With 20 years under his apron, Geoffrey Reed owes much of his culinary awareness to the ocean and mountains that surrounded him as a native of McKinleyville, California. It began early on in his parent’s garden, fishing in the creek behind the house and having full reign to play in the kitchen. Geoff got his first taste of the culinary life at 12, helping with chocolate dipped strawberries and washing dishes on Valentine’s Day at a restaurant where his older brother worked. That adventure turned into 6 years of working his way through every position in the kitchen.
After moving to Arizona in 2002 to attend the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Geoff began working at Mary Elaine’s with Bradford Thompson and later on Nobuo Fukuda of Sea Saw, both James Beard Award winning chefs. A fascination with Japanese food and culture led to a thriving experience in the 26 seat omakase restaurant where he cooked for 6 years. He later on worked side by side with Nobuo on R&D trips to Japan, New York and LA to build relations with fish vendors and participate in James Beard dining events with the Japanese Culinary and Cultural Awareness Association.
Now in San Francisco, Geoff has worked numerous restaurant openings including Pläj with Executive Chef Roberth Sundell, rated among the top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area by SF Chronicle. He founded FishInKitchen, his own workshop classes where he brings people out on fishing trips and teaches how to clean and cook their own catches. Now with Feastly, he hosts his own series of omakase pop-ups which feature his one-of-a-kind recipes from the fresh seafood he catches and local foraged ingredients in the Bay Area.
1. What is food to you?
Food for me is about sharing a unique moment in time that stems from the concept “ichigo ichie”, which translates to “one time, one meeting”. We should cherish the ingredients in their seasonality, the people in their diversity, and the place in its nuances as they all come together to create a memory or moment that will never be replicated.
2. How and when did cooking come into your life?
Both my parents are wonderful cooks and I grew up with a large garden, which they always let me play and help in. German pancakes were a food that fascinated me, and I committed the ingredient ratios to memory at age 5. They puffed up differently every time which I found so interesting and exciting as a kid.
3. Who is your food role model?
Martin Yan was my jam on PBS as a kid. That man is crazy fast. My true mentor, however, is Nobuo Fukuda. He really nurtured the passion I’ve had for Japanese food, art, and culture.
4. What do you love about hosting with Feastly?
It’s a dinner party with like-minded strangers, it just makes sense! It weeds out the sort who have their assistant make a reservation to that place, “I-don’t-know-the-name-but-need-a-table-because-I-heard-you-can’t-get-a-table.”
5. What are you cooking goals/dreams right now? And in the long run?
I would love to have a space that is a mixture of a restaurant, cooking classes, art classes, and pop-up scene. Different nights would have a different focus. I love connecting with my guests and giving them a sense of ownership in the entire culinary experience–from the sourcing, preparation, eating, to the creative and artistic sides as well.
6. Favorite meal/feast you’re ever had?
I was able to attend a farewell dinner in Japan with a chef who was awarded one of the best restaurants in Japan. He closed his restaurant because he felt as if he had nothing to work towards. All tables were removed, and everyone sat on the floor to dine. He came around and served each person himself on his knees, in symbolism of humility and respect.
7. What’s your most memorable moment hosting strangers at a dinner party?
People are so fascinated with a blowtorch. Sometimes I even let people brulee their own creme.
8. What’s the one thing you always keep in your fridge?
I always have a batch of ponzu in the works.
9. What is the go-to dish you make for yourself when home alone?
Okonomiyaki is my comfort food of choice.
10. Weapon of Choice (in the kitchen):
My Yanagi knife.