Chef John Cox’s passion for food and restaurants began as a teenager when he would save money from his paper route and take a bus into Santa Fe to dine at one of the many restaurants he had highlighted in the local dining guide. By 18, he was enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.
Upon graduating from culinary school, John moved to Big Sur, California to work with Craig Von Foerster at Post Ranch Inn where he worked his way through the ranks from culinary intern to Chef de Cuisine. As Executive Chef from 2012-2016, he developed a personal style that showcased the Big Sur Coast, drawing heavily on indigenous ingredients and reflecting his passion for micro-regional cooking, featuring dishes with toasted acorn flour, dried native grasses, black ants, sea cucumbers and even live jellyfish. Sought after as a corporate chef, John has worked with Noble House Hotels across the nation; the Georis Restaurant Group in Carmel; and Passport Resorts, the parent company of Sierra Mar, overseeing the kitchens of the Hotel Hana Maui and Sea Ranch Lodge in Sonoma.
In 2017 he teamed with siblings Eli and Ashley Parker of the famed Fess Parker family in Santa Barbara County to open The Bear and Star, a concept of “refined ranch cuisine” inspired by Texan family recipes and a California sensibility. Cox and the Parkers combined resources to realize their dream of creating a true ecosystem on the 710 acre family ranch designed to supply the restaurant. Shepherded by John’s passion and vision, the ranch and its ecosystem is exceeding expectations of sustaining the restaurant with responsibly raised Wagyu beef, pork, rabbits, quail, chicken, bees and organically grown vegetables, herbs and fruits. Integral to preparing the menu is John’s creation and design – a 30′ custom reverse-flow Texas smoker housed on the property, the source for slow smoking and barbecuing many of the dishes.
John has participated in multiple epicurean events, including the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, Taste of Yosemite, Slow Food Nation in Denver, Eggfest and the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. He is also a regular contributor to culinary projects with the Big Green Egg and Edible magazines. In 2016 John and The Bear and Star team won coveted awards at the San Angelo Champion Cook-Off for their Texan/California spin on barbecued chicken and brisket. He is an avid forager, writer and photographer, documenting his environment as well as his cooking. John’s work has been favorably reviewed in multiple publications that include San Francisco Chronicle and Food & Wine magazine.