Saturday, March 9th at the Grand Tasting & Auction
Chef Jeff Tunks is one of the best and brightest in the ever-growing constellation of great American chefs. There are few who possess as much confidence, extended experience, business acumen, and as deep a passion for simply prepared seasonal foods. Underneath a six-foot-three exterior in chef whites is a man with the soul of an artist, the passion of a perfectionist, and an unquestionable devotion to running a top-notch kitchen.
Like many in his field, Tunks attended the Culinary Institute of America; unlike many, however, Tunks received the prestigious Frances L. Roth Award for outstanding performance. From there, he served an externship under Dean Ferring at the Veranda Club in Atlanta, transferring with him to the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, where Tunks worked at Mistral, a sister restaurant on the complex. There he met his mentor, the classically French-trained chef Takashi Shirmaizu. It was under Shirmaizu’s tutelage that Tunks was introduced to the idea that at the foundation of every great dish must be superior ingredients and solid cooking techniques. Additionally, Shirmaizu’s Eastern influence on Western cuisine became the base for Tunks’ cooking.
Tunks first landed in the nation’s capital in 1987, having been recruited as opening executive chef at the popular River Club Restaurant in Georgetown, where he experimented with varied dishes of the Mid-Atlantic region. In 1991 he ventured west to the luxury seaside resort Loew’s Coronado Bay, where he used the riches of the Pacific to his advantage at the award-winning Azzura Point. Tunks’ next challenge was yet again coastal, this time the Gulf coast. At The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, Tunks secured a “Best Restaurant” rating from Gourmet in 1997 and he earned five Mobil stars for the Grill Room, the highest marks bestowed by the association. The Grill Room was the only new culinary establishment that year to be so honored.