angeles to work with friends at the Venice-based restaurants 5 Dudley and Joe’s. Soon after, Jeff partnered in his own venture as chef/owner of the critically acclaimed Playa del Rey bistro, Chloe.
Jeff has also worked as a private chef/consultant, cooking and catering for some of the most notable names in Hollywood while practicing a wide variety of cuisines in many renowned California kitchens, including Fringale (San Francisco), two-star Michelin rated Melisse (Santa Monica), Piccolo (Venice), and Wilson and Beacon (Culver City.)
In November of 2008, Jeff was thrilled to bring his experience and passion to Denver, Colorado, where he opened twelve, a restaurant strongly inspired by the changing seasons. In fact, twelve’s entire menu changed every month, and while twelve closed in August of 2014, Jeff featured more than seventy different menus and 1,000 different dishes during the restaurant’s highly successful six-year reign. Heralded by food cognoscenti across the country, twelve -- and Jeff – rocketed to stardom this year, when Jeff received a 2014 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest semifinalist nomination.
In winter of 2014, Jeff will open OSAKA RAMEN, a Japanese noodle shop at 2611 Walnut Street, also in Denver.