A California native, Jeff grew up watching his mother cook. At 12 years old, he knew he wanted to be a cook and became his mom’s “sous chef” in their Orange County home. During high school, Banker worked at various restaurants, informing his understanding of and passion for the restaurant industry and cooking.
After graduating from Cal Polytechnic State University with a focus on hotel and restaurant management, Jeff began cooking professionally in 1994 at Pascal in Newport Beach, Calif., and later Patina in Los Angeles. Like many chefs, Banker then spent time traveling to gain culinary experience. He moved to Venezuela during his early 20s, and when he returned to the States (San Francisco, to be exact) at 23 years of age, it was with a newfound appreciation for fresh ingredients.
Upon moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, Jeff proceeded to hone his culinary skills at notable restaurants including Postrio, Bix, and Acme Chophouse, and spent over three years as Executive Chef at Home Restaurant. In between, Banker decided to retrain his skills by studying at at Le Cordon Bleu, as wellas staging at Lucas Carton in Paris.
Banker fulfilled his dream of owning a restaurant and opened the popular and highly celebrated San Francisco restaurant Baker & Banker in late 2009, with his wife Lori Baker. Jeff and Lori shared a common subtle complexity in their cooking, elevated by attention to detail and technique. After running the restaurant for over five years and within that time having two children, they made the decision to close the restaurant to focus more energy on their family.
In mid-2015, Banker joined the Bluestem Brasserie team as Executive Chef. Thrilled to return to the kitchen, Banker oversees the seasonally evolving menu and whole-animal butchery practices at the urban neighborhood restaurant. At Bluestem, he works with an abundance of fresh, local ingredients and produce from highly-regarded purveyors. As a strong culinary partner, Banker plans to also work with Bluestem owners, Adam and Stacy Jed, on future restaurant projects.
Banker resides in the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. When outside the kitchen, Jeff can be found spending time with his wife and two children and shopping at his favorite markets, including CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Stonestown Market and the Marin Farmers Market.
We met at BLUESTEM for our Foodie Chap chat. It’s a happening spot I highly recommend for lunch or dinner and happy hour too. So many things to enjoy but top of my eat list: Hand pulled Duck Confit Salad – all kinds of tasty.
Enjoy my tasty talk with Chef Jeff about his extensive culinary journey, Disney days, Michelin stars and more.
Beet Cured Salmon Tartare
with Beets, Dill Pickles, and Horseradish Crème Fraîche
Makes 6 servings
Beet Cured Salmon
- 3 large red beets- peeled and diced
- 1 cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- Zest from 2 lemons
- 6 juniper berries
- 1 bunch dill- pick leaves and chop fine
- 1 bunch tarragon- pick leaves and chop fine
- ¼ cup gin
- 1 2lb. piece of king salmon
Roasted Baby Beets
- 10 baby red beets
- ¼c. extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup water
Horseradish Crème Fraîche
- 1cup crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1 shallot minced
- ¼ cup lemon olive oil
- 2 tbsp. chopped dill
- Dill pickles- sliced thin
Pulse beets, lemon zest, and juniper berries in a food processor until chopped fine. Mix in salt, sugar, and chopped herbs.
Place the salmon skin side down in a large dish with high sides. Put the cure on top of the salmon, sprinkle with the gin and cover the salmon with plastic wrap. Place a plate on top of the salmon to weigh down slightly. Let cure for two days. After two days rinse off the cure and dry well. Remove the skin and dice the salmon into small pieces. Reserve the salmon for later use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the baby beets in a casserole dish with olive oil, water and salt. Cover the dish with foil and roast for 30 minutes or until the beets are tender. Cool and peel the beets. Cut into slices and reserve for later use.
Mix the crème fraîche with the horseradish, lemon zest and salt. Set aside for later use.
When ready to plate mix the tartare with lemon oil, lemon zest, diced shallots, chopped dill, and salt. Serve with the sliced baby beets, dill pickles, horseradish crème fraîche and crostini.
For more information: