Executive Chef/GM James Stephenson
James Stephenson, a Pennsylvania native, began his restaurant experience at the early age of 14. His fist job was as a dishwasher in a small Italian restaurant in the outskirts of center city Philadelphia. As James moved from one restaurant to the next, he developed his interest and respect for the culinary arts. James became a self-taught chef who fine-tuned his skills and mastered different techniques by moving around the United States gaining experience.
Chef Stephenson moved to Miami at 21 and was hired on as Chef De Cuisine by Miami’s celebrity chef Mark Milletello. He worked by Milletello’s side for 3 years, and was voted one of the best young chefs under 30. This led to an invitation to the James Beard House in December of 1999. James’ favorite aspect of being a chef is being able to experiment with the freshest and newest ingredients possible, allowing him to constantly learn and grow as a chef. He decided to relocate to San Diego, where not only would he be introduced to new ingredients, but he would also be living in beautiful southern California weather.
James sought out the Cohn Restaurant Group and has worked with them for the past 10 years. James is currently the Managing Partner and Executive Chef of the Cohn’s unique culinary ventures The Gaslamp Strip Club – A Steak Place and La Jolla Strip Club. These grill-your-own steak and cocktail lounges have been awarded the Gold Medallion Award for the 2011 Best Casual Steakhouse, as well as 2008Favorite Restaurant by the Gaslamp Quarter Association. James also gives cooking classes to the public, mentors local San Diego High School students, and when asked what he would like to do in the future, James replied, “Well, retire, of course. But I would love to continue giving cooking lessons.” Chef Stephenson feels very fortunate to be given the opportunity to create a great restaurant concept with such a respectable company.