CULINARY SCHOOL AFFILIATION: Johnson & Wales University, North Miami, FL
Chef Joseph Keefer was born in the small town of Spring Hill Florida, which is where he discovered his love for cooking in a home economics class. He went to Nature Coast Technical High School and studied Culinary Arts under Chef Peter Diulio. The next decision was an obvious and that was to further his culinary education at the post-secondary level.
Chef Keefer enrolled in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University’s Miami campus where he spent four years trying new foods, competing in cooking challenges that gave him a creative outlet to hone skills and technique, interning in Germany where he was introduced to foraging and preservation, and minoring in Baking and Pastry and Beverage Arts.
After his culinary school education at JWU, Chef Keefer packed up his belongings with his friends and moved to Seattle, Washington. He found work at a restaurant run by Chef William Belickis called Mistral Kitchen that was fresh, innovative and relatable, which offered tasting menus, a la carte, crudos, purees! It was not long before a new job opportunity opened up at Canlis, considered by many to be the best restaurant in Seattle. The job was for a chocolatier, which allowed Chef Keefer to refine his love of working with chocolate. While at Canlis, he worked his way around the kitchen learning about private dining, tasting menus, and Japanese and American fine dining, laying the foundation and groundwork for the type of cook Chef Keefer would become.
After Seattle, Joseph travelled to New York City to work for Chef Damon Wise, who was at one time Tom Colicchio’s corporate executive chef. The restaurant was a French Bistro, which is where he learned about the classical bistro dishes that highlighted a balance between French and American cooking. However, Chef Keefer left the property when the opportunity to be on the opening staff of L’atelier de Joel Robuchon arose. The restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin Stars the next year. Under Robuchon, Mr. Keefer learned about French techniques and the quality of one’s ingredients. While in New York City, Chef Keefer made it a point to eat his way around Brooklyn, Chinatown, Korea Town, Little Italy and Long Island.
After a quick year back in Florida to apprentice as meat cutter, Chef Keefer moved to Christiansburg, Virginia, which is where Virginia Tech is located, and currently works at a local restaurant that focuses on Appalachian Cuisine and Culture. When he is not working, Joseph can be found baking sourdough, fermenting vegetables, or tending to his garden. Future plans include hosting pop-up dinners using the local food products of the area, finishing the book he always wanted to write, and to begin a social media channel for food lovers.
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Culinary School Stories is a weekly podcast with engaging interviews that shares the stories of people from around the world that have an association with a culinary school in some way. Each episode we bring you the best stories from people around the food service world whose lives have been influenced, impacted, touched and/or enriched, for good or for bad, from their culinary school experience. And this Podcast is dedicated to telling their story!
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MUSIC: “Family Montage” by Biz Baz Studio, YouTube Audio Library
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