At 43 years old, Jason Knibb has spent the last 10 years as Executive Chef at NINE-TEN Restaurant. With so many other chefs racing from kitchen to kitchen, he is an anomaly, crediting the longevity of his position to a combination of “working with good people and being allowed the creative freedom to lead the ship”.
Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Jason came to the United States when he was nine years old and grew up in the Los Angeles area. He didn’t attend culinary school, but instead put in his time rising through the ranks and learning his craft in the kitchens of some of the most celebrated chefs in the country. He discovered a love of cooking, almost by accident, when he was a 17 year old busboy at a local restaurant. “The kitchen was short staffed one night,” he remembers. “They asked me to fill in, and suddenly, it all felt really natural and I knew that this was something I could and wanted to do.” The real eye opener came when he had the opportunity to train under Wolfgang Puck at Eureka Restaurant in Los Angeles when he was in his early 20s. “It was just so inspiring to experience the passion the other cooks brought to the process.”
After leaving Eureka, Jason assisted famed Roy Yamaguchi with the opening of Roy’s Kahana Bar & Grill in Maui. After returning to Southern California, he accepted the position of Chef Tournant under Hans Rockenwagner at Rockenwagner’s in Santa Monica and the popular Rox restaurant in Beverly Hills. Venturing north, Knibb took over as Sous Chef at the San Francisco eatery, Moose’s Café. He left San Francisco to oversee the opening of Malibu in Warsaw, Poland, where he trained the restaurant’s kitchen staff and created its California Cuisine menus. Jason returned to the U.S. in 1996 to become Sous Chef at Joe’s Restaurant in Venice, California. Following a successful two-year endeavor at Joe’s, he landed in Sundance, Utah where he worked for La Jolla’s own Trey Foshee at the famed Tree Room, taking over the position of Executive Chef after Trey’s departure. To this day, Jason cites Trey as having the biggest influence on his cooking style.
“Each of my mentors has a simple common philosophy about cooking, which translates into my style today,” he says. “We each create regional cuisine using the freshest, local products available. I find the most culinary pleasure in blending an eclectic mix of classic techniques with modern styles inspired by the ethnic diversities of San Diego. I couple that with my own vision of new American cuisine by taking traditional dishes and giving them a simple, elegant twist.”
A recognized name in culinary circles across the country and universally acknowledged to be among the top chefs in Southern California for his consistently exquisite food and artistic presentations, Jason has amassed many awards and accolades for his style and cuisine. Most notably: Zagat Survey® Food Score of 26 (extraordinary to perfection); Gayot’s Top 10 Molecular Restaurants in the U.S.; 2012 Zagat Top 10 Restaurants in San Diego; and a 2010 Rising Star Chef Winner/StarChefs (one of only 2 chefs in San Diego to be recognized for this coveted honor), to name just a few. He has also been featured in Food & Wine magazine, Sunset magazine and Jamaican Airlines Magazine’s in-flight publication, Sky Magazine and has frequently appeared as a guest chef at the James Beard House, as well as The Food Network’s “Cooking Live with Sara Moulton” and a featured chef on Bobby Flay’s “Food Nation – Best of Utah” program.
Most recently, in November of 2011, Jason was a contender on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, battling Bobby Flay in a seafood/caviar showdown. This showing was the first time a San Diego chef had been invited to compete on Iron Chef, marking yet another significant milestone in his culinary career.
Rachel King joined the pastry kitchen at NINE-TEN in July of 2013. As Pastry Chef, she has complete operational and directional responsibilities for the pastry kitchen to include infusing the lunch and dinner menus with a variety of desserts ranging from seasonal offerings using products from local artisan providers to house-made cheeses and sorbets.
Rachel was formerly with Enlightened Hospitality Restaurants, where she served as Executive Pastry Chef for a group of restaurants to include Searsucker, Burlap, Gingham, Gabardine, Green Acre and Herringbone. She also partnered with Chef and Owner, Brian Malarkey, to create a production kitchen named BaKING Co. for which she provided desserts for many local restaurants.
A San Diego native, she began working at Bread & Cie Café while attending the San Diego Culinary Institute. Following graduation in 2008, Rachel began her culinary career as a Pastry Cook at Bertrand at Mr. A’s in San Diego. From there she moved on to work and train in some of San Diego’s top kitchens including Crescent Heights Kitchen & Lounge and NINE-TEN, where she worked for a short period until 2010. She also served as pastry chef at Blueprint Café, before coming to open Searsucker with Brian Malarkey.
No stranger to the media, Rachel’s dessert creations have been noted in such publications such as 944 magazine, Forbes.com, Pacific Magazine, San Diego Magazine, Riviera Magazine, People.com, Discoversd.com, Grubstreet.com and the San Diego Union Tribune. She was named one of San Diego’s top “Sugar Queens” by Keli Dailey in the San Diego Reader. Most recently, she was nominated for one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Pastry Chefs of 2013”.
Although having spent more than two years working in the NINE-TEN kitchen from 2006 to 2008, 31-year-old Ramon Bojorquez, has served as the restaurant’s sous chef since October of 2010.
Professionally trained in the Le Cordon Bleu program at the Scottsdale Culinary School, Ramon’s first stop following graduation in 2003 was at the Four Diamond Arizona Inn in Tucson. Throughout his culinary career, he made stops at La Jolla’s Marine Room, San Diego’s Urban Solace and The Bazaar and Bastide, in Los Angeles and Hollywood respectively. He further developed his palate and technique while staging under Chef Martín Berasategui, the Basque chef and owner of the eponymous Martín Berasategui restaurant, a 3-Star Michelin restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, Spain.
Ramon discovered his love for food and cooking at a very young age. Born of Mexican descent in Tucson and raised in Rio Rico, Arizona, a small town bordering Nogales, Mexico, he grew up in the kitchen, watching his grandfather cook. It is from this experience that he carries a considerable amount of Mexican, Spanish and even Thai influence in his cuisine.
Ramon has traveled the world, from serving as a stage in Europe to fighting Muy Thai professionally in Thailand. He loves bold and spicy flavors that are simple, yet powerful. “The combination of peppers, cilantro and lime can be used in almost any dish, he says. “Above all, using fresh, seasonal products stands as the cornerstone of my cooking and working at NINE-TEN certainly showcases that passion by making ample use of the seasonal produce available right here in San Diego.”
Marking yet another chapter of his culinary history, Ramon was also featured as a Cheftestant on Season 11 of Bravo Media’s Emmy and James Beard Award-winning television series, “Top Chef”, which took place in New Orleans in the Fall of 2013.