Biography of Chef John Sharpe

John R. Sharpe

Born – Hartlepool England 1946.

Hartlepool is a fishing village and was until the ’50s a major ship building port. Growing up in the industrious North East of England where all his forefathers worked in the coalmines, John spent his early years playing soccer, gardening with his father and helping his mother in the kitchen. They grew and cooked all of their foods in the early years after the war. During this time he became fascinated with food and decided at the age of 5 to become a chef.

His professional career began as an Apprentice Chef at The Majestic Hotel in Harrogate England at age 15 in 1961. At the time this was the only 5 star hotel in the north of England. He attended Leeds Hotel and Restaurant School for three years, transferring to Westminster Hotel School in London where he graduated with honors in 1965. He won the apprentice of the year competition in 1964. After sitting for his final exam in London he left to work at the Schwietzerhof Hotel in Bern, Switzerland. He spent the next five years working in Switzerland gaining valuable experience in many of its finest hotels. He returned to England briefly in 1970 to work as a chef.

He arrived in California to visit a friend who worked at the famous Bistro in Beverly Hills. He worked at the famous Bistro as a line cook and then took the Sous Chef Position at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. John left the hotel to open Harry’s Bar and American Grill in Century City for the Spectrum Foods Group as Executive Chef.

After receiving much acclaim as one of the best restaurants in LA, he was promoted to Executive Chef of the company overseeing the operations of The Greenhouse, Macarthur Park and Chianti Restaurants. In 1995 he opened The Rangoon Racquet Club as Chef and Manager. Working for his mentor Manny Zwaaf he gained experience working in the front of the house. His first venture into business came in 1997 when he opened The Mirage Restaurant in Beverly Hills. This became one of the leaders in its day serving Creative International Cuisine at the forefront of early fusion cuisine of its day.

He moved to Laguna Beach in 1981 where he started a catering company and consulting business. During this time he was Executive Chef and Director of Food and Beverage for The Laguna Beach Hotel. There, he worked for his mentor Mr. Ken Hansen, the owner of Scandia, one of L.A.’s great restaurants. He opened the Rib Joint Roadhouse in Dana Point with a partner in 1983, which has been and still is a landmark in the area. In 1989 he was chosen as the Executive Chef to open Bistro 201 in Irvine. John was Corporate Executive Chef for the group and went on to open such restaurants as Diva, Topaz Café at the Bowers Museum and Barbacoa.

In 1995 he took over the group, forming his own company to run Bistro 201, Kachina, Topaz and Diva. As chef/owner he operated them and in 1998 he opened Aysia 101 in Newport Beach, a 22,000 square foot multicultural restaurant and nightclub. After selling out of the group in January of 2000, he started looking for another business opportunity outside the congested and hectic life of Southern California. While visiting the Affeldts, who had been asking him for the past few years to come to Winslow to offer advice on how to open a restaurant in the La Posada, he and his wife Patricia decided to move to Winslow and open The Turquoise Room Restaurant inside of the historic La Posada. It is quickly becoming one of the finest restaurants in Northern Arizona drawing a clientele from far and wide.

The restaurant features some retro Fred Harvey dishes as well as John’s interpretation of Southwestern Cuisine. He is currently focused on encouraging local farmers to grow foods for use in the restaurant. He has also developed a network of purveyors that provide him with fresh fish and game from all corners of the country. Working in conjunction with C.S.E. at N.A.U. John is committed to the cause of both the Slow Foods movement and the Chef’s Collaborative. The Turquoise Room has hosted two large Local Foods Networking Conferences in conjunction with The Center for Sustainable Environments at NAU, as well as the 2004 Board of Directors National Conference for Slow Foods USA.

He is an avid home gardener. He grows heirloom vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, especially the giant squash blossoms picked each morning in late spring and summer from the Ha:l squash, one of the Tohono O’ odham peoples ancient vegetables.

He now makes his home in Winslow with his wife Patricia and their three Shih Tzus, May Lee, Sayang and Sir Sidney III.