This week, Jack Fisher was let go as chef de cuisine of Sea 180 in Imperial Beach. Now he’s landed as the second-in-command at the newly remodeled Jsix alongside one of the city’s top chefs, Christian Graves. It’s a hell of a team.
“I’m incredibly, incredibly stoked,” says Fisher.
When the Cohn Restaurant Group hired Fisher for Sea 180 late last year, it was a head scratcher. Fisher was an award-winning pastry chef. So why’d they hire him to handle seafood, pasta—savory? A deeper look revealed that Fisher was no stranger to sea bass or buerre blanc. Before making his name as a dessert guy, he worked for 10 years on the line. He created savory dishes at Nine-Ten and Cucina Urbana.
The bigger question was: Why would the city’s top pastry chef ditch his trade?
Because the pastry chef is dead.
“It used to be the bigger hotels, they’d have a pastry chef to do banquets and brunches,” he says. “Even those kinds of pastry chefs are being phased out.”
Like sommeliers before them, very few restaurants can afford to employ these highly trained specialists. In the post-2008 dining world, you have to be able to perfectly sear a scallop and make a mean molten chocolate cake. You have to do it all.
“I tapped out as a pastry chef,” says Fisher. “I was basically at the same salary for 10 years. I wanted to prove to myself to be more well-rounded. The problem was also that the quality of pastry chefs wasn’t there. Restaurateurs would take big gambles on hiring top pastry chefs, and they couldn’t deliver. It’s hard to find good pastry chefs who are willing to chop garlic.”
Fisher’s stint at Sea 180 only lasted a few months. No matter. He doesn’t seem to view the Jsix job as a demotion (he’s technically a sous chef). Maybe training with Graves will give him the skills he needs to run his own kitchen. In return, Fisher will no doubt make Jsix’s dessert menu one of the city’s best.
“I’ve wanted to work with Christian for years,” says Fisher. “He never strays from his values. He came from Farrallon in San Francisco. That’s a pretty frickin’ big deal. I don’t think enough people recognize just how great a chef he is.”