Joshua Skenes, the chef behind Michelin-starred Saison and the Angler restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco, is launching an $800-per-person dinner series. But instead of hosting them at his three restaurants, the dinners will take place at his home in the Hollywood Hills.
He will serve eight guests a night on Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting Dec. 12. The menu will be around a dozen courses and Skenes plans to change it up daily or, he said, possibly by the hour.
“I need to get back in the kitchen and cook with my own hands,” he said on a recent afternoon at Angler, his seafood-focused restaurant at the Beverly Center. “At all my restaurants, the teams run the place. Any chef with multiple restaurants doesn’t do the cooking. That veil was lifted a long time ago.”
The chef says he plans to forage and fish for most if not all of the ingredients, with wild figs, mustard plants (he’s using the seeds to make his own mustard), roots, leaves and other produce found around Southern California.
(Neighbors with citrus trees will probably want to be on the lookout.)
The only way to score a seat is to request an invitation online at skenesplace.com. Skenes said he will “filter through it to some degree reasonably” to select the diners.
“If they seem normal, then they are invited,” he said.
The $800-per-person dinners will be all-inclusive. And Skenes is aware of the initial sticker shock.
“People love to throw darts at me about the price,” he said. “You get what you pay for. When you add everything up, it’s more or less the same price as going to Urasawa.”
An unspecified portion of the proceeds will benefit organizations tied to fire relief in California as well as ending childhood hunger, he said.
Skenes stepped away from his tasting-menu restaurant Saison in San Francisco’s SOMA district in 2017 to focus on other business ventures. He has explored cooking outside of a typical restaurant setting before, having started Saison as a pop-up in 2009 and also opening Skenes Ranch in Washington, a hunting and fishing lodge that hosted private dinners as well as foraging and fishing classes.
“I haven’t been in the kitchen for so long,” Skenes said. “I’m craving that rigor.”
Skenes will keep his responsibilities at Angler but said that when the restaurants opened, he “didn’t really do anything,” with the bulk of his job consisting of “R&D” and mentoring his sous chefs.
The chef is calling the dinners “Skenes Place” and describes them as a “better version of or the next evolution” of the old Saison.
“Even though the food is going to be super-precise and there is a lot of work that goes into it,” he said, “I just want people to come by and eat dinner.”
The Skenes Place dinners will include a beverage pairing, but guests are welcome to bring their own wine or anything else.
“There’s no rules,” Skenes said. “People can bring a leg of ham if they want.”