“The answer is either yes or no. If it’s ‘no,’ then I have to start over.” – Joshua Skenes
Joshua Skenes (IG: @jskenes) has become famous for his use of fire.
As chef-owner of Saison in San Francisco (three Michelin stars), he has classical training and loves his high-end Japanese Nenohi knives, but nothing captures his imagination quite like the open flame. The back of his business card sports three words, stark on ivory stock:
Play with fire.
In this episode, we explore his obsessions: simplicity, food, and martial arts.
We became friends during the collaboration of The 4-Hour Chef, and this was a long overdue catch-up. Enjoy!
If you only have five minutes, listen to how he dealt with a last-minute catastrophe involving a sewage water flood.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast where I discuss food with a world-class chef? — Listen to my conversation with Andrew Zimmern. In this episode, we discuss his meditation practice, morning routines, and creative process (stream below or right-click here to download):
This episode is brought to you by Headspace, the world’s most popular meditation app (more than 4,000,000 users). It’s used in more than 150 countries, and many of my closest friends swear by it. Try Headspace’s free Take10 program — 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days. It’s like a warm bath for your mind. Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. Try Headspace for free for a few days and see what I mean.
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What questions about food or nutrition would you like me to cover in future podcast episodes or blog posts? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Check out Nenohi Knives
- Learn more about Tang Soo Do and Baguazhang
- Watch Meat Eater with Steve Rinella
- Learn more about Kam Lee
- Watch Chef’s Table (Francis Mallmann Trailer)
- Seven Fires by Francis Mallmann
- The Mission Chinese Food by Danny Bowien and Chris Ying
- Escape to River Cottage
- Cocktail Techniques by Kazuo Uyeda
- 12 Gems of the Pacific Northwest Coast
- Learn more about Cliff Hodges and survival skills
- 9 Tricks for Getting a VIP Table
- Connect with Joshua Skenes:
- What does the back of your business card currently say? [5:08]
- Earliest memories of martial arts combined with cooking [6:22]
- How do you use fire and why do you use it? [9:15]
- Defining freshness in food [10:57]
- On hunting, becoming a vegan, and returning to meat [13:05]
- On studying bagua [18:19]
- The impact of martial arts on Joshua Skenes’s cooking [22:53]
- On reducing and simplifying [25:29]
- What do you say to yourself when you get good or bad reviews? [29:08]
- Describing the most exciting developments in cooking now [31:00]
- Joshua Skenes’s biggest influences or mentors [33:46]
- Starting Saison, the toughest times and catastrophe management [37:07]
- Training and prep-talk for new members of the Saison staff [45:30]
- The subway story [49:03]
- Thoughts on Francis Mallmann and Chef’s Table [50:05]
- Most gifted books [53:50]
- When you think of the word ‘successful,’ who is the first person who comes to mind and why? [56:18]
- What is the most joy that you’ve felt in recent memory [57:35]
- If you could pick anywhere outside the US to immerse yourself in the woods, where would you pick? [58:50]
- Morning rituals [1:04:35]
- Discussing the value of martial arts and becoming an immovable mountain [1:05:57]
- Advice to your thirty-year-old self [1:17:20]
- Where would you like to have food that you have not yet had food? [1:22:00]
- Why the 80’s? You’re always playing 80’s music [1:28:31]